Living in Limbo Land

photobucket image by LoneLizard2

Limbo Land. A place writers know all too well.

We spend hours writing, waiting to reach The End.

We share our work with our critique partners and eagerly await their feedback.

We send out contest entries, queries, book proposals. And we wait.

Then comes that monumental day when we sign a contract, and we expect life to take off at warp speed. For those who have only a few months between contract and release that can be true, but others wait to find out what happens next.

During a call with my agent, I referred to this period of uncertainty as Limbo Land. Eager for assurance that I was heading in the right direction while I wait for the next step on my journey, I asked her to share some of her sage counsel.

What she gave me was a dose of reality. She told me waiting is part of the writing life and that doesn’t change after we sign a contract. She said a writer can plan to spend 90% of her time living in Limbo Land, waiting for something, waiting on someone.

My agent went on to give me some advice I’d heard before but which hadn’t sunk in.

The best way to deal with waiting time is to work on the next project. Keep writing so when we’re asked for a new story or another book proposal, we have one ready.

Heeding my agent’s advice worked wonders. I was transported from Limbo Land to Possibility Paradise. Ideas began to flow, and I couldn’t wait to get to work.

* * *

Have you spent time in Limbo Land, unsure how to proceed. How did you handle it?

What are your best tips for dealing with waiting time?

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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11 Responses to Living in Limbo Land

  1. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    I have never been in Limbo Land, for my principal aim was never to get published what I wrote and write. If it ever gets published, that would be a nice side effect of my writing and maybe give me some income to be able to travel to all the places I still wanna see (I wish I was born as a nomad..lol).

    Now thinking about the waiting time for you, Keli, and other writers, I would recommend the same as for fighting stress: going out into nature – it helps you to slow down, clear your mind, forget about the waiting. :-)

    And yes, writing the next novel, poetry, song would be a good idea to forget about the waiting, for it keeps your mind and heart busy and gives you the satisfaction of creation while you are waiting…. ;-)

  2. Jessica says:

    I’m in Limbo Land now, as a matter of fact. A beta is reading the story I was editing and a ms is sitting at Love Inspired so even though I have this new story I’m itching to write, I’m waiting because I want to be DONE with the beta read one before I start. I have plans to time how long it takes me to write a category and I’m hoping I don’t get interrupted. LOL
    Have fun writing a new project while you wait!

  3. Wendy says:

    Maybe I should get a T-shirt that says, “I live in Limbo Land.” I’ve accepted it. It’s always LL until heaven anyway.

    I write short stories (another one will be published in CFOM in March) and I’ve written a rough draft of another novel in this particular wait. I’m a little excited though b/c something just helped me to see more of the awaiting light.
    ~ Wendy

  4. I like your new concept – Possibility Paradise. Sounds like a much better land in which to dwell. I see it in my mind’s eye; the sun is always shining there! Blessings to you, Keli…

  5. territiffany says:

    I am writing and writing and writing, trying to improve so that if I ever leave Limbo land it will be with a good product to offer:)

  6. I get so restless in Limbo Land and miss writing, so I have to figure out someone or something to write for. I don’t like staying in Limbo Land for long!

  7. I’m all too familiar with Limbo Land. There’s been a new development though. :) I’ll message you!

  8. Tana Adams says:

    I’m so glad your writing again. I tend to distract myself from life with my writing. Sometimes I think my writing is my crutch. Is that such a bad thing? I hope not. =)

  9. Love your clever names, Keli! Limbo Land and Possibility Paradise! :) Hmmm…that second one is definitely more appealing, LOL. ;) I’ve also heard the advice about working on your next project while you’re “in limbo” and I think those are words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing another great post! ~ Patti Jo :)

  10. erin says:

    I write non-fiction so my limbo land ended the day I got my contract. My book was bought on proposal, so on the day I signed my contract, I was given 2 months to write the ENTIRE book. Then, after that, it’s been a non-stop whir of edits and changes and marketing and everything else. Now that my book is (finally) done, I’m back in limbo-land waiting for the next contract and for my life to become a blur again.

  11. I think even before you’re agented or published you can spend a lot of time in limbo. Waiting for a beta reader’s comments. Waiting for a paid editor’s feedback. The first time I purposefully put myself there I only realized my mistake months later. The editor took more than twice as long to get back with my critique than expected and during that time I sat on my hands. I was afraid to continue editing my manuscript lest I waste effort on something she was about to deem worthless, and afraid to start on the next project in case I made the exact same mistakes all over again.

    I think I’ve learned that you should never stop writing. Like any skill, it only improves with practice and rusts with disuse.

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