MARIELENA ZUNIGA: ON WAITING
Word of the week. Waiting. I’ve never been good at waiting. Grocery store lines. Bumper-to-bumper traffic. The post office. It seems so much of life is about – well, waiting. As writers, however, we seem always to be waiting. Waiting for an inspiration. Waiting for characters to reveal themselves. Waiting for plot.
Then the waiting becomes serious. We pitch our books and send queries. We wait for an agent’s or editor’s response. We wait by the mailbox. When an agent or editor asks to see the first three chapters, we eagerly send it off, and yet we wait some more.
If we are published, we wait for release of the book, wait for good reviews, wait for sales. The bottom line is that as a writer, waiting is always there, always a part of the process. Over the years, I’ve been trying to make “waiting” a spiritual practice, as shared by one of my favorite spiritual writers, the late Henri Nouwen.
He said that when we wait with patience, it does not mean passivity. It is an active waiting in which we live in the present moment to the full. Waiting is “expecting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination or prediction. That indeed, is a very radical stance in a world preoccupied with control.”
If I’m honest, I’m still not good at waiting – or making it spiritual. Because I am a bit of a control freak, it’s tough not knowing the outcome, of anything. But the times I can let go and make waiting something alive and active, a grace for soul growth or fodder for new writing ideas, I find I’m more at my peace. And it shows in my writing. So what about you? Are you waiting? And what are you waiting for?