After a fantastic weekend at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Conference, I came away with a new (and better) perspective regarding a task most writers detest: Pitching their story to an editor or agent.
Don't get me wrong--I still don't like it.
Pitching is an exercise in selfishness that usually goes something like this: "Hello. I'm going to tell you about my book and how great it is, and why I'm exactly the right person to write this story."
This weekend I seriously thought: Let me get this straight. I'm seated across the table from a fascinating, connected, knowledgeable insider--a REAL New York literary agent--and we're supposed to talk about me?
So I came up with an analogy (sadly, not one about baseball) to help me understand.
In my veterinary practice I often performed surgery on my patients. Early on, I learned that the most technically perfect surgery--the sexy part, where scalpel parts delicate skin and neat sutures magically bind it back--can be undone by poor preparation.
But maybe a great pitch can be likened to a sterile surgical prep--where one carefully scours each finger to redness at the scrub sink, dons sterile gown, mask and gloves, and finally drapes the patient to avoid a contaminated field. Having the right instruments--in this case a strong logline and clear distillation of theme--is equally critical to the patient's survival.
Not to overdo the comparison (too late, maybe?) but I would never have considered performing surgery without a thorough, meticulous prep. Scrubbing wasn't my favorite part, but I took great care because I wanted the patient to survive--and thrive.
When it came to prep I didn't whine or procrastinate. I just went to work.
So the next time I'm seated across the table from a literary agent, I'll consider my patient (my story) and give my best pitch.
Here's hoping the patient thrives!