If you’ve been following me on twitter, or if you noticed my twitter feed to the right of this page (no, I’m not trying to make you follow me on twitter, but it doesn’t hurt to point out that I do have an account there, does it?), you probably noticed some strange things I posted. They were my pitches for the latest event, #pitmad, organised by Brenda Drake. Have you participated in any twitter pitch recently or in the past? If not, I can tell you they are fun. If you have, then you know it’s heartbreaking not to receive a heart icon (heart icon stands for “favourite,” which means the agent/editor who favoured your pitch wants to see more of your work).
Through rejection you can pinpoint some of your weaknesses, which in turn means you can improve your skills. For instance, a week or two prior to pitmad, I participated on #p2p16 for a chance to work with an editor for a month before a new round with agents would begin. Two out of the four agents I submitted my work to gave brief but very helpful feedback. They both said the same thing: my query sucked. But they also said another thing about the actual writing, which had me worked up to that moment. They said my sample pages were good. In fact, one of them called my writing “strong with great intensity.” Now, to a new writer like me, these are probably the best words any professional could ever say (yes, I did save that email for the rainy, self-doubting days). But they also pointed out my weakness, which is more important.
I’m not going to lie to you, I was angry at myself for not getting the query right after almost fifteen, if not more, rewrites. In fact, I honestly thought the last version was THE ONE.
Errmm… No! The joke was on me.
Thanks to p2p16 I now know where I have to focus my efforts. Can you imagine what it would be like to constantly have that nagging feeling at the back of my head that maybe my writing was the one that sucked, which would mean I’d have to rewrite the whole book again? For the fourth time? As much as I don’t mind editing, I don’t think I’d be able to change the entire book again.
Thanks to pitmad I now know my twitter pitches also suck. The good thing is, I don’t fret over it much. Why? Because most people can’t pitch something nice in 140 characters, minus the characters for the hashtags. Likewise, most normal people can’t tell if something’s good or bad from 140 characters of text. I’m in the same boat as everyone. It’s also a small, albeit valuable, taste/lesson of the rejections that are bound to come once I start querying the agents on my list. It helps toughen up in ways that rejections from magazines could never do.
So even though I didn’t make it through to the next round of any of those contests, I still got to gain and learn something.
If you’re interested in participating in any twitter events like the two I mentioned above, have a look at http://carissa-taylor.blogspot.gr/2013/01/contest-madness.html for the dates of some of the upcoming pitching events. It’s not a complete list, so if you have found another one, please share with the rest of us here 🙂