The Waiting is the Hardest Part

When I first got a full manuscript request, I wanted to know immediately what the response would be. Would the editor like it? Would they consider it publishable? Workable? Compelling enough? Would it be accepted, and if so, how much work would I need to do on the manuscript? Are there too many books on my topic in the market? Not enough? Would mine fit right into the literary space that needs a good book to fill it?

I wanted to know right away.

Or maybe the next day.

But Jason reminded me that waiting is the hardest part. He played me the Tom Petty song (video here)

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

Tom Petty–from the album “Hard Promises” 1981

He played the same song for me both years I applied to the MFA program at Miami University–both times when I was waitlisted (and had to wait to find that out) and then both times to find out if I’d ever make it off the waitlist.

He reminded me of the lyrics when I was impatient waiting to hear back from literary journals to know if they would take my essays. When I was convinced that after my first publication in 2018 that no one would ever want to publish my work again. When I wanted to know if one particular essay, “Fusion,” (coming out in Stonecoast Review Issue 16, January 2022) would ever get picked up by a journal when it went through a year’s worth of rejection.

Before I met Jason, I never listened to Tom Petty. Now this song has become my anthem.

I Googled how long I could expect to wait to hear back from editors and publishers, and, of course, there is no real answer.

Except what Petty tells us.

I check my email multiple times a day, refreshing it as if magical emails will appear.

I know what Petty would say to this.

There have been times I waited months only to have it end in disappointment (remember that first time I was waitlisted for the MFA program? Yeah…) Other times, the wait has been a good omen, a sign that the editors, readers, and publishing gurus were seriously considering my work and wanted it (like my upcoming essay in Stonecoast Review). Even then it wasn’t easy or simple or quick. The editor at Stonecoast Review said they would *maybe* take the essay on the condition that I make some revisions and rewrite the ending as the readers felt it needed a more conclusive finale. Even then, they could have rejected it. I took the time, I rewrote the essay again, I submitted it (again) and waited (again). And to my delight, they took it.

But only after a long process of waiting, rewriting, and waiting.

Petty was playing in the background during the whole time.

It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard to move on after submitting work to editors. It’s hard to not know what is happening to your beloved words as they are read over by strangers. It’s like sending your baby into the world and hope that others love it like you do. And sometimes, they don’t.

As Petty says:

I said yeah, yeah (Yeah, yeah)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Tom Petty–from the album “Hard Promises” 1981

And:

Oh, don’t let it kill you baby, don’t let it get to you
Don’t let it kill you baby, don’t let it get to you
I’ll be your bleedin’ heart, I’ll be your cryin’ fool
Don’t let this go too far, don’t let it get to you

Tom Petty–from the album “Hard Promises” 1981

And of course:

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

Tom Petty–from the album “Hard Promises” 1981

And of course, while Petty is talking about women and relationships, and I’m talking about my word babies, Jason was spot on with this song recommendation. Waiting, for anything (indeed) is the hardest part.

But it’s often what makes the good endings worth it.