A Little Pitchy

20 Nov 2019

Hello, world! Happy November! “Kaitlyn, it’s fast approaching the end of the month,” you say? A fine observation.

But I’ve, uh, been a little busy this month! A busy little writer bee (of things that are not my blog). In fact, even drafting this, my mind is antsy thinking about other things I should probably be writing instead. But also, I’m in bed with the lights out and should be sleeping, so the only way to write in this position is by typing in the notes app on my phone, as if I’m Taylor Swift or another scandal-ridden public figure issuing a statement on twitter.

Too soon? Right. Moving on.

What I really want to talk about is that I got into a thing called Pitch Wars! For anyone unaware, Pitch Wars is a mentoring program for writers. I’ll link you to their website here if you want a more helpful description. But the steps to my getting in and thus the progression of my recent months were as follows:

  1. Wrote a young adult fiction manuscript (which is A Whole Thing, in and of itself, but only step 1 in this story)
  2. Wrote a synopsis and query letter, which are the things that say, in essence, “here’s what my book is about and here’s why you should be interested in it”
  3. Submitted synopsis, query letter, and first chapter of my manuscript to four out of ~100 possible mentors/co-mentor pairs on the Pitch Wars website at the end of September
  4. Waited around, twiddling my thumbs, to see if any mentors were interested in reading my full manuscript for the whole entire month of October
  5. Received between 1 and 4 requests for said full manuscript, that’s one secret I’ll never tell. Though there are a limited number of guesses, so. One can speculate.
  6. Really, lots of thumb twiddling in October, and reading too much into all potential mentors’ tweets and other social media activity, quite stalkery and obsessive
  7. Sat around for the weekend leading up to Sunday November 3rd mentee announcements, mentally preparing for how to move on when I inevitably did not get picked
  8. Got in the shower on the night of Saturday November 2nd, naively listening to an audiobook
  9. Got ready for bed and fully tucked in by like 10pm because my life is full of thrills
  10. Checked twitter, saw suspicious uptick in follower count (a “suspicious uptick” for me meaning any uptick whatsoever)
  11. Saw tweet stating that Pitch Wars announcement was up early
  12. Checked Pitch Wars website and saw name on list next to Dream Mentors
  13. Ascended to alternate plane of excitement and joy
Shoutout to my best gal Katie, who brought champagne to a pajama-clad me within 10 minutes of the announcement <3
Shoutout to my best gal Katie, who brought champagne to a pajama-clad me within 10 minutes of the announcement <3

What a journey, right? ~*~and it’s only just beginning~*~ but really. We’re in the thick of the “revision trenches” now, which is a large part of The Whole Point. Shortly after the mentee announcement, my mentors sent me (along with a bouquet of flowers and a gift card to buy some writing books they recommended, so sweet, could cry if I think about it too much) my very first edit letter!! This means that they not only read and liked my manuscript enough to pick me—I mean, holy wow—but they read it super closely and thoughtfully and put together an assortment of suggestions for changes/improvements, big and small. It was both awesome and overwhelming to see for the first time; awesome because I can’t effing believe two near-strangers put such time and effort into engaging with my work and helping to make it better, out of the goodness of their pure and lovely hearts?!? And overwhelming because OOF now I have to actually return to this thing I wrote a few months ago and make it better! Who thought this was a good idea? I did! I love writing!!!

But really, I do. And my mentors have also been so helpful in processing the feedback, discussing it with me and seeing how I feel about everything, giving me new strategies for revising because I have basically never done it in any formal way y i k e s, talking through all of my ideas… it’s like the most extensive, personalized writing workshop ever, plus a shiny new pack of writer friends, all wrapped up in a bow. At the end, there will be a literary agent showcase the first week of February, but I’ll also have all these lovely new skills/tools/relationships/MEMZ to take away! I knooowww, I know I’ve gotta give myself some credit for my hard work n all that but also, dang do I feel like the luckiest gal around to be a mentee.

Now a few weeks in, there are, of course, challenges. I had one (1) breakdown over my frozen pizza during the first week, but rather than it stemming solely from all the changes I’ll need to make to my manuscript based on my edit letter, it was more of Me Problem. I was feeling like I actually know so little writing-wise, like I’m in over my head or fooling myself thinking I could jump into something like this with my total inexperience/self-taught…ness (not to mention my clearly strong command of vocabulary) and succeed. But I recovered that night and the pizza was reheated.

