Pitching and Pressure

Oh my goodness. Has it truly been a month since I’ve posted? I swear, I still care about you, dear blog! I mean, dear readers!

Imagine, if you will, an all-encompassing pressure weighing down on you. You wake up thinking about it, stump around all day thinking about it, and go to bed thinking…that you shouldn’t be going to bed because there is still too much to do. That has been me for the past month. Well, not so much the past week, but you know, the bruises from that pressure takes some time to heal.

I’m pretty sure that isn’t how God designed writing to be. Or trying to get published. Or any other aspect of what I’m currently doing. But it is truly astounding how hard it can be to actually take the pressure off yourself. To truly believe it when you tell yourself that if something is God’s will, then it will come about no matter how you might mess up.

Sometimes I envision myself, looking up at a God who is staring at me with raised eyebrows, and reluctantly holding out my manuscript for Him to take. He reaches out to take it and my fingers tighten. He gives a gentle tug, and I grasp tighter even as I tell Him to go ahead and take it. Finally, after a much firmer tug in the form of someone telling me to get over myself, I release it, smile prettily at Him, thank Him, and immediately whirl around to grab another manuscript/pitch/full-size boulder, and hug it to my chest, daring Him to take that too as He shakes His head at me, likely wondering why on earth He bothers, and why on earth someone would want to hold that kind of pressure when He would so willingly take it. Ah, yes. My delightful stubbornness.

Anyway. Despite walking around with the constant cloud hanging over me, telling me to work hard/work faster/worry some more because that helps, I did have a good trip to Minnesota. I visited with family, stayed at the North Shore for the first time in years, went agate hunting, and found that a refuge – a remote place, staring out over water that looks like the ocean, but isn’t – is actually great for thinking through things. Also, having my sister and sister-in-law around to bounce ideas off of was invaluable – I don’t remember ever being able to do that before. Normally, I hold things so close to the chest until I’m sure it’s right and then reluctantly share for feedback, jerking back with hurt when someone dares offer a real suggestion (don’t worry, I get over the sting fairly quickly and usually do implement feedback) – but this time, I climbed on top of the pressure weighing me down to force me to share before things were ready, and I don’t think I would have had such a great pitch if my sisters hadn’t been there to help me.

So…how did it go? I know you all are asking the question, wondering why I’m rambling so much about rocks and pressure, and climbing and totally irrelevant stuff.

First, the conference was great. After a gentle scolding from my brother telling me that I needed to let go of my stress or I wouldn’t even enjoy myself at the conference, letting 20 minutes of the week ruin the rest of it, I actually did relax enough to enjoy it! I went into conference-Jacinta mode, which means I actually chatted with people, exchanged business cards, pretended I wasn’t at all scared to tell them what my book was about when every single person asked, and pretended I loved visiting and talking – very well, I think. Everyone also loved that my emotional support husband was with me, and he was adopted by a few other women as well. I decided it was okay to share his emotional support for a week – I get it to myself the rest of the time. AND I met some of my favorite authors! Karen Witemeyer and Jody Hedlund – IN PERSON! I am sure I came off as less than intelligent because, of course, I couldn’t imagine they actually wanted to talk to ME, so I said almost nothing so they wouldn’t feel pressured to stick around. Oh. And didn’t even think to get a picture. Great move, Jacinta. Great move.

So, the first pitch went…okay. The agent was 70/30 on the book…not in my favor. She thought it could be an interesting concept, but thought it was overdone (which is interesting since literally everyone else I talked to, including Jody Hedlund, thought it was unique – Hello, who else does Scarlett O’Hara meets The Oregon Trail??), and was afraid it would be too depressing (Okay, that’s a fair point), so told me to finish editing it, send it to some beta readers, and then query her.

The second agent loved it. Well, okay. At least liked it. Told me my pitch was great, the hook was great, it was unique, and to send her a proposal. I know, it is tempting to get super excited over a proposal, but the truth is, there is still like a 90% chance she’ll say no – but that is still up from the 99.9% (or in my case, 100%) chance that stems from just a query letter! But I’m going to take that, trust that God has a home for it and if it isn’t here, then it is someplace better, and I’ve been updating my proposal off and on for the last week, trying to tweak it to make it as good as possible.

Oh, and the author who critiqued my first two chapters said she thought it was market ready! She had no comments whatsoever except that she thought I should make Elizabeth more likeable. Which is difficult…since she is supposed to be unlikeable…which I consider one of the unique aspects of my book…and people love Gone with the Wind even though everyone hates Scarlett…so…yeah. I tweaked a few things to try to at least garner enough curiosity about her to keep readers going.

But, with any luck, I’ll get that proposal sent out today, and I’m both nervous and over the moon at the same time! Wish me luck, send me prayers, and above all, pray I’ll trust God to put this book in the right hands at the right time to fulfill His purpose for it.

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