I was quite happy with those three months, working away at Neo Noir (120,000 words btw), safe in the knowledge that I wasn't going to be hearing anything any time soon. But part of me was clearly paying attention because nameless dread began to cloud over me a week ago. Restless nights began to abound. A little tic appeared beneath my left eye . It took me a while to figure out the source. Three months is up. Will I hear back soon?
The truth is that neither the agent nor the publishing house ever said they would get back to me in three months. I made three months up. So why I'm getting so twitchy over a deadline I made myself is beyond me. But three months is a while to wait.
Part of me wants to give them a nudge. 'Just please tell me how I did, please!' But then I'm afraid that nudging them will increase the chance of a negative response and wouldn't I rather wait a while for a 'yes' rather than force a 'no' from them?
The difficulty with asking for feedback is that I have no leverage. I have no influence over these people and it feels that to talk to them, to say 'look at my work, I think it's really good' would actually detract from my standing. There are many people sitting in that same pile with just as much confidence as I do (if not more).
But I've seen slush piles in my time. I've delved through a couple and it's fair to say that a lot of submissions are bad from the first page. To many, simply writing something as long as a novel is a feat worthy of publication. To others the fact that the story is based on their lives is just as valid a reason. When you submit to an agent or publisher, your voice is amongst those kind of people and from the pile it looks and sounds just like all the others, clamouring to the agent that their's is the one that should be read next. Asking that the agent hurry up and read yours simply adds to the noise of other impatient wannabes.
But saying nothing achieves nothing too. There are stories of people getting answers eight months later and rejections at that.
So is it a case of sitting back and having faith? Or trying to push yourself to the top of the pile and having confidence? When it comes to something you made yourself its really hard to tell. You simply don't know how good you are, that's for other people to decide. It's just at this stage it takes other people a really long time to hear the question.
Let's give it another month. What harm's another month? Gives me more time to work on Neo Noir, anyway.