In the old days (at least this is how I imagine things) an author working in a solitary aerie would pound the keys until completing a masterful tome, and three days after mailing a box of loose pages to Major New York Publisher, the MNYP editor would call with great news: "This is a best seller! It'll be out for the holidays!"
Recently Steve Mooser of SCBWI crafted an excellent editorial in the Newsletter asking editors to be mindful that the new policy of "if you don't hear from us in 3 months, we aren't interested" is, well, cruel. That policy is hard on authors who sit on pins and needles, waiting, hoping. What happens after 3 months? How should an author feel? It's disheartening and enervating. I agree with Steve, though I don't know that this policy will go away any time soon.
So I've learned to think of this in a new way. Personally, I don't wait well (part of my anal control-freak nature). So I don't wait. I work.
The minute a manuscript goes out the door, in whatever direction, I begin or dive back into a new project. My own MO is to work on a very different type of project - say, moving from YA to MG or from historical to fantasy. I have to put the other work out of my mind, and in fact I look upon the waiting as a gift. A gift of time to start something new, to be creative, to read things I wouldn't read otherwise, to go back to my pile of craft books for new inspiration, to meet with colleagues, to catch up on publishing trends, to improve my craft.
I propose a new author game. Let's call it Extreme Waiting. Extreme Waiting is energetic and thrilling, rather than tedious. Extreme Waiting is a time of growth, development, renewal.
What do you say? I'll meet you on the keystroke. Let's go for the gold!