Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Museum Perspective on Waiting

Recently I’ve come to the conclusion 94.3277 percent of life is spent waiting. Of the 525,600 minutes in a year (thanks, Rent), we spend a good chunk of that time…on hold.

As writers we know the holding cell well. So well it’s often one of the most omnipresent truths a writer must deal with.

waiting for an idea to sprout
waiting to finish our book
waiting for editing to get easier (pshsheesh, like that will happen)
waiting for a solid critique group
waiting for an agent
waiting for a house to sign us
waiting for the first peek at our new cover
waiting for the release date
waiting to see if people like our book
waiting for another idea to sprout

Any of the above sound familiar? So what’s a writer to do? Worrywart our way through the wait? Lately I’ve grown convicted of just the opposite.

Life is one big fat wait. We are wise to soak up every minute. And of course as I was thinking this a museum appeared in my brain (but of course). I’m thinking, what does a museum have to do with waiting? But then it hit me. We pay attention at museums; we study artifacts and admire art. We reflect on history and revel in wonder. We purposefully slow down, sometimes stopping at a portrait, allowing ourselves more time to let it sink into our brains.

I want to learn to wait as though I’m walking through a museum. Instead of blowing up with curiosity about things I can’t control (things outside the museum, let’s say), I want to be impassioned about all I see inside.

More and more I’m convinced one of the greatest tools we as writers have is the ability to pay attention—to really notice life around us. This sharpens our writing, making it more relatable, and certainly more real.

And get this, what if we experience so much joy while on the inside that we actually become so distracted we momentarily forget there’s even an outside we’re waiting on?

Now, that’s living and learning wrapped in one gigantic museum-inspired perspective.

How do you handle the oh so many waits as a writer?

*photo from Flickr


Kelli Williams Wommack said...

The paying attention part is critical to our writing! just told someone this week that blogging was making me a better listener and observer...and therefore, a better writer! Love the analogy of the museum.

Sarah Forgrave said...

"What if we experience so much joy while on the inside that we actually become so distracted we momentarily forget there’s even an outside we’re waiting on?"

Brilliant stuff, Wendy.

Jill Kemerer said...

Boy, Wendy, I needed this today! I tend to ruminate too much while I'm waiting. I speed up to avoid discomfort, but then I end up pushing away the moments I could be savoring.

Loved your sense of humor in this, as usual!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Wendy, what a great perspective on waiting! I, too, love the museum analogy. Years ago, I read a devotion in Streams in the Desert that talked about waiting being an active thing, not a passive thing. I took away from that the idea of waiting with anticipation and action not with worry and doing nothing. Love the idea of looking at what's inside the museum. Thanks for sharing this post!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Savoring the wait.
Great idea, Wendy

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Thanks, Kelli. Yes, I too believe that blogging helps with the discipline and formulation of words.

Thanks, Sarah. Just a few things I'm learning.

Jill, Michael Hyatt posted an article recently how worry and creativity are two sides to the same coin. A lot to thinking about. I thought of this when I read your comment.

Jeanne, Thank you. I'll have to check out that devotion. Sounds like something I'd really enjoy.

Mary, Cheers to that!

Good to know we're all cruising in this boat together!
~ Wendy

Julia M. Reffner said...

I love this post, Wendy. I love the museum analogy!

Right now this really speaks to me in my personal life. I love these thoughts about joy...I know waiting in writing or on other things often results in spending more time seeking his face. Which is where I need to be. On my face, seeking his face.

Stacy Henrie said...

Beautiful post and analogy, Wendy! I think the biggest help for me during the waiting is remembering to trust God's timetable. That helps when I get feeling anxious about the waiting. Thanks for the reminder to focus on what I can control!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Julia, Yes, seeking God in this time is such a life-changing experience. It's when He can most show us how much GREATER He is.

Stacy, That's always been a toughie for me, God's time, not mine. I'm a fast shopper, writer, thinker, boater...all around mover. (You should see how fast I walk in malls!). So, learning to slow down and trust in His time is huge for me.

~ Wendy

Jessica R. Patch said...

Love looking at waiting like savoring art. Beautiful and much needed today. :)

Pepper said...

Beautifully written, Wendy.
And a potent reminder to seize the moment.
While my daughter was in the hospital last week, all there seemed time to do was wait.
Wait for the doctors
Wait for the test results
Wait for the surgery

And you're right - instead of just 'waiting' - why not redeem the waiting. Breathe the air. Live the life. Paint pictures of moments.

Keli Gwyn said...

I'm waiting for wonderful things to happen for you, Wendy. And I'm waiting until your interview goes live over at Romance Writers on the Journey. I've waited a long time to shine the spotlight on YOU, and my wait is almost over. Tuesday will be here soon. =)