On the Other Side of PitchWars ’17

My last post was October 1st, 2017. In summary, I discussed being at the midway point of PitchWars and what my process was like: massive worldbuilding, total plot upheaval, fully reworked character arcs, and three to four massive revisions. During the contest, I worked harder than I ever have on my craft, learned more than I did in the three years building up to PitchWars, and came out with a fantastic mentor (shout out to Lyndsay Ely), a new book, and a community.

And twenty extra pounds.

**10 lbs are gone now**

I wanted to get back to blogging, but I was terrified of the massive time gap between new content and… PitchWars content. I’d worked three long (quiet) years trying to make it into the contest. I told very few people about writing because I was afraid to fail. It’s as if a chorus of I told you so’s and What a shame’s would come from the people around me.

When I was selected as a PitchWars mentee, I made a Facebook post about it. I owned up to my achievement and let friends and family in. People celebrated, were curious, loving, and wonderful. For a few beautiful months, I belonged because I made a space for me to belong. Every single day, I threw at least two hours if not more into revisions. On weekends, I worked from the time I got up until the time I went to bed. For a lot of people, that sounds like some kind of fresh hell, but for me it was everything I wanted. I’d made it here, and I was going to prove I could do it.

Then PitchWars was over.

And I still didn’t have an agent.

I still don’t.

Funny enough, I’m okay with that. ALL OF US STARS was the book that taught me to write. It was the book I needed to bring Lyndsay Ely, my amazing mentor, into my life. Because of that book, I learned more than I could ever repay her for in James Bond memorabilia or craft beer. I struggled with the guilt of not getting an agent– not for myself, but for other people. For my mentor who went above and beyond helping me, my friends and family that believed in me, and my spouse who has the patience of a SAINT. I’d come through almost three months of revisions, an agent round, and querying with less to show than I’d secretly hoped for.

I know, I know… It all looks doom and gloom, but hang in there, space cowboy.

Fast forward to July 9th, 2018.

I’m deep in revisions with my 4th book, a YA fantasy. I’ve strengthened the friendship and love with a CP who also made it into PitchWars. I’ve found a new CP and friend (also a PitchWars ’17 mentee). Those friendships saved my writing life. January and February were bleak, bleak months. I couldn’t write a word because I was petrified of “failing” again. They both convinced me to work a little every day to break the wall down. One of them has read too many drafts of my new book. I owe them a star blanket and endless coffee.

I also have a community of writers, agented, unagented, self-published, published by small press, and just taking time off, who are there THE SECOND I or anyone else has a question. Seriously. One of them researched a topic for me before I ever had a chance. They are kind, supportive, and outgoing writers who happen to be my peers. Whaaaaaaaat?!

Final thoughts to myself and you, whoever you are, is that failure is a messy term. Too often we take it to mean “the end” when it just means “starting over with a little more knowledge”. Your query gets rejected? Not a failure. It’s an opportunity to dust yourself off and try again. You don’t get an agent from a contest? The knowledge you gained is still in your noggin’. Use it to write another book. Don’t get into a contest? (I didn’t for two years.) Reach out to the community of writers you meet in the process. Find the ones determined to put their noses back in their laptops. Lift them and yourself up to keep going.

If I say it once, I’ll say it again. PitchWars has been the greatest influence in my writing since I started this journey in earnest. It gave me friends, knowledge, and confidence. All that even before I was selected.

Writing is a marathon not a sprint.

I’m still running.

Are you?

 


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