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When Your Future's on the Line (and in the Mail)

News from the life of a high school senior: on Friday, I received my very first response from one of the many colleges I applied to months ago. It was an acceptance! Dudes, I almost cried - not just 'cause this was one of my favorite schools, but also because I had so much pressure built up inside, pressure I hadn't realized was there until the acceptance email loaded.

As I'm sure anyone who's had the experience knows, applying to college (or grad school, or summer programs) is a nerve-wracking process. For instance, throughout these past three months, I've had no clue where I'll be living in the fall - or if I'll have anywhere to live at all. Throw phrases like your academic future and everything you've been working towards into the mix, and you've got the perfect brew for a slightycrazytrip.

Any of this sound familiar, writing-wise? Yup, that's right: replace "your academic future" with "your future as a writer" and you've got the life of a writer querying agents, or else one whose manuscript is on submission to editors. The processes are super similar: give 'em the best you got (an application or a book), and then wait. Wait, passively, for the decision of a relative stranger, someone in a room somewhere who holds your future in their hands.

If you look past the sucky aspects, like resultant stress-eating and compulsive-email-checking (we've all been there), that lack of control is kind of exciting. Anything could happen during this waiting period - everything is up in the air. The pressure that's building, buzzing inside you, is a sign of something - something great.

Which is: you're trying. Offering up your hopes and dreams to the whim of a stranger isn't a small act. It's a big one, full of bravery and optimism, brimming with the belief that what you want is possible to achieve, or more specifically, possible for you to achieve. No matter the result of your effort - no matter what that godly stranger decides - you've already won something just by trying. You've beaten back the anti-living monsters that plague so many people and just gone for it.

So next time you send a query, or enter a round of submission to editors, realize the reverberations of your actions. I'll try to remember, too, as I receive the rest of my college responses over the course of this week (yay!). How do you feel when your send your work out? Scared, nervous, exhilarated? Or something else altogether?
Emilia Plater

Emilia is a YA author who avoids studying, food that isn't covered in cheese, and waking up before 10:30AM whenever possible. A bundle of confusions.

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  1. Ahhh, I can totally relate to this. Luckily, the college-application process is a few years ahead for me, but whenever I send my writing to my friends and family to read, I always get...I don't know. Nervous? Excited? It's an oddly pleasant sort of feeling, kind of a combination of both, but mainly nerves. I feel like this is part of the process, though. I'm learning to deal more carefully and politely with constructive criticism than ever--a skill that's very valuable for a writer.'s pretty fun to get feedback on something you've worked hard on. :)

  2. I've not started querying yet, but I'm getting there. I think. Mostly I'm excited and excited and slightly scared because for me, it's a leap of faith and like jumping off a cliff. I've learned to not be anal about things and getting everything perfect and right and not enjoying the moment. So, I think that whatever happens, I'll push myself to enjoy the moment and live in the present.

    Yay for acceptances! Congrats! I wish you more acceptances!

  3. Congrats on your acceptance!

    I'm always a jumble of emotions after I send a query. Usually my brain does this self-protect shutdown thing, like, "Think about ANYTHING else to avoid freaking. Ooh, look, dryer lint!"

  4. Congratulations! Waiting for a college acceptance letter is nerve-wracking!

    I haven't queried agents yet, but I'm sure that when I do I'll be a ball of stress. I'm kind of a worry wart, so I can't imagine I'd be different knowing any email could be THE ONE.

  5. Waiting for college admission letters is super stressful. I got my first one last week from my safety. Now I have to wait on five others. At least I have a definite time for acceptance or rejection on Wednesday. I say it's even worse than waiting on query letters because it's literally the next four years of your life.

  6. Congrats on your acceptance! You're right--the lack of control can be kind of exciting, in publishing and the rest of life.
    [If you know how to fully embrace it, please tell this control-freak how :)]

  7. CONGRATULATIONS!! I loved this post - extremely inspirational. :)

  8. Thank you so much for the congrats, you guys! Lovelove your comments and stories :)

    TBF - Good luck to both of us! :D

  9. Congrats on the acceptance! I recently got to relive my days waiting when my sister started hearing back from all her colleges...hopefully there will be more acceptances for you too! =)

  10. As someone on the point of querying, I needed to hear this today. Thanks, Emilia. :)

    Congratulations on your acceptance! That's totally exciting.

  11. I always get a tad nervous when they go out. The waiting isn't so bad, but I have yet to experience what a full or partial sub would be like....I might pass out from that

  12. Congrats on the acceptance. And good comparison to querying and submissions. It does take bravery and optimism...well put.


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Item Reviewed: When Your Future's on the Line (and in the Mail) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Emilia Plater