I came from a broken family who only knew broken ways. I felt adrift and couldn’t seem to find direction. Everything I did was always to please others, yet it left me empty and even more lost. I saw others being happy, successful, but every day felt like just more pain. I was terrified of making mistakes, paralyzed by the thought I might “fail” or be a “failure.” That’s one of the reasons I blog so much on changing our relationship with failure. If we don’t, we can never see success.
Anyway, in college, I ran across a book that changed something very important in my belief system. My roommate was watching Oprah and she was interviewing Iyanla Vanzant and talking about her first book In the Meantime. When I read the book, a large part of what was wrong became instantly clear. I was always either looking back—at my missteps, wrong choices, dumb moves, or even romanticizing the past—or I was looking to the future. I could be happy when…
Once I finished my degree, life would be different…
Once I landed a good job, life would be better…
Once, I had X, did Y, learned Z, THEN it would all be perfect.
What I was forgetting was the largest part of what we experience…the meantime. The meantime has a purpose. It changes us, grows us, prepares us for our futures. When we set about to become successful writers, we are sowing seeds of something great. Years later, Joyce Meyers took Iyanla’s teachings to the next level for me. She taught me that:
There is seed, time and harvest.
More accurately, there is seed…TIIIIIIIIIIIMMMMME, MORE TIIIIIIIMMMMEEE, PROBABLY EVEN MORE TIMMMMMMMEEEE, then harvest. (Repeat)
Joyce helped me understand that patience is more than the ability to wait; it’s how we act while we wait. We have to learn to get good at the waiting. We need to make use of the waiting. That’s part of why I write so many lessons about the character we need to be successful. The world is full of shooting stars, people who rise to the top, but who lack the character and strength of will to remain there. We can use the meantime to grow as people and professionals so that when fortune finally favors us, we have staying power.
The meantime has a purpose, but it’s usually longer than we’d like it to be. It’s the part the movies puts into a montage. It’s where the newbie and mentor finally are on the same page and we see the protagonist running in the snow, punching bags, or studying all night. It’s about three minutes long and has nifty music, and man, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could just do the tough part of this journey in a montage?
*sings * I need a montage, a MONTAGE!
We all want to reach the mountain top , but nothing grows there. We will spend most of our lives in the valley on our way to the next mountain and the next. Once you finish your first book, then you need to edit, to publish. Then there is the next book and the next. Mountain after mountain with valley in between.
But the valley is where we grow. Valley is meantime. Make your meantime count. Learn, make friends, forge relationships. Instead of fixating on sales numbers of your book, let it go. Write more. Read about the craft. Take craft classes and write more books. Meantime is everything and if we don’t learn to enjoy it, we miss out on the largest part of life.
Do you struggle with your meantime? Is it hard waiting? I know I am still growing in that area for sure! Have you become good at waiting? Do you find joy in your meantime? How? Tell us about it!
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of March I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!