Friday, March 16, 2012

Pitches and Perfection

You might have noticed I’ve waxed quiet for the last few months. It’s not that I’m shy or lazy or have lost interest. Rather, I’ve driven myself to distraction as I’ve typed to the end of my novel and prepared to submit it to a New York agent.

Last month was the twentieth ANWA writers conference at the Hilton in in Mesa, Arizona. Time Out for Writers was the best conference yet with a list of incredible authors, editors, and agents who attended. Though I prepared to present a class on Writing a Family History That Reads Like Fiction, my main objective before the big event was to prepare a pitch for Jane Dystel of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

Do I dare admit this was my first pitch ever? Several meltdowns and moments of leaning on a few of my colleagues as they led me glassy-eyed to Jane’s table proved the point. One nice young man who had waited with me for his appointment told me to take a deep breath and to just tell her what my book is about. I sucked up courage and plowed through my spiel…continued without breath until I realized Jane had said yes—twice. Wincing, I realized I hadn’t even allowed her to ask a few questions. Nor did I ask how I was to submit my manuscript. I just talked, non-stop.

I knew she saw through the nervous energy of my inexperience. I asked her what she expected from a first time novelist. She smiled and answered, “Of course, it depends on the writing.”

And so I’ve done nothing but write, edit, send it out to readers since our meeting—to make the book as flawless as possible before I send it to New York. I’ve asked myself over and over again, “What if it’s not perfect?”

Something whispers back. “It won’t be. Just give it your best. That’s all anyone can expect. But don’t wait too long, or you’ll miss your opportunity.”

“Yeah, yeah, I tell myself. How long is too long, and how NEAR to perfection should I make it?”

Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to that.

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