I remember the day I got my first bite from an agent. It was the summer of 2005 going into my senior year at the University of North Carolina. Joshua Bilmes of JABberwocky Agency (clever name) wrote that he was interested in what I had to offer and wanted to see more of my work. It's funny, my first acceptance letter started out as a rejection as he sent me the latter by mistake at first. Once I got the acceptance letter, it included a handwritten note from Bilmes at the bottom saying, "Please excuse the first rejection." One word comes to mind that summed up everything I felt: Validation. Despite all the haters secretly thinking I wasn't going to be a success, this was saying otherwise.
I was good and someone else besides myself was recongizing it. It's the joy of being wanted, a feeling of euphoria that makes you want to stay in that moment in time forever. It's hard looking past that point, for reality to set in once again. It's like the aftermath of asking a girl out and she says, "Sure, why not?" Now, what? You've been accepted...but what if this person doesn't appreciate your style and the human being you really are?
Even after getting accepted into UNC, I spent the whole summer before my freshman year thinking, What if this is too hard? What if I turn out to be a fraud and flunk out? It's hard to move past the moment when that moment is really really good. Just ask Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. I'm sure, to this day, he's still bragging about being able to "toss a pigskin a quarter mile". I never got represented by Joshua Bilmes or the handful of other agents that bit at my query. What I did get was the confidence to move on, the feeling that I was a somebody in this crazy, mixed-up world.
It empowered me to enhance my gift as a writer and be better so that I could know an even better joy of being published. Ten years later, I'm still going strong.