Photographic Timer. From senokulvitre.

When I was very young, I submitted something for publication and then wrote a letter pressing the editor for a response. I blush to think of it now, how impatient I was for success. It takes a long time to become successful in writing (unless you’re some kind of a savant, I suppose). But now that I’m older, I’m reflecting on how important patience is for writing in ways I had never recognized before.

To begin with, you can’t just write something and submit it. You need to write something and then have some patience and wait for a bit, before you go back and edit it. But it takes more that that.

It takes a lot of time and effort over years to hone your craft in order to produce writing worthy of submission in the first place. You need patience while you write and get feedback and then write some more. But it takes more that that.

After you’ve submitted your manuscript, you need to get ready and wait again. Some publications will get back to you in hours or days, but some will take months to get back to you. You need patience to submit something and then wait and wait and wait. But it takes more than that.

After your story has been accepted, get ready to wait yet again. Oh, you’ll need to deal with revisions and submit a bio and a photo and other stuff. But at best, it will be a month or two — and perhaps much longer — before your piece actually appears in print.

And then you’ll still be waiting on reviews and award nominations and those accolades you, no doubt, fully merit. For those, you might need to keep waiting your whole life.

When I was younger, it was hard to stay focused across such long time scales. A month seemed like an eternity when I was a teenager. Now the months evaporate like fog in the sunshine and bring one’s impending death into crystal-sharp focus. But that will require a little patience too.

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