Waiting for stuff to happen… or making it happen.

by Mhairi Simpson on November 8, 2012

I don’t know about you, but I seem to spend a lot of my time, especially recently, waiting for things to happen. It’s particularly bad when you’re actively looking for a job, and it’s one of the reasons I don’t believe a job will help anyone move forward in their life, unless it’s the right job. Waiting on other people to make things happen in your own life is… well, counter-productive, really.

Why should they care about your life?

The answer is: they don’t.

Not because they actively think you’re not worth caring about, but because until you are in their life, they have no reason to do anything for you. So waiting for someone to give you a job can be soul destroying. You can present yourself as the right candidate for the position, but there’s only so much you can do to influence that decision, and after you’ve done it… you wait.


(Oooh, speaking of “yay”, allow me to take a massive momentary detour to tell you about this totally awesome review of SCENT OF FREEDOM that went up on Amazon UK yesterday. Used the word “yay”. Check it out here. /storypimpage)

Where was I? Oh yes. Waiting.

I think the main reason jobhunting is so depressing is that most of us aren’t on that list of people who are so brilliantly qualified and/or experienced that they can just walk into the perfect job. Most of us apply to every job we can find that’s even remotely relevant to our skills and abilities and then… wait.

I hate waiting.

I’m a really impatient person and I HATE waiting. I would much rather be DOING than WAITING.

Which is why I really like writing. Particularly the self-publishing aspect, although that’s not without its waiting. Recently I’ve spent a lot of time editing stuff for an anthology. Getting to read all those stories first was awesome. Editing them, somewhat terrifying (I mean, seriously, who am *I* to edit ANYTHING by Juliet McKenna?). Waiting for the inevitable turnaround time between sending stuff back and getting it back and sending it again…

I can’t imagine it’s any fun on the other side, either.

I’m also waiting to see cover art for a story that will be published through a small press. Actually I have gnawed through all my fingernails (and my fingers – I’m typing this with my nose) and am about halfway up my right humerus as we speak.


It sucks.

But when you write, you don’t have to wait. This goes for any self-employed person. When you’re self-employed, in my case as a writer, you don’t have to wait at all unless you let yourself. There are ALWAYS more ideas, ALWAYS more things to do, more things to WRITE. Yes, it’s nerve-wracking to have that gap between sending a story in to someone and actually hearing back from them on it, but guess what? You can keep writing! You can work on something totally different, or you can edit something for someone else. Or you can even edit someone else’s something for someone else.

It’s awesome!

There is always something you can be doing. You don’t ever have to stall. And if you self-publish, you have even more options. You can write this or that or the other. You can send it off to be edited/proofread/shredded as appropriate. You can trawl through the internet looking for the EXACT RIGHT IMAGE OF AN ARCH OH MY GOD WHY IS IT SO DAMN HARD for cover art for a story. You can work on the plot for this story because it isn’t quite working and why the hell isn’t it working because it really should work because YOU PLANNED THIS OUT ALREADY. And you can publish.

And of course most of the above applies even if you’re not self-publishing. And, also of course, there will always be little bits of waiting whatever route you take. BUT, if you self-publish you get the satisfaction of seeing at least a few copies of your word baby sell, and, if you’re super duper awesomely lucky, you even get sweet reviews!

And yes, I know that traditional publishing involves quite long periods of waiting, but guess what you can do in those periods? Oh yeah, baby, YOU CAN WRITE MORE.

What you don’t have is the massively long wait before you can do ANYTHING AT ALL which accompanies jobhunting. Because sure, you can keep looking for jobs, but if you’re not working, you’re not working, and sooner or later it gets very hard to ignore.

But with writing, you can always, but ALWAYS, be writing. Getting paid for it is a different beast. I’m not even close to getting paid for my writing yet, but it’s something I can do any time, anywhere, which means I can always be working, and, what’s more, I can always be improving. Because there is no reason for me ever to stop writing, I can constantly reexamine what I’m doing and work to improve it. By writing more. I can learn on a daily basis. I can absorb critique from friends and not-friends and consider the value of it and adjust (or not) my writing accordingly.

When you work for yourself, you are never unemployed. You might be unpaid, but that’s a different, and to my mind less important, beast.

Yes, that’s right, I said getting paid is less important than being in charge of your own life. I didn’t say it wasn’t important at all. I just know that personally I’m miserable when doing a job I hate. I’m a big believer in job satisfaction being more important than money.

Obviously, you need some money. Sadly it is a requirement. That said, there’s often a vast difference between what you want and what you need. The difference is often the same as the difference between what you like doing and what you feel you have to do.

And the one between waiting on other people to make a difference in your life or effecting that change yourself.

I’ve had this conversation with a friend of mine and we agree that not everyone wants to run their own business. Not everyone is cut out for it, and there are myriad different kinds of business, too. I don’t want to run a multi-million pound corporation with fifty thousand employees. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t have a clue how. I just want to run myself. I want to set my own schedules, decide who I want to work for, what I want to produce, and how and when I’ll produce it. I know that working with publishers takes some of these decisions out of my hands, but the majority of them, the day to day running of me, for example, remains within my control.

This is how I want to live.

So I’m making it happen.

Says she, typing this from her temporary receptionist location. But this is only temporary. Whereas I will always be a writer. Doing my writing thing, on my own writing schedule.


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