For me, there's a glorious thing that keeps me sending queries and working daily toward my goal of being a career author. That thing is Author Crack.
One of my favorite authors, Jim Butcher, once said that the tortured screams of his readers made him smile. As one of those readers who has emitted several tortured screams over the course of reading the Dresden Files books, I'm convinced that he smiles every time I curse his name. (Unrelated: in that picture up there he looks freakishly like my husband.) While this used to make me growl--his ability to take joy from my suffering--I have found that he is right. It is a beautiful thing when a reader yells at me for a cliffhanger or dangling hints in front of their eyes... when they ask "where's the rest?" or "when do I get the next one?"... that is Author Crack.
Recently, a professional editor read my latest book. She had a lot of positive feedback and encouraging things to say. That in and of itself was a boost, a good dream to keep under my pillow at night if I'm down from a particularly stinging rejection. However, all of the professional kudos didn't compare to the sound she made when I told her I had a short story between two of the non-point-of-view characters in the book. She made that low, slow, "ooooooh" sound that I make when my husband and I speculate the next Dresden novel, or the way we thought Harry Potter might end, or what we think they'll do with the next movie in a franchise. It was that sound that says, "wouldn't it be cool if...?" and "holy shit". That sound speaks of fertile ground. It is the sound of the gears of imagination churning along. All of the editor's enthusiasm for my project summed up in a syllable.
Yes, I'm glad to hear that a professional with connections to one of my dream publishers likes my book. I am eternally grateful for the feedback and thrilled that she sees a future for this in the market. But, the real compliment came in that single sound. She didn't just like the book as an editor, she connected with it as a reader.
That is what tells me I'm doing something right somewhere. That is what keeps me plugging away and firing off queries. That is my Author Crack.