I've been having a lot of those lately. This past weekend I thought I was going into labor on at least three different occasions. Yes, this is my fourth baby. No, I still can't tell false labor from true labor. Every pregnancy is different, and so is the labor part of it. But I'm sure when it ACTUALLY happens, I'll know for sure.
I've also had quite a few false alarms with my finished manuscripts. You know that feeling you get after the first draft, the 'yes, I'm finally done!' one. Except then you realize there's this called editing, and you're not quite as done as you think you are. Then, after the editing you say 'phew, that was a little brutal, but at least it's over'. But then you remember you still need to get feedback from critique partners and betas, and it dawns on you just how wrong you are. After doing ALL of that, you think, 'yes, I can finally query!'. Well, have you written that query yet? And if you have, did you get outside opinions on it? So you go back and work on that little bump, smoothing it out to the best of your ability. Did you do all of that? Are you finally at the end of this very grueling and long process? Well, congrats, now you can start sending your baby out into the world. Everything would be sunshine and rainbows if it wasn't for that nagging feeling that you could make your story better. There's that one scene you never got quite right. You start itching to get back into your story and make it even more perfect, except there's no such thing as perfection when it comes your perception of your own writing.
It's incrediby frustrating, and we've learned that published authors often go through this cycle even AFTER their work is out in the world being read and judged by others. Sometimes you just have to step back and let things roll the way they are meant to. Now, if you're not getting the response you would like from agents, by all means go back and tweak your story here and there, work on making it better, but we have to distinguish between our own insecurities and the flaws in our writing. I've had plenty of false alarms, and I'm grateful to have realized that it's not just in my head, but I do need to work on my story. And now it's finally coming to the point where those false alarms are coming up less and less. Pretty soon the real deal is going happen, and the querying process will begin. For real this time. Scary, but true. I'm sure you're all in a similar boat, trying to figure out if it's time, or if another false alarm has struck. Wherever you may be in your journey, I hope you succeed.