Some thoughts about pitchwars-authortoolbox

Some thoughts about pitchwars-authortoolbox

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Pitchwars might be the biggest contest out there, but it doesn’t determine your value as a writer. Where you go next is only up to you.

Getting good a failure

I wrote my first story in high school and, as a dedicated introvert, giving it to my best friend was a momentous step. She made fun of it. To. My. Face.

I said I’d never write again.

Years later I had a friend who was a missionary. She made me promise to write her weekly letters. Since I had a dead end job and was re-living the same day over and over, I couldn’t possibly fill one letter with interesting news, let alone several months worth. Instead, I wrote her a novel: a historical romance set in her hometown. I sat down to a blank page and no plan and somehow managed to send her 12,000-word chapters every week for three months. She loved it.

No one else did.

So I quit again.

Or I tried to. Eventually, I had to start writing again. This time for myself. I wrote five more novels all set in the same world. I never planned to show them to anyone, and I probably never would have except I blabbed to my mother-in-law (there may have been wine involved). She pestered the crap out of me until I relented. After a month, she read all five. She gave them to all her friends, who also loved them. I had finally gained my first cheerleader.

I began submitting. 100+ queries turned into 100+ rejections. But this time I was determined. I started studying, reading all the books and all the blogs. Got readers and more feedback. Revisions grew into rewrites. More queries turned into more rejections. I did this for two years.

I got depressed and burned out. How bad? The final revision got requests in both contests I entered. Then, I pitched it at a conference and got another request and then three more on Twitter.

I never sent them.
(Do not do that.)

Encouragement during the Pitch Wars wait. #Pitchwars
No requests in Pitch Wars doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer

The novel still sits on the shelf, a victim of self-rejection. I went back to studying, and I started my blog. A failed writer starts a writing advice blog? Who would do that? Talk about impostor syndrome. The blog started because the more I read, the more I realized there were other bloggers giving terrible advice, advice contradicted in nearly every published novel I picked up. I may have left the classroom, but I’m still a teacher. My intention was to combat some of this bad advice by publishing articles on writing topics that had worked for me.

The positive response from my fellow writers, editors, and even agents (Yes, agents and editors you have heard of) has restored my confidence enough to enter my latest novel (number 8) in pitchwars.

Have I gotten any requests?

Honestly, it’s too early in the game to give up, but at this time my requests number exactly zero. And even if that number doesn’t change. I’m not quitting because I’m a writer. That’s who I am. Even if I never get a book deal or a spot on the NYTBSL, I’m still a writer. They can bury me with a million pages of what no one else wanted, and that’s ok. Because as much as I’ve failed at being a writer, I failed even harder at not being one.

So if you’re freaking out about Pitchwars and starting to doubt your life choices, take a deep breath. This is one more audition, one more date, one more interview. It doesn’t determine your ability to write, and it doesn’t determine your value as a person. There will be more chances, more contests, more queries, more paths. Pitchwars might seem like a moonshot, but the funny thing about the moon is, it keeps coming back.

Thanks for reading

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27 thoughts on “Some thoughts about pitchwars-authortoolbox”

  • Thank you very much for your recent article. I have shared it on my website. This morning I almost quit the whole process; work is overwhelming and OT is taking over my writing time. CP said it’s just not worth it (she is published 3 books) that we need to keep our job because writing doesn’t pay and rather than being an optimist, perhaps I should look at things realistically and all came crashing down on my head. I asked for a sign and your blog post ended up in my email. Thanks!

    • I totally understand how life can get in the way. And when so few writers make enough to support themselves, getting frustrated and quitting starts to sound rational. I’ve been there. Make sure you practice good self-care and you will find your balance. Good luck

  • This is so good. It’s hard when we’re in the mids of something as intense as Pitch Wars to lean back, relax and remind ourselves that this one contest is not the end of our writing life. Thanks for writing this and best of luck in all your writing endeavors.

  • Hi Michele, I’ve often said that the only way to get published is through perseverance. There are countless writers who give up or get discouraged. Your journey is not unusual. I love that you said you began reading blogs and studying the craft of writing. When I began writing my first novel, I just started writing. I considered that my “practice” novel. Later, I learned the right way to write and to put stories on paper. But, many of us go through that practice phase. It’s important, however, to realize that the work created in that phase is a starting point. Definitely not the end!

    Enjoyed your post!

  • Your insight is inspirational, especially since I’m on rewrites and revision. I had a similar experience with poetry when I was younger– someone I love told me my poems were awful and to quit writing them.

    You’re right, though: we should never give up.

  • Thank you for sharing your personal journey. That takes guts. I think everyone goes through the self doubt process when writing, but the only way to get better is to write more. There are many books I enjoy and others I don’t. For the ones I don’t it doesn’t mean the story is no good, it just means it’s not something I enjoy. But others might love it. Finding the audience who likes your style and genre goes a long way for building confidence. Good luck!

  • Thank you so much for this uplifting post. I needed to see it and your timing was just right. Yes, hard work eventually pays off and the important thing is to keep trying 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing this! It takes courage to reveal your personal journey. This is so important, and I hope Pitch Wars hopefuls will keep this in mind. It’s only one among many paths, and though it may be tempting to self-reject, it’s important to move forward. Thanks again for sharing this 🙂

  • I have a feeling there’s gold in your writing. So many great writers get no requests from pitchwars and gain success from the slush piles (like I just did), so I’m really happy you have this attitude. What do the mentors keep saying? That this is a highly subjective business? Soooooooo subjective, and add in that every mentor, every agent, every publisher is trying to find something that they think will sell based on experience but also based on their gut, which is more subjectivity. Why do we do this to ourselves????!

  • What a great, honest, and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing! I find many writers have “imposter syndrome” and I have had those thoughts myself!

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