Pardon my absence.
I want to go ahead and give an update as to my writing whereabouts.
Lately, I have been submitting poetry to various writing competitions, and I have been working on editing and revising my novel manuscript, getting it in pristine condition for a writer’s conference in July. I am excited for this opportunity because not only will I be able to meet many other writers (hopefully some of you reading this post), but also I will be pitching my novel to an agent, who so happens to be one of the top agents on my list. This conference is something I have been looking forward to all year and it bears the potential for many great outcomes.
Let’s camp on this point just a little longer. With the opportunity to pitch a novel (something that I have never done before), there can come a heavy temptation to have fear or an extremely unhealthy expectation. I could either fear not having the agent request any pages and therefore feel rejected, or I could expect the agent to be overcome with joy at the revelation that at last they finally have found the perfect book, and obviously offer me representation on the spot without even looking at the manuscript…yeah, that’s not going to happen.
I need to find a middle ground, some place where I can manage my fears and expectations.
Here is when I need to focus on a key word: opportunity. Getting my pages requested is a potential, but it should not be the sole reason for going. Opportunity to meet other writers and professionals, and playing my role in establishing a writing community should be.
You see there’s a difference between potential and opportunity; potential is up to fate, opportunity is up to me.
This has been something I have had to work on, and I imagine other writers may not know what to expect with a conference, just like me. So when I have something that is seemingly daunting before me, I try to find small goals that I can focus on, which will make the event much more manageable. You can’t predict how things will turn out, but you can most certainly prepare and make a plan to make the best out of what ever happens.
For example, if the pitch session doesn’t go as well as I would have hoped, I have the choice to either slink back in self-pity, or I can use the remaining time and ask questions which could benefit any future pitches I will make, and my understanding of the publishing world as a whole. Another example is that I can have my heart so fixed upon that pitch session that I will fail to see the chance to cultivate relationships with other writers and professionals, which are equally important as getting an agent.
So for those who are attending conferences this summer or in the future, here are some practical tips to avoid fear or unhealthy expectations:
- Make a list of opportunities or goals. For example, making at least three new writing connections is a great goal. Also, attending workshops are great opportunities that make going to a conference well worth it.
- Think about a few worst case scenarios, then make a plan to make the best of them (like my pitching example above).
- Reevaluate why you’re going in the first place. Make sure your head and heart are in the right place.
- Lastly, relax. Your pitch sessions will not go well if you are tense and anxious. Agents know how to pick up on attitudes, especially if your nervousness and fear is affecting the passion you have for your book. Also, meeting new people will be exponentially harder if your focus is so inward that you can’t concentrate on those in front of you. Just take a deep breath and know that everyone is just like you; they are all people. If you look for the commonalities you have with others, you’ll find yourself more relaxed.
I am excited for the opportunities ahead of me, and I wish you the best with yours. Let me know in the comment section about your conference plans and some tips that help you prepare. If you don’t have plans to attend one yet, feel free to provide your thoughts anyway.
Thank you for reading, my friends. Good luck, and godspeed.