While waiting to hear back from literary agents, here are two things you can do to keep your sanity from running off with your empty inbox:
1) Write something else.
I made the mistake of devoting all of my free time (and I mean all of it) to writing and rewriting my manuscript. So when I started to query it with agents, I had nothing else to fall back on. Associating too much of myself with my manuscript made each rejection feel more painful than it should have. What I needed was another project to broaden my own identity as a writer. And it didn’t have to be big, like a novel. It could be a short story, or a picture book. With multiple projects, there’s always another angle to explore, another possibility…
2) Get an aquarium.
Yes, I’m talking about living fish, those silvery zen creatures who swim in silent circles to the soft burbling sound of the tank’s filter. Feeling freaked out that you might not be the writer you once thought you were and every agent will reject your work?
Go look at the fish.
Feed them a few pellets and see how happy they are. At least they look happy, don’t they? For argument’s sake, let’s just pretend they’re happy.*
*Keep pretending they’re happy until one of them floats. Then you can call yourself a fish killer/bad parent/generally inept person. I mean c’mon, who can’t keep a lousy fish alive?
But look at it this way, now you can have a deep conversation with your sobbing kids about the circle of life while driving to the aquarium store to have your fish water tested, resulting in:
1) A stern scolding from a fish-whispering misanthrope
2) A bigger tank
3) A new filter
4) An $85 bill
Then when you get home, you discover that your dearly departed fish, Taco, left something else to remember him by:
Lots of them.
Wait. How many?
Father of fourteen, Taco died with a smile on his face. And now your kids can watch the beauty of new life unfold in their aquarium…
Until the mommy fish start swallowing their babies.
Kids are crying again. Time for another, more confusing conversation about the circle of life. But we’ll leave that one for Dad.
So after all this grisly fish death and cannibalism, why would I recommend you get an aquarium?
Because you’ll totally forget about that empty inbox.