I am at Wheaton College, attending the non-Wheaton-sponsored Write-to-Publish conference. My brain, as the famous yet nameless Far Side character put it, is full, and so I am skipping a workshop. Don't worry. I'll catch the last one.
Being around this many writers at once is kind of weird. Also, does anyone have any idea how funny it is to tell a bunch of introverts to network? I mean, in person? We are all trying very hard to obey this injunction, but it looks kind of comical.
My favourite (by which I might mean "most comfortable") moments of the conference were when I actually met, face to face, people with whom I've already networked here. At this blog. I had lunch with and threw way too many ideas at ZimmerMan--and he still generously gave me a copy of his book. (Buy it. Apart from good writing, it has this cool flip-book comic book character taking off in the right margin. You'll know what I mean once you purchase it.) I also got to see Stacey and Craver (whose name [gasp!] is not really Craver!) in their natural habitat. I peeked in at Al's office. And I got to see Lisa's desk.
The best unpremeditated networking experience, though, went like this. I had an appointment to pitch a novel I'm trying to write, to a publishing house where I know no one. Except that once I did sort of know one of their authors. She is a missionary with the same organisation I used to work through.
I wasn't, by the time my appointment came up, too convinced that I still wanted to pitch this novel, let alone write it. The day before had been rather demoralising (for reasons I may divulge some other time). I felt I had nothing to say. I almost cancelled the appointment. But lunch with ZimmerMan helped (I think I've figured out one of his superpowers), and so I told myself to buck up and go talk to this other editor, just to get some experience. How many times do you get to walk up to an editor and have them listen to your ideas?
"Hi," I said, shaking this editor's hand. "My name is Jenn, and I used to work for the same missions organisation that [this author you already publish] works for."
"Really?" said the editor. "So did I."
At the end of my pitch (during which I confessed the need to go back to the drawing board with this story and do a lot of research), the editor said, "Well, when you've done the work and got it written, write up a proposal and send it to me with the first three chapters, and we'll see what we think."
What? My pitch actually worked? I mean--it worked! Let me clarify, just in case, that a request for a proposal is not a contract. But it is the goal of pitching a book. I guess I'm going to have to do some work now . . .