The waiting is actually worse than rejection. Rejection is something you can respond to. You get to be angry and depressed. You get to hate your work and then come back around and love it more fiercely just to spite the people who turned it down just before you start hating it again. And then you get to start the process all over again. Rejection is active.
Waiting you just have to deal with. There’s nothing you can do to speed it along. Your query is out, waiting on someone’s desk, probably unopened. The only action you can take – a follow-up letter – is something you have to wait for, too. You send your query, and you wait. When the requisite amount of waiting is past, you send a follow-up letter and you wait some more. And after the first follow-up letter? That’s where protocol breaks down. The general impression seems to be that you can move on, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t stories of responses well after the out date on your follow-up.
Trying to get published is like being told you can only apply for one job at a time. You may have a dozen other places you’d be happy to work, but that’s irrelevant. Applying for multiple jobs at once is bad manners. Any employer must be given the opportunity to say no before you can move on and try again.
Sure, as a writer it’s the writing itself and not the person under restriction. If I have three novels I can send them all to different places. But “write another novel” is tougher than it sounds when the first one has only gotten one response in the last year. A nagging futility pursues you; why are you bothering to write a second novel when the first one’s gone nowhere? That writing a second novel, and a third, and a fourth will actually make it more likely that they could all go somewhere, someday is irrelevant. Waiting is pernicious.
I’m having a hard time handling the waiting lately. So I’m writing a second novel. It’s the only thing I have to do.