Three days from right now will be half a day into the first day of the 2017 Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference. I am not ready.
Early this year I decided, “If I finish my first draft in time to book the early bird special, I can go.” Then I decided, “I’m going to book because I can’t miss this opportunity and I want to grab the early bird special, but I have to finish the first draft before the con.”
Two months ago this looked totally achievable. Now? Let’s just say that to meet that goal I have to write approximated 25,000 words in two days and … Honey, that ain’t gonna happen.
Even if I hadn’t spent yesterday and today in a complete funk, it wouldn’t have happened.
The main reason I’m going to the conference is to pitch this book, and in fact the whole planned series. I’m set up to pitch to 21 (TWENTY-ONE!!!) agents and editors, 14 of whom are specifically looking for this kind of fiction. And I know very well that none of them is going to ask for a full manuscript right off the bat. If I am lucky they may ask for a written proposal. If I am very lucky they may ask for a sample chapter or three.
What the fuck is wrong with me, that I have this … this thing that I want to do more than anything else in the world, that I’ve wanted to do all my life, that I know I can do, and I have this patient and supportive guy in my corner, and I have a laptop that works and a desk to put it on and a view from my desk that inspires, and if I need a change of scenery I have coffee shops or a library to go to or a car to sit in next to the river or at the top of a mountain…
And I now even have meds that make my brain work better, so that when I sit down to write the words just roll out of my fingers and onto the screen…
And I still have whole days in which fear sticks its hand in my chest and squeeeeeezes. Fear of what, you ask? Damfino. Failure, mainly. Rejection too. Mainly I’m just scared of sucking.
What if it’s no good? Actually … that’s not really what’s worrying me. That’s not arrogance; it’s plain good sense – if I didn’t think I could write, and specifically that I could write this book, I’d be doing something easier and more fun, like gardening or training my dog. It’s not great literature and it needs some hefty pummeling by both me and beta readers, but it’s a fun little story about something that should appeal to quite a wide readership base.
What if I’m no good? What if these agents and editors look at me – my overdue-for-a-cut-and-color hair, my caftans and flat sandals, my foreignness and fatness – and simply don’t believe someone like me can have anything of interest to say to people like them? What if I accidentally say something wildly inappropriate and they think I’m too weird to work with? What if they listen to my pitch about an alphabet series – 26 books, two per year – and think, “Yeah, right, it’s taken you over half a century to produce half a first draft of A is for Aussie and you want us to believe you can do 25 more full books in 13 years? You’re old, bitch – you probably won’t even live that long!”
What if I get to the con, and pitch to all these agents and editors, and none of them likes it? Sometime in the past 36 hours I asked the Hubbit this question. He said, “Well, you know it’s tough to break into writing. So if that happens we’ll simply self-publish.”
Such a huge, magnificent word. I thought about it for a moment, after he said it, and thanked him. And then I crawled back into my funk.
So now it’s Monday evening. I have two days to prepare. But it’s okay – I have a plan.
- Tonight I will pack my suitcase. Packing tonight will mean I won’t have to fly out of here on Thursday morning, running late and with insufficient underwear.
- Tomorrow and Wednesday I will write my two-minute pitch and written proposal, and edit the crap out of the first three chapters, and I will print copies. I’m not sure how many copies … but some.
- Thursday I will attend a training session on How To Pitch Your Novel.
- Friday I will deploy all the best words and enchant the shit out of those people (Yes, they are people, not demonic or heavenly powers.)
- Saturday I will do whatever’s on the schedule that I can’t care about right now, and I will not obsessively replay whatever insane thing blurted out of my mouth during my most promising pitch session on Friday.
- Sunday I will unroll that “we” like a magic carpet, and come back home.
And then we’ll see.
So how is your book going? And will you be at the con? Let’s meet for coffee!