Waiting is the Hard Part

So when you read the title of this post did Tom Petty’s song “Waiting is the Hardest Part” come to mind? If not, it probably did now. (Cue music in your head).

We all have problems with waiting. Well, why not? In this fast-paced world you can get emails instantly, text someone across the world and receive an answer a few seconds later, and you can even have a face-to-face chat as you are walking down the street. Why should we have to wait anymore?

But, alas, waiting is a part of life. And it’s not fun.

In my house at the moment, we are waiting for something big — college acceptance letters! For those of you who haven’t experienced this, it is a stressful time. It is the first time in your life where your child’s future cannot be influenced by you. Always before you could perhaps guide the outcome of something- perhaps by talking to a teacher when a paper is late, or maybe smoothing over differences with a coach when your child is upset. But college admissions offices don’t want to deal with parents or guardians any more. It’s all up to them. They decide the fate of your child. In or out. That’s all you get.

As I watch and wait with my daughter, I am struck by how similar applying for college is like writing. In very simplistic terms the stories we write are sort of like our own babies. We have stayed up late with them, we have nurtured them — sometimes for years — before they are ready, and when we push send on the email or place the stamp on the envelope, we are sending them off into the world. Much like college admissions offices, the agents and editors that receive our carefully crafted manuscripts don’t allow any kind of “parental” interference. The wait can seem interminable, and quite frankly, sometimes it is. It can be weeks or months before you hear about your manuscript. Or, unfortunately, you may never hear anything.

Having gone through the college process once before, with my son, we know how the waiting can wear on you. First of all, everyone asks – so where are you going to college. Those questions start at Christmas your senior year in high school. Yeah, most schools don’t start sending out acceptances until late March or early April. In teenage years, that’s an eternity.

So the big question, is what do you do while you are waiting?

I did a Google search of “waiting” and came up with 207 billion (that’s with a ‘B’) results. Wow! A LOT of people must be talking about or thinking about waiting.

I went to Amazon and did a search on “Waiting” under children’s books and came up with 267 results. That’s a lot of books about waiting.

This was the book that came up as the #1 selection :


Which was funny, because this book is the very one I received from my parents when I graduated from high school. How cool is that?  Of course at the time, I thought it was kind of cheesy. I mean who gets a high school graduate a children’s book, as a gift?  Still, I remember reading it and thinking, well, that was nice… I guess.

Little did I know that all these years later, that little children’s book was a symbol of things to come.  At the time, being a children’s author was the furthest thing from my mind. I wanted to be a doctor. What happened? Things change. And now I’m here. But WOW what a journey and what a wonderful job this is. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Even as I sit and wait every time I send out a new submission. Isn’t it funny that sometimes while we are waiting, the answer comes to us. Not always in the form that we want, but maybe in something new and different.

As we wait to hear from the colleges my daughter applied to, we discuss all the possibilities. What if she gets in college A? That would mean a big change– a new climate and environment. But college B would mean a really big school with lots of kids. College C, well, that one is great but very expensive. The opportunities are endless, as are the challenges. Whatever her ultimate decision is,  we are confident it will be the best one for her. Waiting can be hard, but in the end, it is worth it because it gives you time and perspective.

And as the saying goes, sometimes the best things come to those who wait. :)

So, tell me, what do you do while you are waiting for things to happen?

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Jennifer Swanson is the author of over 14 fiction and nonfiction books for kids. She is a true science geek, a mystery book freak, and finds it hard to wait for things — especially  a new book in the series she is reading.

One Response to Waiting is the Hard Part

  1. What do I do while I wait? I agitate!

    I don’t have a good solution for this obviously! :)