You know what I've realized? I love waiting. Funny, isn't it? I always thought I hated it. I submitted my first novel to Tor's slushpile last year. I didn't expect much to come of it—it took me ten years to finish the first draft, and I was just learning how to really write a novel. I finished a few revisions, just enough that I wouldn't be embarrassed by the book, (even though I am now,) and I sent it off so I could start working on my next book.
I guess over the course of a few months, however long it took them to respond, I got used to waiting. (The response came right when they said it would, to Tor's credit.) After getting the rejection, I felt kind of bad not having something to look forward to in the mail. I also entered a writing competition that gave me something else to wait for. I queried a few agents about my second book, and had a great time checking my email every day as the rejections trickled in.
I'm in the middle of a major revision, based partly on feedback I got from Gretchen Stelter. Waiting to hear back from her was also lots of fun. I read her reply breathlessly. I've gotten advice from two agents on my query and first page. One got back to me in a few days. The other took long enough that I wondered if she'd gotten my email. Waiting gave me something to look for in my email inbox, and a surge of excitement when the expected replies came. (Feedback is a lot more fun to open than plain rejections.)
Does it sound like I'm being sarcastic? Sure, it might be disappointing to check your mail and not get replies, but I think the rewards of waiting are a little like the random rewards of gambling. You overlook all the little disappointments for that one moment of excitement. I also think it's nice to have something to look forward to. That's an important part of life—as is hope. When you've got queries or contest entries out there, you've got something to hope for.
I'm looking forward to finishing up my latest revisions so I can start querying seriously. Waiting on other people seems to be easier than waiting for myself. How do you feel about waiting for news?