It took me a few days to sit down to write my reaction post to the end because, well, I dove right into work once it was over.
I feel great. Obviously, not as amazing as if I had a mentor, but not crushed. Not even hurt. I read the adult section of the list, felt a little disappointed (but not that stomach-dropping, skin-chilling devastation that I’ve had when getting rejections before), then read it again, more carefully, to see if any of my new friends had gotten picked.
That was it.
I saw someone I’d connected with as a possible CP Tweet about getting down to work, and I jumped right on that. We swapped emails within hours of the decision going out, and I had something to critique that same day from another CP. I contacted everyone I’d talked about CPing with to touch base, and I set myself daily goals: critique at least one chapter (if I have one in my inbox that day), write new WIP or edit PW MS for at least one hour, and study Japanese vocabulary. I know, one of these things is not like the others, but it still matters.
So, I’ve been busy since the announcement came out! One mentor who requested my MS sent me some encouraging feedback, and I’m waiting on some more from others kind enough to send to those they didn’t request from. I also won a free query critique from SWS, and promptly stopped retweeting their offers, so as not to hog them.
I’d go into what I learned from PitchWars, but it’d be a boring list of too many things to bother people with reading. Craft tricks were the least of them. The most surprising thing I realized, though, is that not writing in isolation is more inspiring.
Mostly because I didn’t have success forming a writing community before PitchWars, I’ve always written mostly in a vacuum. The exceptions being when I wrote in other fandoms–then I’d be surrounded by others writing HP fanfiction, or others roleplaying in Pern. But never for my own, original work. Now, I get to show people my work who will actually talk to me about it. Not sputter nervously about how they liked it, or shrug that they don’t know what more to say other than that it was good, but really talk to me. “This line was great.” “What are you getting at here?” “This scene is going nowhere.”
More than that, I’m reading their work. Talking to them about it. I’m reading more than I have in years. I’ll be honest–it’s hard for a book to draw me in if I pick them randomly off the shelf. I prefer going off recommendations. Friends whose artistic taste I trust liked this, so let’s give it a shot. Lately, I’d been trying to reread some of my favorites and getting … bored. I needed something new, but didn’t really know that was the problem. Now, I’m reading mentor books, I’m reading books represented by agents I’m researching, I’m reading the work of my peers to edit it. And the writing and editing my own work is coming easier.
In a nutshell, I’d say PitchWars changed my writing life. Not just that, but got me to sit down and reevaluate where my life is as a whole. I won’t go into details here, but I’d been floundering a bit with work. I realized while thinking about how happy and driven I was during the contest that I needed to refocus my priorities from where they’d been. I might end up actually moving back to the States when this year’s contract is up, or I might recontract for a fourth year, but I don’t know yet, and that’s okay. I have half a year to decide. Half a year full of writing and editing and critiquing and querying and possibly contests. Who knows where I’ll be by January.
I intended to write this as a reflection post that maybe other people could relate to, but it ended up being more about my specific situation. I’m not sure how many people shared my reaction, anyway. I don’t blame anyone for being anywhere on the spectrum from disappointed to crushed. Hell, I fully expected to be there, too. I expected to cry ugly tears at school and be stuck in the bathroom until I could figure out how the hell to pretend to be normal again. I expected to be okay after a few days of hiding in Supernatural and ruining popcorn because I sat down and forgot it was in the microwave for an hour. The last thing I expected my reaction to be was, “Oh well. Hey, who else is on here?”
I’m thrilled that it was, though. That bodes really well for future rejections from agents. My first submission of a novel to anyone, I didn’t make it in, and I was completely fine with it. The only thing better I could’ve asked for was for all the stars to line up and to get everything I wanted on the first try. Can’t blame a girl for hoping.
Nothing is settled yet with CPs. Feedback from a few mentors still in the wings. The aftermath of PitchWars hasn’t settled yet, but I feel good. I hope everyone else settles down into a good place, too, no matter how bad the fall from the announcement was. Do what you gotta do, and hope to see you with the other PW Determined Writers soon.