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The Best Advice

Posted by Priscilla on March 23, 2013

I once had the privilege of sitting in a weeklong workshop under the tutelage of an author whose book had been an Oprah Book Club pick. I left her class and went immediately to my second workshop, led by a novelist who had won multiple awards including the Pushcart Editors Choice Award. Both instructors had seen their novels turned into movies.

By the end of the week, I was flying high from my instructors’ compliments. But both teachers ended their positive remarks with one piece of advice. They both spoke one word. That one word has been the best advice I ever received.

That word?  “Patience.”

I can’t wait to finish my book and send it out.

“Patience.”

I’m almost finished my book.

“Patience.”

Should I send queries to five agents or ten?

“Patience.”

You get the picture. Learning patience has been invaluable, for it has meant that I have taken time: time to get words right; time to draw deep; time to learn emotion; time to listen; time to change.

Five years ago when I sat in those workshops, I could not have produced what I can today. It is clear to me that I am a better writer today. Someday, you who read my novels will have a much more enjoyable experience than if I had rushed to publish.

I am reminded of what I told a writing friend whose publisher and agent constantly push her to produce her next novel mere months after sending off the first, or second, or third: great writing, writing that will stand the test of time, is like fine wine or gourmet cheese -- it must have time to age.

Patience.

What do you think?

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