Conference Chat | Brave New World

This post has been percolating for the last few days. As the writing high from WDCE wears off, I’m left with lasting impressions of the following:

Pitch Slam is easily the most nerve-wracking writing experience. I went to WDCW and had a moderately successful experience, but ultimately it taught me that my manuscript just wasn’t ready for submission. Much like a crush, I’ve been oscillating between intense scrutiny and complete disregard for my manuscript since. For those unfamiliar with the event, Pitch Slam is speed-dating for writers and agents: one ninety minute session, three minutes per agent (ninety seconds to pitch and ninety seconds to converse), approximately fifty agents. Pick and choose and dive right in. After a very helpful session on Friday night, I had a couple of areas to tweak. I’ve written out my pitch, and thanks to my residual debate skills I can memorize talking points and key phrases but not sound like a robot (and I still want to connect with the woman who said she would pitch in a robot voice – seriously, someone find her!). Saturday’s session was really successful for me. I pitched to eight agents and got requests from six, a referral from one, and a soft reject from another.

Can someone say “pics or it didn’t happen?” The agent who “rejected” me (she gave my pitch props but felt she wouldn’t be the best to adequately rep my manuscript) did so while there was a photographer “capturing the magic.” It was all awkward but funny, and she and I had this great moment where we both saw the guy out of the corner of our eyes and kind of exchanged a “This is happening; just go with it and keep your shit together” look. And really, if I’m going to get rejected I do want it partially captured on film, especially if that rejection involves an agent telling me that I should have plenty of success with my pitch with others. So can someone tell me where those photos are? I seriously have to see that, and so far my persistent stalking of the website has yet to produce results.

Support young writers! Seriously, I was impressed with the number of young folks I encountered. Now, I think technically I could be categorized as a young writer, so I should clarify that I’m talking about folks who can’t buy their own drinks legally. Kudos to you artistic, creative, bold young whippersnappers. I feel old but proud. And word to the wise, you can totally pick up some life experience (if you feel you need it) and get back into writing.

Chuck Wendig is the Joss Whedon of WDCE. Discuss.

I’m struggling with how to best phrase this, but here goes: mental health got a necessary mention in WDCE. It was appropriate and relevant to note that writer’s block can sometimes be depression, and that tips for fighting writer’s block won’t work in those scenarios. I think too easily we categorize the oddness of creative types as quirks; vocalizing mental health brings it back to the forefront.

I am socially awkward, and that at times borders on anxiety and I don’t want to get too detailed…so all I will say is this: I learned that I can, in fact, network and be genuine doing it because the people with whom I’m networking are people I’m genuinely interested in getting to know. I initiated conversation with others in a completely foreign environment in which I knew no one, and I did not have a panic attack or nervous breakdown.

Not conference-related per se, but did you guys know NYC is totally freaking awesome? You can buy a cheese danish on the street! The library is gorgeous and sneaks up on you if you’re directionally challenged! You don’t have to pay for psychics! Screw the manuscript, I should write travelogues.

In RDJ-style humility: I am Iron Man well, I guess I’m doing something right. This was my first conference where I didn’t have an earth-shattering, life-altering, manuscript-overhauling aha! moment. A lot of the writing process sessions reaffirmed things I’m already doing or gave me new strategies to try. I feel like my manuscript is in that “final coat” stage of the car wash.

Because it bears repeating: we’re weird.

Because it’s hilarious and everyone should know this: we dress against type:

There’s no way that guy is writing hard sci-fi. His neckbeard is like six degrees of grime shy.

And that woman is pitching a memoir? About what? The trying and toilsome journey of waiting for her pink-painted rhinestone-studded fingernails to dry this afternoon?PHAW!

How ‘bout that gal with the tattoos, ripped jeans, and undeniable air of brooding self importance. Can’t wait to find out in what city her urban fantasy is set! What’s that you say? She writes literary fiction? No shit…

I call myself Fox Shirt & Blazer because I am wholly unoriginal at naming and get all of my character names from like, Those who know me are surprised by my genre, which I’ve mentioned once here on the blog (if you were paying attention).

4 thoughts on “Conference Chat | Brave New World

  1. Julia Byers says:

    Congratulations on your requests!! That’s hilarious about the photographer (one of ’em caught me mid-yawn while waiting in a pitch line at one point–I’m sure THAT turned out lovely). As far as I know, they only post a few of the pictures they take each year, unfortunately. But if you manage to find the treasure trove of WDCE photography, let me know!


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