Turns out, the life of a writer has parallels with an actor’s life. Both involve a similarly agonizing process of submitting and waiting. While an author submits a manuscript to a publisher or a query letter to a literary agency, an actor submits a request for an audition, then waits for a response. If the audition comes through, you wait for a callback, after which (should you be so lucky) you wait for a final casting decision. If you have an agent, they usually handle the submission process for you, although you do submit independently at times and end up waiting anyway.
One of the hardest things I found about being an actor was learning how to forget about the audition for which you just spent days (sometimes weeks) preparing. “Just put it out of your mind,” you’re told. Oh sure. If the audition goes poorly it’s not so hard to do, but if you nail it, you’ll be reliving every moment for days despite your best efforts and better judgement. And the wait is horrendous. With each passing hour, day, week, a positive outcome becomes less likely, and yet you believe you still might get the call because you neeeeeeed to believe.
And so you wait.
This guy might have been onto something…
The first week is the worst. You keep your phone within reach at all times because good news is usually called in, while bad news invariably comes via email. As time ticks by you may start to use half-assed psychology on yourself: if I leave my phone where I can’t get to it, it will probably ring, because a watched pot and all that. Or you try to calculate the ever-diminishing probability of good news based on the shooting or rehearsal schedule: if the shooting/rehearsal date is imminent and you’ve heard nothing, you can probably throw in the towel and think about something else. Conversely, if the production isn’t getting started for another x number of weeks or months, you tell yourself there’s still room for optimism. If you don’t hear right away, the next best case scenario is to get the good news only after so much time has passed that you have to be reminded what the project was in the first place. Such episodes happen on occasion and are directly responsible for all this delusional optimism.
In my acting life, I’m currently waiting for answers on a number of projects. One (a part in a short film), has mercifully come and gone. Another (a TV crime drama) has so far involved a self-taped audition, followed by a 5-week wait, followed by a call-back and another separate audition for a different part, followed by another 5-week wait. Still no word (my agent is investigating). Finally, I’m waiting for an answer on a stage audition that took place last weekend; hope is fading fast on that one, although rehearsals aren’t set to begin until July.
And so I wait.
Writing, I’m learning, is similar. In the past month I’ve sent query letters to a handful of literary agencies, my first call-out to the publishing world that I’ve written a novel. A few sent confirmations of receipt, others didn’t. In their submission instructions, most agencies suggest it could take anywhere between 4 weeks to 3 months before they respond, if they respond at all. And it will be much longer still when I submit the actual manuscript (whether to agents or directly to publishers), easily up to 6 months.
And so I —
Wait! Is that my phone?…