Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I am not a patient person. Just a few minutes ago I misspelled a word verification on someone else's blog and swore at my computer. "Well how am I supposed to read that f&(!^#%@ thing!" That's what I said. And the other night I couldn't find the nail clippers and even though I have no nails because I bite them, I searched the house, grumbling all the while, searching for the clippers so I could snip a bit of toenail because there's something about the tensile strength of toenails that makes playing with them great fun.

I get mad when I lose the radio in a fifty yard tunnel. I put store-bought, room temperature beverages in the freezer so they'll get colder faster. Ever since Comcast forced us to get a cable box, I've had to deal with a half-second delay when I change channels and it really pisses me off. The dryer takes too long to dry my clothes. Sometimes the computer is slow and when I bring up the system processes there's something called "System Idle" that's eating up all the memory and I yell, "The system isn't idle! I'm using the damn system right now!"

And commercial breaks are too long.
The hot water heater doesn't work fast enough for my morning shower.
Sometimes I have to flush twice and waiting for the tank to refill takes an inordinate amount of time.
The FBI Anti-Piracy Warning is on the screen too long and I can't skip it.
My digital camera never takes the picture when I actually push the button, but about two seconds later and by then whatever I was taking a picture of has changed, and never for the better. You shouldn't have to anticipate to get a good photo.
And The Story of Edgar Sawtelle took too long to get rolling. Enough about the mow already.

So you can see how, for me, going through the submission process is a little like having my toenails yanked off without the benefit of nail clippers.

Patience is an interesting thing for a writer. Obviously, the waiting is something we must put up with. But I think there's something to be said for impatience. Writers, in many ways, must be walking sitting contradictions. We must be free-wheeling and creative enough to write the story, but more than a little anal to make it better. We must be able to work alone, but also, if we plan to get out there and market our published work (speaking hypothetically here), able to talk to strangers. We must be able to filter out distractions, but receptive enough to the world that we take notice of the things that become the raw materials of our stories. And we must be impatient enough to write with a sense of urgency. Otherwise, we risk never finishing anything.

So although I will soon be forced to deal with the slow turn of the publishing industry's wheel, I'm not aiming to be a more patient person. I'd like it all. And I would like it now, please.


Top Dragon said...

I'm right there with you on this. I got mad this morning because my car heater was taking too long to get going. This was after about 10 seconds of driving in sub zero temps. Not sure what I expected but it was happening fast enough!

Heather Lane said...

I even hurry my kids. Can't your little legs go faster?

And I think that I've always been impatient. But I used to have better coping skills--I used to have a book in my bag at all times.

Good luck with the querying.

Tina Lee said...

What I love about this post is that I just came here from Chris at Upstart Crow and he also talks of biting nails. Like minded? I think that is an excellent sign. Patience or query him quick?
Seriously, this is a great read. You're gonna snag an agent soon. And I like the gorilla.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Chris was the agent who worked with me on my middle grade. He's awesome.
It's too bad it didn't work out.

Tina Lee said...

I am very impressed and also sorry it didn't work out. He is awesome. And, clearly, you are too.

Anita said...

I can't wrap my mind around this post. I am SO incredibly patient.

P.S. I have feeling you don't like the phrase "wrap my mind around."

Wendy Sparrow said...

Amen, Paul. Amen. It's like you reached into my soul and pulled out the offending and annoying toenails and put it to words. :)

What I truly hate--not enough to put a parentheses in a pretend profanity, but a lot--is the minute you submit something and you look back on it, because you can't possibly sit still--there is always this nasty glaring typo staring back at you in defiant ugliness. I hate that.

Impatience leads to more genius, so it can't be bad.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

You're right, Anita. But not as much as "at the end of the day..."

Anita said...

Oh, NOOOO! I can't believe it was CHRIS who was reading your book. How are you even walking around?! You must get something new to him!!!

Paul Michael Murphy said...

He said he'd look at the YA when it was ready.

chris said...

And I already put in a good word with him about it - not that that will ultimately do much, but at least I tried.

Amy said...

You sound like my 8-year old who complains that the microwave doesn't cook up her popcorn fast enough. ;o)

Ray Veen said...

So you haven't started querying? Why not? I thought your book was pretty close to being ready.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Waiting until the December Nano traffic clears, Ray.

I'm sending in January.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Thanks, Chris.

You're going to end up with your own Acknowledgements page if I ever get published.

Anita said...

I think you should send me the YA one more time.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

You've already got a pile of books to read, Anita.

And it's probably not worth a reread. I haven't made that many significant changes.

Ben Esch said...


Great blog. The waiting never seems to stop with this publishing stuff. Seriously. Even when they buy the book, you still need to cool your jets for a year and half while they get it all together. I've always wondered what they did in that year and a half, anyway. I mean, it shouldn't take that long to slap a book together right? I think China is involved in the answer somehow.

Anyway, great blog.

Ben Esch

chris said...

Great point, Ben. Or in my case, 4 years. That's right, with my new tentative 2011 publishing date, my book is scheduled to get published almost 4 years after the original sale. Haha. (Not a sarcastic laugh. Seriously. The whole waiting thing eventually reaches a point where your impatience becomes amusement. You'll get there someday... )