I knew it might not ever happen, and knew I was potentially getting my hopes too high, thinking this far ahead. But I began to research the specific "what if's" -- what if I got that elusive agent phone call, or got a contract? Or what if I got an offer, but still had other full manuscripts out? What's the protocol? I even went further, starting a file with "what if I get published" info - like creating an author website, managing finances/taxes, figuring out the etiquette along the way, marketing the book, etc. (By the way, agent-run blogs are the BEST resources, here - they'll tell you what happens on their end of things, and the information is invaluable. Kristin Nelson's blog is my personal favorite --it's called "Pub Rants" on the left-hand menu).
Well, for me, the agent stuff came true (wow), and guess what? It happened FAST. Faster than I'd ever, ever imagined (in fact, less than 2 weeks from when I first queried my agent). From one moment to the next, I was a dejected, rejected writer, and then suddenly, wham - I had an offer! So, in hindsight, I was glad I had researched the "what if's" - because when the moment came and I had to contact other agents to say I had an offer, I didn't have to scramble, worried about what to say or how to say it. I was already prepared. Same for "the call." I had already made a list of things to say and questions to ask, just in case. It might sound silly, preparing for things that might not happen, but it really made the whole process smoother. Calmer. I felt like I had knowledge in my hand that made me more confident.
So, today, if you're looking for an agent and are discouraged by rejection - I've been there, for sure! - I'd suggest researching your own "what if's." Give yourself permission to prepare ahead, in detail, for that day - even if you think it'll never come. Because guess what? It just might. And it might happen so quickly it'll make your head spin. So, be prepared!! It's never too early to consider the "what if's."