It’s O’Dark Thirty in the Salerni house, and eight people are stumbling around, grabbing a bite to eat and mumbling at each other with as much civility as we can muster for this ungodly time of day. Then my niece, Olivia, puts on her fishing hat and gives me a big grin, and I laugh and grab my camera.  With a hat like this, I think, how can we not get lucky?

Sadly, however, this year’s family fishing trip was a bust.  Thirteen people on the boat in the Delaware Bay for 8 hours, and we didn’t go home with a single fish.  Not one.  Even the throw-backs were few. We may have caught 2 dozen over the course of the whole day.
Sometimes, no matter how great your fishing hat, you don’t catch any fish. We had great bait, too – lively minnows.  We know they were great bait because the darn bluefish kept chomping them in half.  Time after time, we’d feel that one tug on the line and then nothing … and with a sigh we’d reel up our line to find just the minnow’s head.
The most exciting part of the day was when my dad almost pulled in a shark that was as big as Olivia (I swear!), but it jumped off the line before he could get it in the boat. 
You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Our whole fishing trip could be a metaphor for querying and submitting.  The awesome hat that didn’t help one bit.  The bait chomped in half.  The big fish we didn’t land.
Of course, we still had fun.  My sister’s family was making their annual visit from Kansas, and it was a great opportunity to see some of our cousins, who joined us on the boat. It was Olivia’s first fishing trip.  The weather was gorgeous.  My sister laid dibs on our brother’s fishing rod should anything happen to him, and I graciously withdrew any claim to it. (He was the only one pulling in fish, even if they were too small.)  We had sandwiches and Tastykakes and beer.  We were disappointed not to have a fish dinner that night, but that won’t stop us from booking another trip next year.
I don’t know if the writing metaphor completely works here, because when you’re querying and submitting and pulling in no fish, nobody says they had fun anyway.  The company might be good, if you’re hanging out in the blogosphere with your writing pals, and there may or may not be Tastykakes and beer. (Probably not Tastykakes if you live outside Pennsylvania.)  But even if it’s no fun whatsoever, you can’t stop trying.  Not ever.  Keep casting your line, and don’t forget to book the next trip. Bring your best hat – and a fourteenth person, for heaven’s sake.  Thirteen fishermen was probably a bad idea …