12 October 2014

Pitching is For Baseball

They say (some poets) that April is the cruelest month. For me it has long been October. Some would guess, knowing I work retail, that I would feel that way about December. The truth is, I love the chaos of those holiday days, where everything is fast paced, where there's nothing left to do but ride the wave all the way back to the sandy shore.

October is a different beast all together. It's all the work with very few of the rewards.

It's a necessary evil with pretty colors on the trees and crunchy leaves under feet.

Historically, October is not a good month for writing. I let it go for extra hours at work and for some extra hours at home, knowing that NaNoWriMo claims so much of my free time come November.

But this year I decided to do something different. Probably because I'm insane.

I'm taking two classes.

The first is through the University of Iowa, which has one of the best reputed MFA Writing Programs in the country. The class is called How Writers Write Fiction. There are weekly video classes and weekly assignments and lots of message boards to engage in. I'm liking it, but I'm not loving it.

The second is called Crafting the Kidlit Novel and it's definitely geared more to the market I'm writing for. This class has truly challenged me, which probably means it's good for me.

The bulk of what I've worked on during the first week has been pitches. And I absolutely suck at it. I even suck at doing pitches for books I've read. I am absolutely terrible about describing books in a sentence or two. I'm awful. It's a skill I currently don't have and one I clearly need to work on.

Working on a dozen different pitches for my work in progress (WIP) really got me thinking about conversations I have with customers about books. I recommend books a lot. Not quite every day, but definitely most days. Usually I get them to tell me about a book or author they loved, and then I can find a book they might like and simply put it in their hand. If they ask me what it's about, I'll ramble on for a minute or two, trying to stumble on the words that connected what they were looking for with what I gave them. But even that isn't easy for me.

After several lousy attempts at my own, I don't feel any closer to getting a good pitch for my WIP than I was three days ago.

But I'm also not ready to give up. I feel like this is a necessary struggle.