On Monday night I entered my first chapter and newly spiffed up query letter into Pitch Wars. If you don’t know what it is, the simple answer is a competition where new authors vie for their chance at being mentored by an author/editor for two months and then have their work showcased before a group of (excellent!) agents.
The truth is though, Pitch Wars is a lot more than just a competition. It started with a mad scramble to get my query letter just right. That meant about five edits, a whole new one, and then a Frankenstein-like merging of my two letters to get a new, kick-ass query. Next I made sure my manuscript was as polished as possible. I’d already been through four long edits, but I knew it needed a final look. I did as much as I possibly could in the time I had, and got my chapter 1 ready to send. I made the non-obligatory #PimpMyBio Mentee profile and sent my stuff off into the big scary world. My eyes were red, my hands were shaking, I was hungry and sleep-deprived, but I got it all in on time damn it.
I thought that would be that. I’d have to wait for the results, and just wait and eat pizza in the mean time. BUT IT WASN’T. I made a mentee support chat group on google and we’ve all been venting, talking about writing, bacon and already have inside jokes (hi Elliot). It’s been super fun getting to know all these writers from around the world. I love listening to their stories and their hopes for their writing career and if anyone is having doubts about themselves, we kick them right in the ass and tell those doubts to get out.
The #PitchWars feed on Twitter has also been a great place to meet writing friends. If you write you’ll understand me when I say sometimes non-writing friends/family don’t really get it. Like, “why are you crying while you stare at Microsoft word? Why are you hugging your laptop? Why are you staring at the wall laughing?” Writers do strange things, and it feels good to talk to someone else who says, “I totally laugh at my own jokes and cry when I finally get that scene right too.” I wrote a book about witches in the 80s. That’s magic and Rubik’s cubes. Banshees and Bon Jovi. Not everybody gets me. Writers do.
I’ve also gotten to chat with a few of the participating mentors and learn a lot from the tips they’ve posted on Twitter. Even if I don’t get picked for the next round, I’ve learned so much to bring with me to query later on, and that to me makes it worth it. Some of the mentors have been mentees in prior Pitch Wars, and it’s great to read their perspective on it from the other side, and also telling that they would come back to participate. To have the opportunity to chat with people who have been where I am now and make friends with them really makes me excited.
I’ve had to peel myself away from Twitter and from refreshing my Gmail app and remind myself of everything else around me. It’s really easy to get caught up in the excitement of everything and forget that if things don’t pan out in this competition, it doesn’t mean curtains for your writing career. Like any creative endeavor there’s a chance people won’t connect with what you’ve made, or that it’s just not ready for the world. There were 1,591 entries in this year’s competition. 1,591! But if us writers think the odds in the Pitch Wars Mentor Inboxes are discouraging, we probably don’t have a good grasp on just how much of a shit-show it is in agent inboxes. Spoiler alert: there’s even more competition. So to me, if nothing else, Pitch Wars is good practice. It’s a good way to get a handle on waiting which, never really ends when you’re a writer, and a good way to learn to have balance in my life even when I’m freaking out inside.
Pitch Wars has brought a bunch of people who didn’t know one another together, and while it’s not exactly Saturday detention, it is the kind of situation that can surprise you, if you let it. So to everyone who took the plunge, give yourself a pat on the back and have a block of cheese. You were brave with your writing, and that’s the hardest part. If you’re a Pitch Wars Mentee hopeful, please follow me on Twitter so we can be friends! Good luck to all!
So, I didn’t get in *weeps* but in all seriousness I do not regret it for one second. It was hard not seeing my name on that list – I shoved an entire ice cream sandwich in my mouth. It was the saddest most delicious treat I’d ever had. Because while I was making the ugly crying face, I was also elated for my friends who made it in. I was happy that I had the guts to put myself out there and in a giant way too, because everyone knew I was doing it.
It’s not easy to do that, to put on a brave face even though inside you’re wondering, am I actually good enough? I don’t have the answer to that. But I do know that I’ve already gained a group of writing friends who get me. I’ve gained a CP, beta readers and friends. Real friends who understand the horrible, wonderful life of a writer. I’ve met people willing to take their time to read my work, to give me feedback, to help me reach my goal. And I know I believe in my story. It might not be where it needs to be…yet, but you better believe I’m already working towards getting it there. I’ve also gotten incredible feedback and encouragement from the pw mentors and am excited to keep supporting them, their mentees, and the new (for me) writing community I’ve found online.
Pitch wars is an awesome competition, but the best part about it besides the community, is that it’s just one of many opportunities. This was not my path to take, for whatever reason, and now it’s time to find out what’s next for me and The Riddle of The Timekeeper. I suspect good things are in my future, but first comes a little hard work.
UPDATE # 2:
In May of 2016, I signed with Michelle Richter & Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary. I owe a big part of that awesome accomplishment to the friends I made during Pitch Wars and the help and guidance they gave me.