Sunday, September 19, 2010

Spewing...Good Day, Bad Day? You decide...

Ok - so, I think I just have to keep true to myself.  I really am the Queen of Procrastination.  I think I'm going to have to ditch the whole spontaneous daily writing project, because - as you can see - the last "daily" was 3 months ago.  Basically, I suck.  So - that's out the window.  Oh well.  I move on.  Not necessarily forward, but...on.

And if you're not in the mood for a serious bitchfest - I'd pass on reading the rest of this right now.  It's basically a sad, pathetic, lonely, midnight spewing.  Self-deprecating blah, blah, blahs.  A demonstration of complete and utter idiocy.  You know, that sort of thing.

Ok - so, here goes.  I decided a few months ago that it's high time I actually got really, really serious about my writing and trying to get published.  So, I joined back up with the League of UT Writers (LUW).  I'd joined a year or so ago, but the few times I tried to find the "group" session on the designated night in the designated one was ever there.  I was supposed to be getting a newsletter, which I never received (found out later they had my e-mail add wrong...)  so, when it came time to renew my membership, I passed.  Well, I decided to give it another try.  So, I looked up the website - realized I was right in time for the annual Fall Roundup workshops, so I signed up for that.  I renewed/restarted my membership.  I picked a new chapter of the league from the one I previously tried to go to and could never find.  I was drawn to this chapter by their info page.  They seemed really involved and organized and stuff.  And it really seems that they are.  I've only been to one session so far - but, there were lots of (what seemed) dedicated writers there.  The problem is this...they seemed really close knit.  Every one there knew every one else, except for me, of course. 

And if you know anything about me....well, I get mistaken for stuck-up and intimidating and crap like that all the time.  The truth is - I'm deathly shy.  I'm not embellishing here.  Put in the wrong type of social situation, I'm convinced I could seriously have a heart attack and die.  I've been this way since childhood, for as long as I can remember.  I mean, I'm so frickin' scared of strangers that I'd rather do really stupid things, like walk home on a busy road in the dark, not knowing if I'm going the wrong way or not, miles and miles away from home when I'm dropped off for a class I later find is cancelled, because I'm too terrified to ask a stranger if I can use the phone to call my parents up.  I was younger, of course.  This was pre-cell phone era.  But, what I'm saying here is that my social anxiety has been a constant.  I'm side-tracking...ok, so new group - no one really pays attention to me.  That's that.

I go to the roundup a month later by myself.  I guess I should be "net-working" and I was nice and I did try to talk to people.  But, they generally politely answer me back and then go their separate ways.  But, anyhow - I decide to just focus on the classes I want to go to.  I sit by myself.  I take it all in.  I make mental notes about what I'm learning to help me with a one-on-one I have towards the end of the workshop sessions. 

I think I'm pretty prepared for the one-on-one pitch.  Until I go to a panel with the agents and some others earlier in the day.  They mention that part of them accepting a book is also accepting the person who wrote it - in terms of marketing.  Basically, I have to be marketable.  Ok - shit!  Cue panic!  I can't even sell myself to myself!  But, I try to stay calm.  Rub the lucky ring on my finger.  Go over my thoughts and preparations in my head.  I'm good, I tell myself.  I'm calm.  I'll do just fine.  I'll make a joke.  Yeah - it's all good.

My one-on-one with the agent was a holy freaking nightmare.  I was a complete spaz.  I walked in prepared to give my one-liner "hook", to intro myself really well, to mention I'd read a few on-line interviews she'd given, to explain my book really well, but not give too much away, to be cool, calm, collected - tell my prepared joke.  Well, folks - I can tell you that NONE of that came out of my big, fat mouth.  NONE of it.  Not one SINGLE thing I had planned.  We spent the majority of the time with me trying again and again to explain what my book was about.  She was completely confused (all my fault).  I didn't even tell her the title of the damn thing up front!!  I gave EVERYTHING away - no mystery.  No cliffhangers.  No wittiness.   No jokes.  No mention of my (small) writing credentials.  No evidence at all that I'd done some research about her (which I had).  Nothing, nada, zilch, zero, done.  Basically, I was a freak.  She even told me how to submit (I think this was a courtesy to everyone who'd paid to meet with her, because - what does she care.  She gets thousands of unsolicited queries all the time and all she has to do is tell an assistant to watch for Donea's dumb-ass query and "No, no, no!!") and I questioned the process.  I know it was just a courtesy anyways because at no time did she say that "Oh, I really like your idea."  "Oh, this is perfect for me!"  After the initial confusion, her words were general and vague and could apply to any old writer off the street.  I blew it.  Big time.  I left right after it was over and cried all the way home.

AND this meeting interrupted one of the few workshops I went to that I really enjoyed and would have been really beneficial and was presented by an up and coming author and established blogger (Elana Johnson) who I immediately identified with and thought was totally hilarious and really knew what she was talking about and thought that maybe she was someone I could approach and talk to.  I never got the chance.

I don't know.  I learned some really helpful things.  But, at the same time I also learned some hard truths about today's market and marketability of the author and if it comes down to trying to sell me along with my writing than I'm pretty convinced that I will never, ever be published.  Unless, of course, I self-publish.  Which, I suppose, is an option.  But, the dream was to do it the traditional way.  But "me-in-person" is going to screw that up every time.  I know it.  I've never been good with strangers, public speaking, blah.  It doesn't matter how prepared I am...I get in front of someone I don't know and my heart races, my mouth drys out, my voice shakes, my hands shake, my eyes go wide, and my mind goes completely blank.  Or incoherent.  It happens this way every single time.  I don't know...maybe I need medication for this or something.  I think if people gave me a chance - were patient with me and really got to know me - they'd like me, and I wouldn't come off as such an idiotic psycho.  Sadly, in today's world...and in the writing world - if you don't "hook" right away - you're left in the slush....

(*later comment...but, will I do it all over again?  You bet!  Glutton for punishment?  Maybe.  But - truly sad is the person who gives up on their dream completely, so... humiliations galore?  Bring it on!)

1 comment:

Elana Johnson said...

Okay, first off, everyone has done something like this. So absolutely no worries.

Second, dude! Why didn't you come up to me after the class?? I would've loved that. I'm sorry I didn't get to talk to you.

Third, I got your comment on my blog, and would've responded via email, but you haven't allowed blogger to show your email. So email me!! elanajohnson (at) gmail (dot) com

And DON'T STRESS. Like I said, everyone has done something like this -- and I doubt it was as bad as you thought... I heard someone try to pitch the agents as they were going to lunch. No lie. And that's far worse. *hugs*