Sunday, January 17, 2010

Someone Will Find You

Once in a while, the Universe sends you a message. I've been thinking about my career, about what's next for me, and about the different partial manuscripts my agent is/will be circulating on my behalf.

And I've been in this business long enough to know that my portion of that work is done, at least temporarily. Now the waiting begins.

You see, you can dream up new ideas, you can write a synopsis and sample chapters, you can sign the best agent in the whole wide world...but there's a point where the process is out of your hands. A place where you have to launch your work into the stratosphere, and then you stand back and cross your fingers. Actually, it reminds me a lot of my son's first day of school. I felt that I'd done everything I could as a parent to prepare him, but on that day, I had to step away and let him start his own journey.

So it is with our work. We can propose, we can edit and rework, but eventually we must sit back and hope that our writing strikes a chord in an editor's heart. (More to the point these days: It strikes a chord in an editor's heart and it satisfies the publisher's needs for a new product. That's only fair, because after all, publishing is a business; businesses respond to the marketplace.)

So today as I took a bit of a break from writing--except I really never take a break, I'm always thinking about what I have written or what I will write--I was able to get some reading done. I found this in an interview with Buck Henry, actor and writer, who worked on the screenplays for "The Graduate" and "Catch 22," as well as appearing on Saturday Night Live:

"Timing is everything...You really can't control that as a writer, But if you're talented, it'll all work out in the end. I mean, not all the talented writers will make it, of course...But, for the most part, if you're talented, I think somebody will find you."

(From And Here's the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft by Mike Sacks)


Jill Edmondson said...

I recently came to a conclusion similar to yours. It's out of my hands...

My book has been written, contract signed, it went to the printers and is now in stores. I have done all the online marketing I can think of, I made a book trailer, I threw a helluva launch party, I have talked with booksellers and librarians and so on and so on.

At some point you just have to cross your fingers and say "I've done my best".

This doesn't mean I won't continue to write and promote and go to events and all of that, but it helps to realize some things are indeed beyond your control - no matter how hard you try.

So, now I'm looking for a four leaf clover & a lucky rabbit's foot!!

Cheers, Jill

Linda said...

Thank so much for this! As I write my first novel, I need this type of encouragement to just continue to do my part to the best of my ability and then the rest will follow.

Camille Minichino said...

Exactly -- you work as hard as if everything depends on you, and then you let go as if everything depends on the universe!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I enjoyed your post, Joanna. All you said is really true. The great thing about being a writer, though, is that even when my stuff is out there and out of my control, I can be writing something else to help keep my mind off it!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I took most of the day off, ladies, the first time I've done that in months...and I think that this little quotation helped me feel free to "let go and let God." It did me a world of good. Here's to Martin Luther King, and his dreams. I am happy I've lived long enough to see some of them come true, although we still have a long way to go.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Oh, and Jill, email me at with your address. I have a stockpile of 4-leaf-clovers that I'm happy to share with my author friends. As for the rabbit's foot, you're on your own.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Linda, all you can do is the BEST you can do, and you must keep at it. You must "cheat yesterday's audience" as my friend Mark Sanborn says.

Betty Hechtman said...

I think that sometimes by trying too hard, you push things away. And you never know where things will lead. Could be that one thing doesn't happen to make room for the much better thing that was behind it in line.