Why Being A Writer Means Being A Waiter

File:EnglishMastiffSleeping.jpegWaiting. Oh, waiting.

It's part of a writer's life like you wouldn't believe.

Not the tables-and-tips kind - though I'm sure there are plenty of writers who also work as waiters, and plenty of waiters who also work as writers.

No, the other kind - the-less fun kind. The P word, actually.


The kind of person who will sit down and pour their mind out into pages and pages of words, and then share those words with other people, tends to be a little ... off. There's always an arrogance about art, especially when you want other people to read what you've written, and at some point - whether it's the hours late at night spent typing away, the years of research in libraries, or the stolen moments alone with your thoughts - you have to realise; writing is a very 'me, me, me' thing to do.

Being published, though, takes so much patience. That's what I want to talk about today, because while I'm no expert, I have been doing this for a bit and there's one big, common problem I see again and again. I read message boards, chat to people who are querying, spend (too much) time on Twitter, and it always comes back to this: I want to nudge the person reading my stuff.


When an agent has your pages, they will get back to you (or, if they have a policy of not responding, they won't, but after the cutoff point you'll know what that means).

If an editor has your book, they will respond.

If a reader has your book, they will read it, eventually.

That 'eventually' can be heart-wrenching. Look! you want to say, Look! I spent SO MUCH TIME on this and it is MY HEART. Why are you eating and working when this is MORE IMPORTANT?

Be patient.

Now, that's not the same as sitting still and doing nothing. Write more. Read more. Go on adventures. Fall in love. Buy a crab. Learn to speak Japanese. Find out where Lichtenstein is.

If you really want to, write e-mails reminding people that they have your stuff and that, y'know, it's probably the most important thing they have to do. Just don't send them.  Don't be that writer - the one with no perspective.

I know - I know! - how tempting it is. And I do know, by the way, that nudging agents is perfectly fine if they've set parameters and have said they don't mind. Sometimes things slip and get lost. Sometimes. Not most of the time, though.

I suppose my point is: unless you have a genuine reason to contact someone who has your work, and there's a genuine time-issue ... then don't. Things move slowly, but they move. Book get read. Art gets loved. Dreams form and things grow.

Be patient, and be professional. Those things do go together.

Here's to the waiters, eh?

Photo Credit: Mmatthias


  1. I already know where Liechtenstein is! (And how to spell it--I am sorry to be that person.) This must mean that I am destined for great things as a writer. It is a fascinating little place--you can hike across it in a day, and it's so small that if you want to become a citizen, the entire country votes on whether you're valuable enough to stay.

    I hear you, though. All I usually wait for is beta readers and CP's, and that is difficult enough. And sometimes, though this is a different sort of thing, you even have to be patient with yourself.

    1. And doubly landlocked, though clearly tricky to spell...!

      I don't actually use beta-readers, though it seems like it's becoming almost 'best practice' among budding writers. I have a hard time letting my wife read my books, let alone others. Find it helpful overall?

  2. Great post. And it's usually the case that the waiters can't afford to eat at the establishment!

    1. Hey, being able to eat's a good thing for a writer to aim for...

      Glad you liked!