The Waiting Game

The line outside National Stadium

The line outside National Stadium

I’m frustrated. There it is, I’ve said it.

At the beginning of March my thirteen-year-old daughter, Brenna, was one of the lucky few selected to audition to sing the National Anthem before one of the Washington National’s baseball games this season. Let me tell you, auditioning is not a walk in the park. First, we got the e-mail on a Wednesday afternoon that she was one of fifty people who would be auditioning that Saturday morning. After chanting, “Oh crap, oh crap. Yay, this is so exciting! Oh crap, oh crap,” a few hundred times I rearranged everyone’s Saturday schedule so my husband and I could take Brenna to her audition. Brenna was incredibly excited and spent the next couple of days practicing with the Nationals audition guidelines in mind… You must perform a cappella and you only have ninety seconds, which is not a lot of time for that song.

We arrived bright and early at National Stadium on Saturday morning where we stood in line, freezing our butts off, for an hour and a half because auditions are first come, first served. But not to worry, the sky was a brilliant blue and we met a ton of nice people. The performers came from all walks of life. Some performed regularly, others only experience was singing in their church choir, but they were all incredibly talented and beyond brave to be there in the first place. The excitement was palpable by the time the gates opened at nine o’clock. After signing in, everyone was seated in the stadium—talk about an intimidating venue—where the performers are given instructions and told to expect an answer one way or another by close of business Monday.

Brenna waiting to sing

Brenna waiting to sing

I was practically having heart palpitations by the time Brenna walked out onto the field. She approached the microphone with purpose and—outwardly undaunted by the camera four feet from her face, the three radio stations recording her, the size of the stadium or the audience watching—she opened her mouth and began to sing. An interview with Brenna was featured on WTOP most of that day so I’ll let you be the judge on how she did. When you listen to the one-minute clip that is my baby girl singing in the background! 😉

Brenna WTOP Interview

If I had a nickel for every text I got from Brenna that Monday I would be a very rich woman. Unfortunately, we didn’t hear on Monday. Or Tuesday or Wednesday. In fact, it has now been more than six weeks since Brenna auditioned and we still haven’t heard anything from the Nationals. I have emailed twice but still no answer. I can only assume that no news means she wasn’t selected but I hate not knowing.

Not hearing is frustrating because there is no closure, but it is also a part of life. I can’t help but compare the experience to submitting a manuscript. You plot, you plan, you write, write, write. And then—when you think your baby is ready—you pitch it at a conference or send out query letters to editors or agents you think may be interested in the story you have to offer. Then you wait…

National Stadium

National Stadium

Most agents and editors will tell you to expect a six to eight week turn around, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I have heard horror stories of manuscripts being submitted, and then not receiving a response for six or eight months. At the Washington Romance Writers Retreat this past weekend I asked agents and editors their thoughts on following up on your submissions, because who hasn’t agonized over the do-I-follow-up-or-leave-things-alone-and-continue-to-wait dilemma.

Every editor or agent I talked to gave the same advice: If the guidelines say a six to eight week turnaround, wait at least three months and then if you haven’t heard anything… follow up. Just send a polite e-mail reminding them of your submission titled “A Great Story You Know You Want To Buy” (or whatever your title may be) sent in on such and such date, and ask what the status of your submission is.

Generally speaking agents and editors are not monsters hell bent on driving you to the crazy house. They are real people with real lives and a job to do, but life happens and sometimes they fall behind schedule or your manuscript gets lost in the shuffle. So if you find yourself in this predicament don’t agonize, wait at least three months and then follow up. 🙂


8 thoughts on “The Waiting Game

  1. Oh, Dana, I feel your pain! I’ve been playing the waiting game, in one way or another, for just over a year now. But no news is sometimes good news, and regardless of the outcome, it is such a huge honor for Brenna to be selected to audition (not to mention being featured on the radio)! Moreover, I am sure it was an experience that all of you will remember. So I will wish Brenna the best of luck for a good outcome, as well as congratulate her for such an amazing accomplishment!

  2. Thank you Pintip! It was an unbelievable experience and Brenna is a very positive person so she’s not permanently scarred or anything, it would just be nice to know!

    I couldn’t help drawing parallels to the writing community where we often wait months to know if that agent or editor likes the book we have been slaving over. I hope your waiting game is over soon with a positive outcome! 😉

  3. The other thing to remember is that sometimes, for whatever reason, agents and editors didn’t actually get your manuscript and it’s stuck out in the internet vortex. I’ve had that happen several times. Good thing I followed up with them!

    My fingers and toes are still crossed for Brenna!

    1. Great point Kerri. You are not the only writer I have heard say that when they contacted an editor to follow up on a manuscript that they discovered it had never been received in the first place. So yet another reason to follow up! 😉

  4. Great parallels, Dana. It’s nice that you’re able to kind of understand that level of frustration from your own point of view. The funny thing is that it probably bothers you more than it bothers Brenna! 🙂 I think we writers are impatient creatures by nature. At least Mer-Writers. LOL.
    Good luck to Brenna. As several people have commented already, it’s still such an accomplishment.
    Shiny fins crossed.

  5. Thanks for stopping by everyone! I will pass along the good luck wishes to Brenna! 😉

  6. Dana Mermaid, I really appreciate the coolness and calm of your advice in this post. I think you wrote this just in time as writing conference season gets into full swing, and people start submitting their book babies to agents and editors.

    And I loved Brenna’s singing. Such a beautiful voice on that young lady. She’s got a pond full of proud Fishy Aunties rooting for her!

Comments are closed.