Feeling Not So Chum-y

The writers conference I went to last month was a lot of fun for me, maybe more so than the conference I went to way back in 2011 when I pitched my book to Champagne Books. It was kind of nice being at a writers conference without anything to sell, to just be there to learn and enjoy.

I have to say, going to a writers conference with a book to pitch is what I imagine going on a blind date is like. There’s the exhilaration of hoping your hopes, the squirming uncertainty of rejection, the conflict of simultaneously dreading the moment to come but also wishing it were already over.

I’ll fully admit, I had no idea what I was doing at my first writers conference. I knew I’d be pitching my book, but spent precisely no time beforehand researching how to pitch. For crying out loud, I wrote my pitch on the back of a conference program during my fifteen minute lunch break!

Somehow, despite all odds, my publisher saw something of value in my story and ended up publishing it two years later. Amazing.

I just can’t help but compare the two experiences, the 2011 conference and the 2013 one. I was pretty nervous two years ago, soaking in every single thing I learned like I was going to fail the Be a Real Writer class if I didn’t memorize everything I heard. I sought out every single agent and publisher there, pitching them all while doing my best not to pass out from nerves.

Last month, however, was more like a vacation. I was relaxed, curious, introduced myself to other people but without any specific agenda. It was interesting to watch the writers who were there to pitch, though. They were easy to spot: Their eyes raked over my name badge, noted the absence of, “PUBLISHER” or, “EDITOR” and then lost interest. If an agent or publisher outed him or herself, it was like chum in the water at a starving shark convention.

I wonder whether I’ll be able to affect that same calm enjoyment next year when, Lord willing, I’ll have something to pitch. I’d like to avoid joining the fray, as it were, but know myself well enough to know that might not be possible.

We’ll see. Maybe someone I met last month will remember me next time and ask me if I have something to pitch to them. Ha! Right! And maybe I won’t get jet lag and I’ll weigh 160 pounds.

A girl can dream, so I may as well dream big.

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