Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Emphasis is on Eventually

“You hear what you need to hear, when you need it,” said Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author, at the Hawaii Writer’s Conference last weekend.

So much wisdom and advice was delivered at the conference. It was fabulous—better than I’d hoped. I absorbed as much information as I could, but the message that kept hitting home—the message I needed to hear—was about patience.

Nine years at this game and I am losing patience. The threat of a “real job” looms. I have two days a week to write if I’m lucky. I spent six years writing a book that will never be published. Rumors floated from the industry warn that if you don’t publish a book by the time you’re 40, you never will. An interested publisher just makes me worry that if I don’t give him something really soon he’ll forget about me or move on. Lately, I sit at my computer and feel pressured. I am losing patience.

But in Hawaii so many smart people reminded me that good writing doesn’t come in a hurry.

“Make haste slowly,” said Patricia Wood, who published her first book to wide acclaim in her 50s.

Michael Arndt, screenwriter of Little Miss Sunshine, spoke of the 10,000 hour rule of mastery described in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (which I wrote about here in January—from Hawaii, no less—and then promptly forgot about: Thanks, Fred). It was true for him. Ten years of really hard work until he made it.

“Your job is to enjoy the process as much as possible,” said bestselling author Dan Millman, just to drive the point home that writing is a PROCESS.

Of course I knew all of this already, even if I sometimes wish it weren’t true. My best essays have taken months—even years—to write. It takes time for the good stuff to bubble to the top. It takes thinking and breathing and playing and changing. It takes living.

I am grateful to have been reminded of this now, with two good projects in the wings. I shouldn’t expect myself to create anything of substance in a big fat hurry, nor to settle for publishing anything that’s not slow-cooked to perfection.


  1. Aloha Kim,
    Glad my talk could help!
    Dan is right on when he talks about enjoying the process. Oh and I've got FOUR manuscripts in a drawer that will never see the light of day lol!!
    Each one you write gets you closer.
    Much aloha,
    Patricia Wood

  2. Weren't you the one who said that when some famous person dies and they publish all of his early unpublished novels, don't buy them because they stink?

    Thanks for getting in touch!

  3. lol!!!! my bad!!!
    (I hope my husband pays to have them edited after I'm gone)

  4. Hi sweetie...Glad to hear you liked the conference. I feel lucky to have shared it with you. Wish we could do it again next year...and every year!

    Love, Mom