As of about half an hour ago, a query and sample chapter for my novel are out there in cyberspace, sitting in an editor's inbox.
I was prepared. The chapter was polished; I'd been over the query letter so many times I was getting slightly sick of it (in the best possible way). I'd gotten outside criticism on both parts of my submission. I'd researched the guidelines and formatting.
I knew all of this. I knew it was okay; it was ready to go. But it took me a good minute before I could hit "Send". My finger was hovering over the mouse, ready to click, and I felt really almost paralyzed, or like a leaden ball of dread had built up in the pit of my stomach, so that I couldn't move. But the moment passed, and off it went.
Now, of course, comes the obligatory waiting and almost certain rejection (plus more rejection after that). That's fine. I've read up on the publishing process and spoken to writers in various states of submission.
I remind myself that it's really all about finding an agent/editor who loves my book enough to want to dedicate a lot of time and effort to improving and selling it. Out of the thousands of books sitting on bookstore shelves, how many would I want to read? A small percentage. How many would I like? Love? Smaller and smaller percentages, all based on the quality of the books and my own finicky readerly preferences. So, on an intellectual level, I can understand how finding an agent/editor could take a very long time.
In any case, my novel is out there. I started writing the first draft August 17, 2006. It seems fitting to send it off so close to that anniversary.
And perhaps now that I've set it free, some new idea will take hold of my imagination and I'll begin writing the next one. That will bring its own possibilities, joys, and terrors.