Last night I put on my Big Girl Pants, as in summoned my courage and put on my brave face.
Pitch-a-Palooza was in Chico last night.
Pitch-a-palooza. An event sort of like American Idol for books. Here’s how it works. Writers step up to the mic and give a 60 second pitch about their book to a panel of qualified and highly knowledgeable professionals. The panelists critique the pitch, pointing out what you did well and giving gentle suggestions on what to add or take away from your pitch to make it really sing. At the end of the night a winner is declared and the winner gets a face to face meeting with an agent.
As I drove to Chico, I considered several things to pitch and narrowed it down to a novel. Or a collection of poems. Or a children’s book. No, a novel, definitely a novel. Maybe. I rehearsed my pitch over and over again, talking to myself like a crazy person all alone in my car. I shaved off words and cut out blather until I had it down to a succinct 40 seconds.
I felt confident that I had a good shot at the prize. In fact, I was sure I’d be declared the winner. I was sure that after hearing my brilliant pitch Nicholas Sparks and Marisa de los Santos would suddenly burst out of the audience and fight over me, each of them begging to introduce me to their agents right that second. (Don’t ask me why Nicholas Sparks was in my reverie. I don’t usually read his books. But apparently in my delusions, his opinion is very important.)
I pulled up to the venue half an hour before the start and it was already filling up. I signed up to pitch and climbed over a row of people, accidentally sticking my tush in some poor man’s face before I plopped down in one of the only empty seats. Around me people chattered nervously about their pitches. Some clutched excerpts in their hands. Others awkwardly edged through the crowd with complete storyboards.
I sat with nothing in my hands, just my words nervously knocking around in my head.
And then the event began. There were too many people signed up. So, 20 names would be chosen at random to pitch. Person after person stood up to pitch. Some were great, some were awful, all were applauded for being brave enough to put their idea out there. I listened and learned and made tweaks to my pitch based on the panelists suggestions.
After nineteen people, the panel announced they would hear one final pitch. My heart pounded in my ears. I knit my sweaty fingers together. They called the last name.
It wasn’t mine.
How were Nicholas Sparks and Marisa de los Santos supposed to fight over me now?
I was disappointed, but strangely rejuvenated. I’d learned a ton about the book industry, learned about how to make my pitches better. And I’d sat in a room full of fellow writers. In the grand scheme of things, it was quite a night.
Back at home, I changed into my pajamas and sat down for a minute. I was proud that I’d tossed my hat in the ring, content that I’d been brave enough to sign up. And when I woke up this morning, I decided that I’m going to wear my Big Girl Pants more often.