I have heard it in creative writing classes and at writing conferences. I’ve seen it in online forums and asked of bloggers. They word the question a variety of ways; “How long do I wait for a response to a query?” or “How long do I give an agent to get back with me?” but it means the same thing. The waiting game. All writers play it and make no mistake about it (and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here) none of us like it. However, it isn’t the existence of this aspect of our reality that’s a problem. It’s the way we respond and that is evident in the verbiage of the questions themselves, wait, give.
Too many writers take a wait and see mentality to the process. Perhaps it’s because I waited until my kids were grown to pursue my writing, but I have never had the patience for a “wait” attitude. I don’t see it as healthy; and frankly, I don’t think it accomplishes anything valuable for the writer. The last two and a half years of my life have been chaotic and read like one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. I am aware of how often life can send things off course. When I send a query off or I pitch an agent, I lose control. I pitched an agent once and heard nothing for months only to find out right after I pitched her, she experienced health issues. Life. Shit happens.
We can’t wait. Send off your query or your requested pages. Have a drink to celebrate. Then, start a new project or begin edits of another project. NEVER sit and wait. Always be moving forward with your game plan. If you have goals in place, the grind of submissions should never stop that progress. I pitched my YA. The agent asked for the manuscript. I sent it. Months later, she asked me to send an electronic copy. I sent that. I followed up three months later. When I’d heard nothing at the six month mark(per guidelines), I sent a thank you for considering my manuscript and assumed it was a rejection.
A year later I heard from the agent with an apology and an explanation regarding a family death. She didn’t owe me that, but it was nice that she offered it. I’ll admit to being stunned. And impressed. After the year she’d had, she still took the time to read my work and give me feedback. She offered suggestions and asked me to resubmit. During that year, I had revised my YA one more time and edited my adult novel. It was a productive time. Now, I have further feedback and an opportunity to resubmit. Thank goodness, I didn’t “wait”.
What do you do while you’re “waiting”?