…but I do have more experience waiting.
If you’re following along, you know it’s Pitch Wars time. You probably also know this is my favorite contest of all because as I mentioned in my last post, it’s nice. Being nice and behaving politely is a cornerstone of the contest, and I appreciate the hell out of that.
On August 3 — the one day I was home between two very different trips — I entered my manuscript in the contest. Decisions won’t be announced until August 25, so by my calendar I still have another two weeks to go before I find out if I’ll be working with a mentor. So what am I doing in the meantime? I thought you’d never ask.
Here’s where I talk about maintaining my sleek calm plush-velvet demeanor (also about why I love Pitch Wars, beyond “nice”).
Everyone who knows me thinks I’m the cool kid on the block, the imperturbable one, the one with the suit of armor so sleek and brilliant that some sort of superhero must lurk beneath it. That’s all wrong! I am a raging wreck inside. Just because I have more experience waiting — all writers need to learn how to deal with this — doesn’t mean I’m any good at it. Like everyone else, I have a severe case of impostor syndrome (also known as “I’m the world’s worst writer, why would anyone ever want to read anything I write?”). I check my email incessantly and sneak onto the Pitch Wars hashtag and stalk my favorite potential mentors. I cheer on my fellow authors, think about all the things I should have put into my submission, and make notes about those things so my manuscript will be stronger regardless of what happens on the 25th.
So what am I doing to keep sane? First, I traveled. I spent some time in L.A., a city I kind of adore. Most of my time was spent in West Hollywood (swimming pools, movie stars), where film studios have a habit of popping up on street corners just like any other business (which they are). I got to do an internal fist-pump of victory over having got the setting right for an earlier draft of my story. Hey, even though those scenes are not in the current manuscript, I still derive huge satisfaction from reality proving I got something right in my imagination. I even chanced by the apartment building I had my main character living in.
Then I was back for a day, submitted my manuscript, and flew to Mexico where I spent a week largely off the grid in Baja California Sur. Although I drove through Cabo San Lucas, I stayed in the tiny town of Todos Santos. I have nothing set there in any piece of my own fiction (yet). I got to walk on miles of empty white-sand beaches, stand in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, befriend beach dogs, eat some of the best vegetarian fare I’ve had anywhere, and yes, there might’ve been a margarita somewhere along the line.
I checked in online via laptop only a few times for some necessary corresponding. My phone didn’t even work there, which was disconcertingly lovely! Being able to desconectar felt like a necessary indulgence. So what did I do instead? Read a lot, walked around Todos Santos, watched a little bit of the Olympics, met the local beaches, met a lot more locals than tourists, evaded Tropical Storm Javier (AND I’M JAVERT). I was supposed to go to the Sea of Cortez to swim with sea lions — the ultimate ecotour — but when Javier presented as a hurricane that was canceled. I’ll just have to go back and do that another time.
Now I’m home, though, and life picks up where it left off. I’m back to checking messages and fretting over things… but not quite as frenetically as I might have been had I not entered Pitch Wars last year. I learned so much from it:
– I wasn’t selected as a mentee in 2015, but I still feel like I hit the jackpot with some of the feedback I received from potential mentors. I took their comments and suggestions to heart and now have a much stronger manuscript.
– I have no idea what will happen with my manuscript this year, but I know that this is a subjective business and not being selected is far from the end of the world.
– Last year I forged friendships that haven’t gone away yet, and I think they’re here to stay!
– I went through the process and came out stronger. Going through the process a second time can logically only make me stronger still.
– This is really good practice for querying agents! In fact, I was randomly selected for a query critique from one of the Pitch Wars mentors, and her feedback was so invaluable I feel like I’ve already won something great. I have won something great! I have a much stronger query letter now than I did a few weeks ago.
To everyone reading this who’s participating and, like me, waiting for the 25th, good luck! All I can offer is encouragement and a tiny bit of unsolicited advice: take everything you can from the experience. You’ll be better for it, guaranteed.