I moved to NYC to brush off dreams deferred – becoming an author and starting an educational foundation for first generation college students, especially minorities.
Lofty goals, but all I know is dreaming big. Fortunately, above all rhyme and reason, I have seen many dreams come true when reality dictated not so. My dad always said, “you don’t want to come to the end of your life and wonder what would have happened if only.” When I moved to NYC in May 2011, that’s what I told family and friends. I’d rather die trying and chasing my dream, then to have never tried at all.
However, I am a realist and cynic. I used to be a performance management auditor, so as much as I dream, I plan. No, I mean I plan. I’m as much a planner as I am a burgeoning germa-phobe. There is plan A, then B, plus a C and D in case. My dreams are grounded in reality, but with the hope of crushing reality.
I put my dream to the test when I attended a Pitch Slam. It’s like speed dating with literary agents. You get 90 seconds to pitch your book and they have 90 seconds to critique. Now you all have figured out that I hate the process of dating. I find speed dating the worst nuisance invented. I was not thrilled at this process because how much can an agent know you and your work in 90 seconds? You don’t meet your mate at speed dating events. You meet a one night stand, hit it and quit it, or a Mr. Right Now. Was that sharing too much? Too late.
When I started to re-open my journals in 2004, I knew the odds of getting an agent and published were virtually non-existent. The lawyer in me researched. Everyone asked me, “why not self publish?” For the same reason no self respecting attorney advertises on buses and billboards. I want to be taken seriously as a writer. Plus, self published reminds me of when you go to a wedding and you know they were on a limited budget. The bridesmaid dresses look like a home economics project gone wrong. You just end up feeling bad for the couple because inside you’re thinking, if the wedding is any indication of their future together, give me my present back. I don’t want my first published work to be looked upon as a handout gone wrong. I want people to feel that I’ve written something worth reading. I want it to speak to all, regardless of race, sex, religion. Like my blog, I want a rainbow coalition of readers that think “I may not have experienced what’s she’s been through, but I can identify” or it moves you to act or respond in your community. I want you to laugh, smile, cry, and be inspired. If I do all in one blog or book, Eureka! Then I can dance like Colonel Pickering and Professor Higgins to “YOU DID IT!”
At the pitch slam I attended a couple of workshops, about building an audience and trends in publishing. They re-affirmed my previous research. I need to have a social presence, hence the blog. I value/love privacy so doing the blog and website was a huge step outside my comfort zone. I resisted putting a picture of myself until this month because I did not want people to judge my writing by saying “oh it’s a minority or a woman.” No, I want you to be enraptured by me and doubled over laughing like Carol Burnett’s rendition of “Gone with the Wind.”
After two workshops, the Pitch Slam began. I surveyed the agents. Some just had that look like “I had to be the one selected by the agency to be here.” Others were gallant in keeping straight faces as people pitched some stuff that I don’t think SyFy would show. I received no offers of “let me be your agent.” One said, “send me your query.” Isn’t that like when a guy says “I’ll call you.” Not hopeful. The other did give some helpful comments about how to re-market my book.
I was discouraged and disappointed. I heard some people talk about aliens and universes that were hidden from us to keep us out of space. No, this wasn’t their pitch, this is what they were talking about during the lunch break. OMG. Do people think I’m one of these crazy people? It was a somber night. If I was a drinker, me and Jack Daniels would have become intimately acquainted. Isn’t that how most people end speed dates anyway?
Ready to give up? Hush your mouth! As my dad said, “No never hurt anybody. Keep trying.” Give up? I am Leonidis from Sparta. I bow down to no man. It just fueled me to make revisions and look for a loophole. I am nothing if tenacious and aggressive. Resistance is futile. Rejection is only making me hungry. There’s nothing worse than a hungry lion in the concrete jungle. Stay tuned.