When preparing a WIP (work in progress) for publication, an important part of the process is sending the WIP off to another human being who will read it and provide feedback of some sort. That novel isn’t really “final” until it has been through an editor or a reader or both — whether sent to a development editor, line editor, copyeditor, alpha reader, beta reader, or a close friend/family member who volunteers to be a reader.
While this editing or reading is going on, the author is in limbo and must choose what to do while they wait. The author might rest, distract themselves with other things, or work on other writing projects. The mere process of waiting can be stressful. As a writer, the first few days I’m “hands off” on a novel because it is with someone else, I feel a sense of calm. After that, the calm can turn into stress — if I let it.
waiting: staying in place or delaying an action until something else happens.
If I’m smart about it, I work on other things, take on home projects, and otherwise distract myself until such time as the editor or reader returns my file with their feedback. (That’s when the writing begins again and I’m further up the path toward publication. Whew.)
But before that file comes back and I have the feedback, I’m waiting and wondering and wavering between anticipation and anxiousness. (I’d say dread, but that’s the word I’d use only on days when “imposter syndrome” is kicking up it’s heels and knocking me back, making me question what I’ve written, wonder what the editor/reader might be thinking.)
anticipation: the hope and excitement that builds while waiting for a future happening.
dread: uneasiness of something that is expected to come.
Time will pass. The feedback will arrive. Hopefully. It’s a natural reaction to think about the future and what may happen, even though it doesn’t hurry things up or change them. I know that for me distraction is the best way to give myself a break while I’m waiting. I can focus on a work-in-progress (WIP) that has been sitting on a back burner. I can focus on short stories, rather than throwing myself into a WIP and its world — which I’d have to extract myself from when feedback arrives for the current WIP being scrutinized. Or, I could take my waiting time and offer it to another author by agreeing to be an editor or reader for their current WIP.
Alternatively, I could sand the kitchen cabinets, scrub the floors, or cut the tree suckers attempting to take over the woods. Or, I can spend small chunks of time on iNaturalist, uploading photos of the living, jumping, flying things I’ve captured digitally — after stomping around the yard or woods taking photographs. Hmm. Decisions, decisions.
Whatever it is I choose to do, the goal is waiting with as little [rising] anxiety as possible. I know it won’t go away. My nervousness and anticipation will flitter around the corners and cobwebs of my mind, even as I tromp through spider webs in the real world.
In the end, it will have been worth the wait for the writer and for their readers to come.
Note: Definitions are my own, bastardizations of those found in various online dictionaries.