They say waiting is the hardest part—at least according to Tom Petty. But I think he’s right. I submitted my newest manuscript, It’s Raining Men, to four potential mentors for Pitch Wars. The struggle to get the novel up to snuff was overwhelming. There were several days when I just shut down—no progress made, despite a hard deadline. I’m typically motivated by hard deadlines, so this was unlike me—and not in a good way. Overall, I’m a very disciplined writer. I write every day—holidays, my birthday, my kid’s birthday, vacations. I write, and I like to write. But, even though I broke everything down into manageable bites, my brain was not having it. How did I get through it? Manhandling myself. And giving myself permission to phone it in for several days. I made the pitch deadline with, like, four hours to spare, overachiever that I am. Of course, the manuscript itself wasn’t there yet. Close, but not there.
Since the pitch for Pitch Wars is the first ten pages, a query, and a synopsis, the hard deadline was only hard for those three items. After the deadline, I pushed myself to get the entire manuscript finished. Luckily, I got a big push by my critique group. My turn just happened to be right at the time submissions were due. The feedback gave me a major push of inspiration, and I cranked out a fresh climax and spruced up the ending. It took me about a week to get it ready, and I haven’t looked at it since.
Me being me, as soon as the novel was truly ready, I was like, “Hey, why hasn’t anyone requested the full manuscript yet?” And the whole time, I’ve been stalking my four potential mentors on Twitter. Several times a day, I’m checking on any hints of progress. I submitted late, so it makes sense that my stuff would be at the bottom of the pile. That’s what I tell myself when I’m feeling optimistic. Unfortunately, there’s another side of myself that thinks the story I thought was brilliant in concept, maybe isn’t as brilliant as I thought. Or maybe what I did with the concept isn’t good enough.
Knowing that insecurities and anxiety are normal doesn’t really help. The problem is that people are incapable of seeing themselves objectively—and that goes double for a writer’s work. Sure, we can have an inkling, and it gets more accurate with experience, but true objectivity is impossible. So, I can’t really pep talk myself logically or kick sand in my metaphorical face. All I can do is keep writing, keep learning, keep improving. It isn’t easy, but I suppose that’s what makes it worthwhile in the end. Success won by hard work and tenacity is much more satisfying than luck or even talent. That’s what I’m telling myself.
The show must go on. Still, wish me some luck, will ya?