That’s been a theme, though, for most of my anxieties so far. It’s not so much the writing/revising itself that stresses me out—I have a revision outline I feel good about, I like my story, I honestly loved all of my mentors’ ideas and suggestions and they’ve helped immensely already. But staying consistent with, oh, all of my life thus far, I get very anxious about myself, the person, the writer. Am I cut out for this? Am I smart, talented, interesting enough? Def not emotionally stable enough though, right? Why did my mentors even pick me when all of the other mentees’ stories sound SO MUCH COOLER? My new mentee friends are all so funny and smart and nice and I am a weirdo with no chill to be found, how long before they realize? If I tweet this thing to my still very minuscule number of followers, do I sound cocky about my writing? About myself? That would be weird because I am actually one big walking, talking insecurity and have probably never felt cocky about anything in my life but what if?? What do you mean, ‘literally no one thinks about your words and actions as much as you do, Kaitlyn, get over yourself’???

Not to get any more dramatic about it than I already have, but this is the biggest dreams-can-come-true step I’ve had in…ever. Or at least since my dream was to be a Disney channel star, RIP misguided dream. And my writing life has just exploded from this tiny, super personal thing I kept to myself, my blog, and my few friends and family who I actually let read my fiction work, to a big ole community of other writers/authors/mentors/mentees/what have you. Everyone is so supportive, welcoming, and wonderful, but it’s also like the first day of school and I feel awkward and bad at people-ing, and I’m trying to make the best impression despite that fact, and oh yeah, hopefully my writing holds up to all hopes and expectations in the end, too.

So fun to be in my brain, I tell ya. Probably so fun to be those who have to be around me, too! I am thankful for all who put up with my neuroses and even indulge me in a little “yes, you do have redeeming qualities, Kaitlyn,” talk. But please, LORDY please, do not read into this as a call for help or attention or extra expressions of love—I will not know how to handle it and we will both end up uncomfy! My point, I suppose, is to continue being open about my insecurities and vulnerabilities alongside my exciting news and proud moments because I always find comfort in doing so. There’s this part in Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, where she wrote something along the lines of (heavily paraphrasing here), “I’ve been in rooms with many of the most powerful people in the world, and I promise they’re not that much smarter than you and me.” Michelle Obama is almost certainly smarter than me, but the point stands and has meant a lot when I’ve thought about it. I believe it’s awfully likely that most everyone I know and interact with on a daily basis, in some way or another, has no idea what they’re doing. Everyone feels like they’re “winging it” at some part of life. And if they don’t feel that way, they’re probably overconfident and might also be sitting in the oval office right now. AYoOoO she went there. Anyway, knowing others have such uncertainties and self-consciousness doesn’t make my own go away, but maybe if we were all more open about it, it would feel less like, “this is a Me Problem” and more like, “this is actually just the human condition.”

In other words, you should all be like me and make a blog where you air your inner demons for the entire world to see, preferably mixed in bad jokes and pictures of the world’s cutest chihuahua, and then we’ll all be happy forever and ever.

in case you forgot...she is reeeally cute
in case you forgot...she is reeeally cute

All that said, I am celebrating and saying yay!!! Super exciting things are happening and I can’t believe my good fortune and it’s amazing to suddenly have compatriots who understand and share this very strange passion for creating stories! Hopefully this is only the beginning of many writing-related successes in the years to come. And simultaneously, I’m an anxious, insecure mess and could very well continue to be, no matter what else occurs externally! These things are both happening and both filled with lots of feelings and thank G it’s the holiday season, a time when I am definitely not extra-emotional to begin with. But good thing I am an artist and can channel all of these feelings into my work, am I riiite? Cue mentor confusion when they receive my revised draft and find that all my teenage characters’ personalities have morphed into that of a 26 year-old woman with a dry wit and generalized anxiety disorder. #artimitateslife

Anyway, it is STUPID late as I’m finishing this up, in my bed, on my notes app, and my actual important writing may be suffering from sleep deprivation by the time I make this post. But art is also suffering, right? Oh, bad mindset to take on right now? Cool, got it.

I am certain there are more challenges ahead and that I’ll continue to freak out about myself, my abilities or lack thereof, that dumb thing I shouldn’t have put online that’s gonna make all my new followers think I’m a loser, etc. But I am also certain that I am incredibly happy to be on this ride. I’m ecstatic about my mentors, about the wonderful fellow mentees I’m getting to know, about all that I’ve already learned and continue to learn. And if the former is an inevitable byproduct of the latter, it is definitely worth it.

Buckling my seatbelt because we’re just getting started and also because we value safety around here…