December Theme: A Gift to Give Myself (by Lisa Graff)

This month we're talking about writing gifts, both physical and intangible. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I'd like to receive this year, and I decided that the one gift I need and would appreciate most is one that I can actually give to myself:


I am by nature a very impatient person. If the bus won't come for ten minutes, I will walk to my destination, even if it takes me thirty minutes to get there. I'm impatient with people, too, if they're taking a long time to call me back or read something I've asked them to. But over all I am impatient with myself. Impatient and thoroughly unrealistic.

For example, I like to think that I can write a rough draft of a book in two months (I cannot; it usually takes me seven). I like to think that when revising, I can successfully rewrite three chapters a day (I cannot; a good chapter revision usually takes me anywhere from two to ten days). And I like to think that, if I really put my mind to it, I can write two novels, a picture book, and three short stories in one single year (I cannot, I cannot, I cannot). I plan to do all these things -- put them on my to-do list and everything. And when I don't achieve them, I am frustrated with myself. Instead of celebrating all I have done in an hour or a day or a year, I focus on what I haven't.

It can be hard to be patient with yourself when you're a writer who's full of ideas for future projects. Or even just a writer who wants to do so many things: make an awesome book trailer, seek out more school visits, start writing that picture book she's always meant to work on . . . Life is short, and there's so much I want to do in it.

But I know, when I'm having one of my more sane moments, that I won't do anything well unless I give myself the time to do it. Unless I'm patient with myself, and allow myself to move at the speed I actually work at (as opposed to the speed my crazy imagination thinks I should work at). Writing is not something to be rushed.

And so, Lisa Graff, as 2011 comes to an end, I give you the gift of patience. Please, do me a favor and actually use it.


  1. I love this post, Lisa--it's so easy to focus on what isn't yet accomplished, instead of celebrating what's been done. I'm going to be doing more of that myself, in '12...

  2. Patience is the hardest thing about publishing, isn't it? Well, that and rewrites.


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