When I’m writing, for instance (hence the reason Hubster International wears headphones to watch TV; I can’t write with noise.)
But when the silence comes from agents, the silence is unbearable. I thought it was bad when it was just my initial submission I was waiting on, or rather the much anticipated, gut-punching rejections from my initial submission. But I have discovered that the silence following the submission of a full manuscript is worse. Oh, it’s so much worse.
First come the questions. Is it good that I haven’t heard anything, because they are reading and not yet rejecting my work? Or is it bad that they haven’t contacted me straight away? Should I pester them? (No, the answer is always no. Do not, repeat, DO NOT, pester.)
Next is the slow spiral to despair. Several of my friends have been signed in the last few months, highlighting the fact that I have not. (yet, I keep telling myself, I have not been signed yet.) I must be terrible. Worse, I must be blind to my own terrible, terrible writing because I actually like my book, a lot. Which must make me a self-important, arrogant show-off. (“Jesus, honey!” Dominic says at this point, as I have gone way past the stage where I can talk myself round, “chill out! It’ll happen!”)
What I have also discovered is how terrible I am at taking my own advice. “Write something new!” I say in an irritatingly chirpy voice to friends in a similar position. “Take this opportunity to research your next book, plan the plot for your next book, write an article or short story to take your mind off it.”
I CAN NEVER TAKE MY MIND OFF IT.
Because the IT I’m waiting for isn’t just an agent contacting me. It’s not even a rejection anymore, despite the statistics telling me how very likely this is. No, the IT I’m waiting on now is far scarier, far more important. It’s the word that will make the past two and a half years of bloody hard work and no social life worthwhile.
The IT I’m waiting on, obsessively refreshing my emails for, is that magic YES.
And until I hear it, read it, see it, the silence is far from golden. It’s goddamn unbearable.