Writers’ Conference and Confidence

Writers’ Conference and Confidence

      This past weekend I went to the “Wrangling with Writing” conference in Tucson sponsored by the Society of Southwestern Authors. I finished my novel and hoped to get an agent or editor interested in it. The way it works at this conference, you pay twenty dollars for a fifteen minute interview with an agent and/or editor you choose from those who are looking for clients and manuscripts. I signed up to see three agents and an editor after checking out their bios and googling them.

     We were told to practice a two sentence introduction to our books, bring a one page synopsis, and the first three chapters. I also brought a few copies of my completed manuscript, knowing that no one would want to lug all that paper home, but not willing to miss an opportunity.

     The first workshop I went to was “Mastering the In-person Pitch.” I figured I could use all the help I could get. The presenter, Chuck Sambuchino, was fantastic! I figured out how to improve my pitch. He told us not to give the agent anything. All contact would be by email afterwards. The best that would happen is the agent or editor would give us their card with instructions on what to send. He was right!

     I met with the first agent and made a big faux pas. I started with the sentence, “I’ve finished an 80,000 word contemporary women’s fiction novel.” The agent pointed out that I had committed one of her pet peeves, that it’s redundant to say “fiction novel.” I explained to her that I was just nervous and of course I know it was redundant as I was a retired librarian. After this stumble, the rest of the interview went well. She wanted to see the manuscript but she was an “exclusive” agent. This meant I could only submit to her. I told her I had three other appointments and couldn’t make that commitment. But I was ecstatic that she wanted to see my work. All of my writing buddies experienced success.

     Imagine my shock when I returned to the room that afternoon, after getting two more requests for my manuscript, and found one of my writing buddies in her nightgown under the covers. She was having a crisis of confidence. I know this feeling well, when the inner child says you aren’t good enough, what makes you think you write well enough to be published, etc. I haven’t seen this in another woman since my dorm days of college. It made me feel less alone. We helped boost her spirits and in just a little while she was back to feeling like the confident, competent person I know.

     So how many of you out there get these feelings? And how do you conquer them? I didn’t have a hypercritical parent or husband but I do remember these feelings of inadequacy from junior high on. When you live alone, you have to be your own cheerleader.


One Response to “Writers’ Conference and Confidence”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Oh, yeah! That inner critic can be so devastating. What patterns are we still carrying from our pasts that we let negativity gain such a toehold still today? Friends, like you, help me to see the big picture and to regain confidence.

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