Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Answer the letters, please

This Sunday I watched two beautiful Christmas fairytales for adults almost back to back: “The Terminal” and then “An Affaire to Remember”. They both were about waiting, whatever IMDB told you. “Everybody’s waiting… For a flight, for a meeting, for something” “How long you wait?” “My father wait forty years”.

Well, I know everything about waiting. I am writer, naturally I am a champion of waiting. This is the main professional skill: an ability to wait. First you spend years writing a book, it’s a big thing to do, you can’t do it in a week, so you invest a lot, you commit to be patient. When it is finished, you send it away and then the waiting game begins. And I am telling you: it’s not the rejection that can really break your back, it’s silence. Yet another day of uncertainty. Because, it’s not necessary that they will even answer. When I submitted my second novel, I sent away 13 letters and received only three responses: two negative and one positive. That’s the way the cookie crumbles: it crumbles very unfair and insensitive.

Now I am doing it again as an artist. “Would you consider seeing my samples?” “Will you be interested?” and simple “I am submitting…” On average, I receive one answer on every fifty or so submissions and proposals I send out. It is normal that people don’t reply. They have their reasons, of course. It’s not like I never left an e-mail unanswered. We don’t really think that this simple act of non-doing actually condemns another human being for a boundless waiting – as captivating and compassionate as a blank wall.

This is not a real waiting if you know when it will be over. The real waiting, the exhausting, drying out, hopeless waiting doesn’t have an end. You don’t’ know when. You just left here. Trying to live your normal life, reading the articles “How to deal with frustration” and “How to be patient”, pretending you are okay and you (almost) forgot. There is surely always some sort of a time frame, but really – can you ever pinpoint the time to give up? And when people ask you “How can you do it? How can you stand it? How can you keep up hope?“ shrug your shoulders, when actually you know the answer. That big secret of people who wait. Wanna know it? The secret is: we really don’t have a choice. Ask a dog at the restaurant door.

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