The Art of Waiting … and waiting … and waiting

I’ve written about patience before – how I have none. Well, little. I’m reminded of that fact each time I publish a book – because there is a lot to bringing a book into existence and a lot of it requires patience.

Funnily enough, I have the patience to create the narrative. Oh, I must remind myself at times to control my tempo to give readers the background necessary for them to feel and see any given scene as I do. To, for instance, slow down to heighten tension. Sometimes I get stuck, as all authors whose process I’ve studied do. But I’ve learned ways to continue working on the piece while maintaining a peace within: I’m comfortable that I will find the will and the way to complete my creation. Perhaps this is because my process feels a little like meditation – I am completely absorbed. Time flies as ideas and inspiration reveal themselves, as the narrative determines its own path.

After that, however, I run amok.

I hand a chapter to my husband (who has graciously been my pre-editor – you know, the unpaid kind – through four books), then drum my fingers as the chapters sit by his armchair, untouched.

I turn the pre-edited manuscript over to my editor (who has given me a very clear time frame of when to expect responses, by the way), then pace the floor waiting for input.

Then the edited copy goes to my wonderful proofreader (whose eagle eye I’ve relied upon for two and 1/2 books – regretting that I hadn’t used him on the first book or the other 1/2 of that second one). Then I check email every day thereafter for a sign.

Unlike my second novel, I did a smart thing for A Peculiar Peace: I envisioned the cover art well in advance of the need, commissioning a young artist about a year before I knew I would need the finished product. Using that method, I didn’t pressure her and wasn’t chewing fingernails waiting to see what evolved. It worked out perfectly – she worked at her own pace with comfort and I got exactly what I envisioned. Since I’ve imagined the cover of the fourth and final book of the series already, I’m hoping to duplicate that strategy the next time too. Saves on my nerves – and my manicure.

Today, I sent the manuscript to the book designer I’ve used for all four of my books (Erik of Longfeather Book Design). I’m hoping to handle my expectations well for the final product. Erik and I decided on the typeface and structure with the series introduction, Embracing the Elephant, so that will be carried through with this third volume (thus shortening the production process without provoking my lack of patience). This phase is (more or less) the mechanical part and simply takes as long as it takes to do it right. I’ve been through it before and know that Erik communicates with me often, thus lessening my need to drum or pace or chew. I suspect he knows how to handle jittery authors. Or maybe he simply has my number. Either way, what he does works for (or on) me.

“Patience, my love,” my husband says.

Is there a word for that sound one makes blowing air through fluttering lips?

About Lori Hart Beninger

Lori Hart Beninger is a native California writer with three critically acclaimed historical novels (Embracing the Elephant, A Veil of Fog and Flames, and A Peculiar Peace) that follow two 19th century young adults as they struggle with survival and acceptance in the pivotal era of the California Gold Rush up to the American Civil War. Please visit www.ontrackpublishing.com for synopses, availability, reviews, and more.
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