Last week, as I was putzing about on Twitter, I happened to notice an announcement for the 2018 Pitch Wars submission dates. They’re in mid-July; the YA submission date is July 17. I hashed out the math and—on paper, at least—I should I’d be able to pull Lady of Daemons into shape in time to pitch it to potential mentors.
I double-checked the calendar, calculated my work speeds, drew up a list of the things I’ve got left to do, and took my exam schedule into account.
And then I freaked the h*ck out.
For those who don’t know, Pitch Wars is an annual Big Deal™ in the writerly Twitterverse. Writers can pitch their polished but unpublished manuscript to four participating mentors of their choice. The mentors are published writers, editors, industry interns—industry pros, basically. If one of the people you pitch to accepts you as a mentee, they’ll work with you for the next few months to whip your MS into shape in time for the Pitch Wars Agent Showcase in November.
By submitting to Pitch Wars, I’d be announcing that my work is good enough to compete with everyone else’s. It’s good enough to be presented to potential mentors. It’s good enough to be taken seriously.
And that is a deeply uncomfortable thing for a writer to do.
Here’s the thing about writers: We thrive on not being good enough. Not being good enough is safe. When you’re not good enough, you get to stay at home in your pajamas and just write. You don’t have to worry about being good enough to catch an agent’s eye, or being good enough to turn a profit, or being good enough to escape the censure of the Internet. You just get to write stories, make Pinterest boards, and hang out with your friends on Twitter.
Life is good when you’re not good enough.
But if you want to publish, you’re going to have to someday accept that your work is good enough to be seen—and judged—by other human beings. I don’t know about you, but that reality leaves me feeling like:
There’s a lot that writers can’t control—who will like our work, when we’ll be published, how much money we’ll make—but we can control when we decide to take action. We control when we decide that our work is good enough to go toe-to-toe with everyone else’s in what’s basically the Writerly Hunger Games but with less death and social commentary.
Being good enough is a scary thing to contemplate. The mere thought of submitting my work to Pitch Wars 2018 makes me feel queasy.
But if there’s anything I’ve learned from last year, it’s that queasiness precedes greatness.
Pass the Dramamine and let’s do this.
Are you planning to participate in Pitch Wars this year? How are you feeling about it? Nervous? Excited? Bit of both? Have you done it in the past? Have you done something similar?