I’m going to be blunt.
The past few months have been the hardest, most stressful time of my entire life. First, you should know that stress and I are long-time rivals. I have two soon-to-be-seven-and-five-year-olds. Stress comes with the dual-child package.
Let me clarify that I do not claim my journey to representation as more difficult than anyone else’s individual journey. There were many of outside contributing factors to my stress acne and late-night Eggo waffle binges, such as my minions, my student-teaching internship and finishing college (graduated with a B.A. in Education December 2017), and a little thing called Pitch Wars. (More about my entry here.)
Every Pitch Wars mentee selected can agree with me when I say that during the two-three month editing period, you feel every single emotion possible. AT ONCE.
I decided to join Pitch Wars after querying with no success with two different manuscripts. Looking back now, I can’t believe I thought those manuscripts were ready for agents to see. THE EMBARRASSMENT WHEN I LOOK BACK AT THOSE DRAFTS.
By some miracle, after submitting to Pitch Wars mentors/mentor teams, Rebecca and Stacey saw something in my characters and story. They wrote me the most amazing edit letter, identifying all those pesky weak spots and helped me take my manuscript to a whole new level. I couldn’t have asked for two better mentors and friends and it’s because of them that Pitch Wars was a success for me.
But there was the half-way point.
The point where you’re debating whether or not to just drop out and say you can’t do it because you still have so much editing ahead of you and everything you wrote feels like it’s crap, but it had felt brilliant when you’d had written it after drinking one too many cups of coffee.
There were tears. There was anger toward myself and my procrastinating habits. Late night thoughts of why I ever thought that this crazy dream of mine could ever be reached. But when I reached out to my mentors, I found kindness and understanding. When I reached out to a group of fellow PW mentees, I found out I was not alone. Turns out this doubt is a common step for many writers. So if you’re at that same place right now in your own writing journey, take a deep breath with me and repeat these High School Musical lyrics because they’re highly appropriate.
We’re all in this together
once we know, that we are
We’re all stars,
and we see that.
We’re all in this together
And it shows when we stand,
hand in hand
Make our dreams come true.
If I could sum up the Pitch Wars experience with one word, it would be:
After two months of revisions and line-edits, scraping by with barely any money in my bank account thanks to a non-paying, student-teaching internship, while still finding time to be a semi-conscious parent and wife, I made it to the Agent Showcase round of Pitch Wars.
Create a 50-word pitch? Write a brand new query? And a synopsis in case any agents request one? If writing a query already wasn’t the bane of my existence…
While studying for state licensing exams and preparing my teaching portfolio.
The excitement and possibility of it all drove me through it. I mean, this was what Pitch Wars led up to. Yes, my manuscript improved. Yes, I was finally ready to query. But the showcase was like the chocolate lava cake the waiter/waitress tempts you with when you know you’re already completely satisfied with the meal you just devoured. It was the cherry on top of that cake, glistening, teasing me with the possibility of sweet success.
The showcase opened and I exploded with nerves. Would my pitch click with any agents? Would they like my writing style? Is my title catchy enough? The questions were never-ending.
I received requests from agents, and I spent my downtime refreshing my browser for more. When I watched other amazing entries receiving heaps of requests from agents, I was over the moon for all of my new friends. But I couldn’t deny that the cherry on top of my chocolate lava cake didn’t taste as sweet as I’d hoped.
BUT IT WASN’T OVER.
I stayed up late the night the flood doors to send out submissions opened. I sent out my requests. I sent out my revised manuscript to agents who’d previously had a full request before I entered Pitch Wars. I sent out cold-queries to agents who didn’t request during the showcase. Then I went to sleep with a little flutter of hope.
And in the morning, at 9:49 am, I had an offer of representation from Amelia Appel at TriadaUS. She had had a previous draft of my manuscript before Pitch Wars and had also requested the new draft during the agent round. She had read the manuscript overnight, so I knew the excitement from her was 100% genuine. I had been nervous about THE CALL. So nervous that my phone shook in my hand. But Amelia and I connected the moment we started talking, joking about my southern accent, swooning over characters, and in a blink, my nerves were gone, and I knew I wanted Amelia on my side, cheering for me and my work. Accepting her offer of representation was one of the easiest things I ever had to do.
EVERYONE’S JOURNEY IS DIFFERENT
The road to my dream has just begun, the first true steps finally taken. I was privileged enough to be a part of Pitch Wars and my struggles laid in the expectations of the contest. I have friends and know many who have been querying for years or face heavier obstacles and struggles of their own. I leave this post with some advice, even though I am no advice columnist.
Don’t face it alone.
Find someone to share your brightest and your darkest moments with. There’s a wide community of writers out there with arms wide open, ready to listen and help you in any way they can. Take the opportunity to meet new people and learn about what this evergrowing, beautifully diverse community has to offer.
I sure am glad I did.