Well, as I was going through the exhaustive submission sprocess, it occurred to me, how much trying to get published could be compared to...dating. The awkwardness, the nervousness, the fear of rejection:
Step 1: The Meet-Cute
SUBMISSIONS PROCESS: Writer researches agents (online, in agent books, by word-of-mouth), looking for agents who are compatible with his/her work. Then, writer holds breath and sends a query letter.
DATING: Girl keeps eye out for cute/nice/intelligent guys with similar tastes/beliefs. She searches at work, at the grocery store, at bookstores, maybe even online. She sees an interesting guy and makes initial contact.
Step 2: Reaching Out - Best Foot Forward
SUBMISSIONS PROCESS: Writer's initial query is polite and professional, presenting only his/her very best self. No typos, no grammar mistakes, no over-the-top/unprofessional gimmicks.
DATING: Guy asks girl out, and she presents to him her best self at the dinner table (cute outfit, big smile, good mood, dazzling conversation). No smeared eyeliner or obsessive talk about The Ex or food stuck in her teeth.
Step 3: Waiting (and waiting...) for the Phone to Ring
SUBMISSIONS PROCESS: Hours, days, weeks, even months go by, and still the writer is made to wait for something - anything - from prospective agencies. Sometimes, he/she hears nothing at all. Ever.
DATING: After a good date (or what she presumes was a good date), girl is made to wait hours/days for the guy to call. Sometimes, she hears nothing at all. Ever.
Step 4: The Final Verdict -- Acceptance or Rejection?
SUBMISSIONS PROCESS: One of two things eventually happens: The Call ("Yes! I'd love to represent your manuscript!") or The Rejection ("Sorry, not for us...").
DATING: The Call ("Would you go out with me again?") or The Rejection (Silence).
The main similarity here is vulnerability. We writers are putting our best selves out there, taking a chance. And feeling semi-comfortable with that vulnerability is crucial. Because, as with love/dating, if we become jaded, close ourselves off, and never try (to get published) -- we never will.