Writers know what it means to struggle. We struggle with words. We struggle with plots. We struggle with characters and their development. We struggle with word counts and then we struggle with trying to get our work published.
At the beginning of my journey, everything felt somewhat easy. I was only writing a few months, when a poem of mine placed runner-up in a contest held by the SCBWI. It didn’t take me long to get published in a few children’s magazines. I was over the moon, when a short story of mine was bought by ABC studios for a pilot series they were about to launch. I gained more confidence when another story was published in one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.
I was receiving many requests for my middle-grade story which my instructor at the Institute of Children’s Literature said he didn’t think would take long for an agent to snatch. I was hopeful. But all those requests turned into rejections. I received many personalized rejections, but they were rejections nevertheless.
I did what a lot of writers do. I tucked my manuscript away and started writing a new one. It was my first attempt at writing YA. The idea came from a dream. Yes, you’ve heard that one before, but honest to God, it did. The dream occurred about a week prior to NanoWrimo (lucky me). I thought, Why Not? I had nothing to lose and some time to spare.
I can’t remember if I completed the ms within the month, but it was certainly on its way to becoming my second completed manuscript.
After many critique sessions and hours and hours of edits, I had a shiny new manuscript. After some encouragement and great feedback, I was ready to bring this new manuscript to a writer’s conference.
I submitted my first pages to a well-known author and a few agents prior to the conference and counted the days until I’d be in their presence hearing their thoughts.
I became giddy when during the one-on-one with the author, she told me that mine was her favorite and she even put stars all along the top to remind her when I came up to her table to receive my feedback. She said she saw this book as a movie and she, like my instructor at the ICL said she didn’t think it would be long for me to snatch an agent.
I also met with an agent one-on-one that day, who also seemed equally excited. She gave me ideas and said to forward her the whole manuscript when I returned home. She explained that she didn’t care if the writing was still raw and the story was still developing, she would help me hash it out.
I was there. I was close to achieving my goal. I imagined my book cover. I dreamed of going on author signings and now it felt like those dreams may come true.
But then, nothing happened. Nothing. The agent and I spoke via e-mail a few times and then she left her agency. My writing partner decided that she wasn’t going to write anymore. Hope turned to despair and I convinced myself that it was only a pipe dream. A silly dream that was never going to come true.
I sulked, I cried, I gave up. But, then I came back. I started again. I was not going to quit dreaming. I was not going to quit writing.
My journey began again. I started sending out queries. Once again, I started receiving requests. But, those requests turned into rejections and the new-found hope was once again starting to diminish. Self-doubt returned.
What I learned through the querying process for both manuscripts is that both have something that catches the agent’s attention enough for them to request, but there must be something lacking that makes them decide not to offer representation.
I need Pitch Wars because maybe the mentors can help me see what is missing. I’m not afraid of hard work. I will do what needs to be done.
Everyone entering Pitch Wars needs it for a reason, what is your reason?