Disappointment, Encouragement, and Making It (or Missing It) “By That Much”
I’ve been thinking about writing about #Pitchwars all morning – mostly as a way to process what’s going on online and in my head.
My day began at 3am, when I woke up from a dream in which I was talking to an agent. Not cool, brain. I try to think about other things. I think about other manuscripts and other story ideas I’m working on. I stare at the dark ceiling and try not to think of anything at all. The cat moves around on my legs. Two hours later I’m still awake, but five minutes after that the alarm is going off at 6am. #Pitchwars starts at 7am Central time.
This is going to be a long day.
I know myself well enough to anticipate my distraction, but putting a name to it, identifying it as such doesn’t really solve the problem. Don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here hitting REFRESH on Entry #8.
Okay, I’m back.
Today and tomorrow will be compulsive days of seeing-if-anyone-likes-me-do-they-really-really-like-me (no offense to Ms. Fields). The longer the time goes with no movement – i.e. no interest from agents – the lower my expectations go. Not hopes, not yet, and I certainly haven’t ventured into full on Disappointment yet, though I’m beginning to anticipate what I’m going to feel like at the end of the day tomorrow if there’s still nothing… And that gets me to think about Possibility.
My expectations were raised (though not my hopes, which remain the same: a) get a request for a full and b) get representation) because I made it this far in #PitchWars). Not coincidentally, my theoretical chances have been raised as well, because I’m one in a pack of 37 that have more or less been cherry-picked for the agents. Here’s where the “theoretical” part comes into play – maybe what I’ve written isn’t their bag. Maybe “magical realism” is a red flag. All of these maybe are just as true when I query agents cold, but it feels like I’m closer because of the contest and feelings are confusing.
That gets me to wondering if this isn’t all just an exercise in raised expectations and dashed hopes (let’s say I hit this phase around, oh, noon or so, or one, I don’t know).
Here’s the difference, at least in terms of this contest: having my coach Michelle write to me not to point out but to assert that the agents who will want my manuscript may not be participating in PitchWars. It was a great double-whammie – on the one hand counseling patience and on the other offering encouragement. “This may not be the contest that you’re looking for.” The Tao of the Force.
It was remarkable how much a difference hearing that made. Michelle isn’t quite a peer. She’s got a great agent already and a book deal with her title forthcoming in 2014. She’s a couple of steps (BIG steps) past me. And that helped, both her words and that those words came from beyond where I am. A ton. Which isn’t to disparage the support I’ve been getting from friends and family, except that you pretty much expect them to be supportive, plus they don’t really have the same perspective. Appreciated? Damn straight. Does it mean the same thing? Critique partners have a closer perspective and agented authors, well, damn, let me just say it’s different, qualitatively. That’s all.
So yeah, feeling better about missing out on any requests, either by This or That much. Feeling pretty good, in fact. Pretty cool. Pretty calm. And not resigned, either. I mean, Michelle beat my query letter into fighting shape so I’m already looking forward to Friday when I can start sending this manuscript out with 300 words to pitch it instead of 50 and 5 whole pages instead of only the first. Gonna get my game on.
At which point Michelle let me know we had a request.
Calm: gone. Perspective: re-wrangling.