Editors assume many roles in the course of their underpaid jobs – mother confessor, coach, cheerleader, lion tamer, and, yes, psychiatrist. I’m going into shrink mode, so bear with me because this warrants being said.
We all know being a writer can be mentally exhausting. You’ve spent a long time writing and perfecting your manuscript, researching publishers or agents, preparing your logline, pitch, bio, and synopsis all with the intent of one goal; publication. You’ve cast out the fishing line, hoping that you’ve represented your work clearly and invitingly enough to garner a nibble from one of us fish. Now you suddenly feel like a part of you is missing.
Welcome to après le query – after the query. This is the time where your hands are idle, and you begin to wonder, “am I good enough?” Maybe your previous works flamed out in a flurry of rejections, or this manuscript was such an intense experience that there is a palpable emptiness of not writing it anymore. Whatever the reason, you think you’re going nuts because you don’t feel like jumping into another project right away – which is what I do recommend while you play the waiting game.
My advice? Give yourself a break. Cleanse your palate. As a friend of mine, William D. Webb, Jr. likes to say, “Once you’ve finished breakfast do you immediately start thinking about lunch, or do wait until you digest it a bit?”
He’s right. I bet your “breakfast” was fabulous, so give yourself time to relive “cooking it,” “plating it,” and “eating it.” Savor every bite, take a lingering delight in the “ingredients” that combined together to make such a fabulous dish. Heck, with all that investment over the “meal,” it would be normal to feel a sense of loss. Do what William suggests and let the experience digest. Don’t push the process, but rather, let your feelings of readiness to move on come in their own time.
And don’t worry; you’re allowed to feel like meatloaf every now and then. Writing is a tough business and the ego isn’t surrounded by one of those really cool Star Trek shields. Set your phaser to stun, have a margarita, and begin writing a new book when you’re ready because you need something that will help you keep your eyes off the calendar.
Remember that queries take time, and it’s not unusual to wait four months to hear anything. Our desks are all crowded, so diving into a new work is the healthiest diversion I can think of. Resist the temptation to contact the editor after a couple weeks. It’s irksome to receive a phone call or email asking, “Didja get my query? Huh? Huh?” If three to four months have passed, then you are generally ok to contact the editor.
Okay, our therapy session is over. Get off the couch and go write a bestseller.