I was getting ready to go to the NESCBWI conference in Springfield, MA. I needed to make sure I had business cards and in doing so, I wanted to make sure that my website was also up-to-date.
I realized I had this section called Thoughts. You know, the section you're in right now? I realized I hadn't posted a Thought since... 2013! Holy smokes!
My thoughts had become..Thoughtless.
It dawned on me: I'd originally been using this space as a home to post new drawings. But in the past few years, my focus had shifted a bit. I started to work on a longer piece of work, a middle grade novel. I'd been busily writing. Attending critique groups. Taking classes. Going to The Writers' Loft. And this poor, lonely space sat untouched and forgotten. Really forgotten.
While packing and getting ready, I asked myself: To post or not to post?
I didn't have time for a pithy entry.
Away I went, leaving the website, dusty and alone for the weekend.
At the conference, there's this thing on Friday night. An event called Pitchapalooza where The Book Doctors draw names out of a hat and some lucky, nervous writers get the chance to pitch their manuscript to a crowded ballroom and a panel of judges.
I threw my name in the bucket when I first arrived. I walked away and hesitated. Was I crazy? Did I really want to do that? I felt uneasy even though I had practiced my pitch for days: in the car, at the breakfast table, over dinner with friends.
But it was too late. My name was lost in a pile of paper slips. I went off to my workshop, trying to put it out of my mind.
That night, I sat, nervous, on the verge of either fainting or getting sick.
They pulled the first name:
I made my way up to the stage, white-knuckled the podium and pitched.
I did it! No passing out or anything. The judges were kind, welcoming and spot on with their comments. Phew! I watched the other pitchers, cheering and clapping with my still-shaking hands.
After all the participants had their turn, the judges convened behind a curtain, wizard-of-oz-style, and returned with their verdict. The winner: Rajani LaRocca! Go Rajani! Her pitch was awesome!
And the runner-up: ME! Get outta town!
The whole night was nerve-wracking, surreal and wonderful. Thank you, Arielle Eckstut, David Henry Sterry, Jennifer Laughran, Eileen Robinson and Rebecca Podos! And kudos to all the writers who pitched! Bravery was in the air!
Now, we're all home from the conference. Inspired and full to the gills with new information. Back to our real lives: working, laundry, dirty dishes. It's time to return to the keyboard, the paper and pencil, the studio.
I'm feeling thankful for NESCBWI. There are too many words to say how wonderful this community is and how lucky we are to be a part of it.
Also, a big shout out to The Writers' Loft. Besides helping me to sharpen my pitch, I can't begin to tell you how much I have learned from its group of talented writers. I feel fortunate to have writer friends there that I can share my triumphs, my tears and, of course, plenty of laughter.
And, it wouldn't be possible without Heather Kelly who created the Loft. It's like the Field of Dreams for writers. She built it and we keep showing up, moving forward, making our dreams come true, one word at a time.