I’m fresh off the most inspiring, jammed packed, chock full of information, jump onboard or you’ll be trampled, make your knees shake writing and publishing conference at Harvard and my head is still sifting through the gold of all the things I need to do next! This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself stepping into a situation I was not prepared for. Terrified and unclear, they launched us into delivering a 70 second book pitch to a panel of brilliant award winning, no holds barred, creme de la creme of the industry agents, publishers, writers and editors from all over the country. Think Shark Tank for nerds.
I vacillated between “I can do this” to “what am I doing!??” about every 3 minutes throughout the day.
You see, I thought I signed up for this conference to just passively sit back and relax with pen in hand and take loads of notes, gathering bits of wisdom and advice from the back of the room that I would then take home and sit on or file away and possibly even forget about for the next 5 months. But, oh no my sweet dear infant writer…..this is HARVARD.
You’re going to get punched in the face with a wake up call that is packaged up as an ‘invitation’ to pitch right out of the gates.
Even if you came to the conference with no real idea what your book would be, no title, no subtitle, no bones, “that’s ok” Dr. Julie Silver said; conference organizer and unstoppable dynamo physician, author, professor, cancer survivor, mother and savvy business woman who reminded us all that “NO ONE has the time to write a book. None of us do. But we just get up everyday and do it. There is no zone” she said. “If you find it – tell me!”
Suddenly I could hear the words of my mother…..Go BIG or go HOME! What did I have to lose? I could feel the pain of regret if I had decided to pass up this opportunity. The shame of my future self at home thinking “why didn’t I just get up there and do it?” So a wash of “now or never” came over me and I mobilized.
After an evening of tears and dead ends (I’m an early bird and should know better than to try to do anything past 8:30pm at night), I got up at 5am the next morning and roughed out my idea which would soon be shredded and torn apart just 2 hours later in front of a room full of book pitch coaches who weren’t there to be your best friend, but there to give it to you straight up like a scotch on the rocks, no rocks. Go back, re-work it, change the title, you lost my attention, too long, do it again. Rinse, wash, repeat for the next 8 hours until finally I had something I felt might work.
The moment of truth and my name was called first. I adjusted the mic behind the podium, took a deep breath and heard Dr. Silver say “on your mark, get set, GO!”
Remember – the anticipatory anxiety is always greater than the actual event. It’s what we call the “law of physics” in the psychotherapy world. So everything you feel on the front end of fear will be far bigger and far greater than just getting up there and doing it. Once you’re in the act of whatever it was that terrified you – you’re actualizing. You’re harnessing all your power and you’re showing up. Even if you fall flat on your face or even if all the ugly, messy parts are exposed and revealed….you’re doing it and the act of doing it builds confidence, even if you trip.
I’m delighted to report I hit that pitch hard with all my might. I think I may have cracked the bat? And when the evaluations came back, I received an invitation to submit my book proposal to the founder and president of an agency named by Writer’s Digest magazine as one of the top 25 literary agencies. But this isn’t the end of the marathon here, it’s actually just the beginning. It’s time to really do the hard things and the time is right NOW!
On your mark, get set….GO!