I'm not belly-aching about waiting.
There are lots of things in life worse than waiting. Earthquakes in Haiti, for instance. Invisible children in Uganda. I think I have my head screwed on straight enough that I haven't lost perspective that the hoops I have to jump through as a fledgling, wanna-be writer living in America are pretty easy ones.
But, just so you know, when you're querying literary agents with a project, there's a lot of waiting. You email your query letter, personalizing it for several carefully-chosen agents, and for the next seventy-two hours you're just positive they're all going to get back to you. So you refresh your email inbox about eight hundred times a day.
After day four you kind of realize you're being ridiculous and you stop refreshing so much.
Now, it's true, there are several agents who don't waste any time. They get those form rejections back to you pronto. You press the send button on your email, go to Querytracker.net to log your submission, and by the time you get back ... there it is. And you know it's a form letter rejection. It has to be. Because this agent obviously didn't have time to read the writing sample in two minutes. S/he can't be salivating for the next chapter already.
But that's fine. The premise didn't interest them. That's absolutely fine. We all have different tastes in literature. That's why there are so many books in the world. (Thank goodness!) It's like when I'm walking through Barnes and Noble and I pick a book off the shelf. Say I like the cover. I flip it over and read the description on the back. Usually I don't have to read more than a couple sentences to know if I'm interested or not. I'm not paying $20 for that! Set it back on the shelf. Customer rejection.
It's the same with agents, reading through thousands of query letters. They're human beings. They have tastes too. Many people loved the book I glanced at in Barnes and Noble. They loved it enough to publish it. And probably many people in the world are interested in reading it. Just not me.
But, besides those rare agents who are speed demons with their rejections, many are not. And that's okay too. See, agents are busy people. They don't get to spend all day just reading queries. They actually have to make money. And making money for an agent means spending a lot of time with the clients they already have. They have to sell their books. The massive job of reading queries is really just on the side, when they have a few minutes to spare.
So, I wait. Very patiently. And it's not so bad. Because there's always that element of the unknown when you're waiting. That excitement when you wake up in the morning, that maybe he or she will get back to me today and it will be great news. See, you never know.
I sometimes wonder if I can tell by just looking at an email sitting in my inbox if it's going to be a rejection or a request. There's this feeling: kind of a lightness when someone's asking for more, kind of a heaviness when I know he or she is not. Probably it's just my imagination.
But this week, I did make a little progress. I got my first request for a full (translation: an agent who wanted to read the whole thing), which puts me way up in outerspace orbiting the earth, doing a fox trot with the moon.
I'll land someday. Hopefully it won't be a crash landing. But no, I won't let it be. I'm going to stay realistic about this process, keep reminding myself that I don't want to be published until I'm the best I can be. And I'm going to keep writing because I love it. That's all.
And, of course, if I'm going to keep writing, I might as well keep querying.
And if I'm going to keep querying, I'd better get used to waiting.