Surrey Writer’s Con 11am (or how to be a complete mess)

Joe’s Post #58

So, at 3 am I was up. And awake. Wide awake. With pitches and schedules and plans dancing in my head. So, I got up. I mean, why not? I still had ironing to do. I could watch some TV. Whatever. Anything would be better than lying in bed debating if I should use the word teenager or young adult.

So, I shaved. Cut face about a dozen times. Note to self, do not shave when you’re shaking with nerves. Showered. Tried to stem bleeding on face. Emptied bladder. Reworked pitch for the 1000th time. Looked at self in mirror, thought, man, I look pale. Vampire pale. I guess blood loss with do that.

Left at 7. Foolishly thought I could get there without a GPS. I think I ended up in Seattle. However, at least I left with plenty of time and with the help of my Australian navigator, I arrived at the hotel at a few minutes before 8.

I was early, but better early than late. I scoped out the layout, figured out where I had to go to get more agent interviews and where they hid the coffee tanks. Even had time for breakfast and a quick chat with a fellow writer who had come to Surrey. OMG I can’t tell you how much that chat helped. It got me talking and that allowed the stress to lessen.

Then, with a little green pass around my neck, a horrible backpack over my shoulder, and my organizing binder in my sweaty little hands, I went to sit and listen to the opening speech and wait for 9 am, when I planned to storm the agent/editor signup table.

Sitting there, I chatted with one writer, chatted with my friend, and talked to the lady next to me. I told her about my story, about 6 am hockey practices, about being an introvert and trying to pitch a story. I mean, hey, we use words for a living and yet, when we speak to an agent, it’s all “me book, hi, errr, angels, story, uhm, words.”

Turns out she was an agent. Ha. I should have looked at her name pass thingee. She said the book sounded good, gave me her card and told me she had to drive 3 hours for 6 am hockey games. In the snow. In Ontario.

Ha! First pitch but the seat of my ass. It was ugly. I was unscripted. But somehow I got my idea across.

Meanwhile, my writing friend read my first pages and did as all good friends will do and lied to me, telling me it was awesome. Or maybe it was. Either way, I was fine with the praise. As I listened to the speaker, I ran the pitch over and over in my head. I’m sure there is a groove in my brain now with lots of lots of detours and signs that say, no, don’t say, that, make eye contact, don’t forget to breathe, don’t wet yourself or pass out.

Then it was 9. I bolted out of the large meeting room and made my way into the lineup. Met some amazing people as I transformed into chatty-Joe, that most rare of Joe-incarnations. By the time we got the the table, Jody, Erin and I had laughed so much that all the nerves were gone. We’d come up with a book about all the things not to do in pitches (or things they tried to convince me to do, like hug an agent, or tell them that they may not understand the metaphors you’re going to use, or whack them with your manuscript to get their attention).

I felt relaxed. I felt confident, especially after they lied to me and said my pitch was awesome. Or maybe it was. Either way, I was fine with the praise.

oh mandyAt the table, I was able to get an appointment with one of the agents I really, really wanted to see. Mandy Hubbard. But!!!!!

But … the opening was in 2 minutes!

Bang, the shakes, the nerves, every thing returned with a vengeance.  2 minutes!!! OMFG could I be ready in 2 minutes? Was I ready at all?

I don’t know if it’s possible to sweat your body weight in 2 minutes, but I think I did. A shiny pool at my feet.

Then I was called.

And I marched up, shook her hand, smiled my goofy-Joe smile and sat down.

More to come…

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About Joe Cummings

Aquarius. Traveler. Gamer. Writer. A New Parent. 4 of these things are easy. One is not. But the journey is that much better for the new people in my life. A life I want to share with others, to help them, maybe, to make them feel less alone, sure, to connect with the greater world, absolutely.

6 thoughts on “Surrey Writer’s Con 11am (or how to be a complete mess)

  1. If any agent out there doubts your ability to tell a gripping story, Joe, I hope they’re reading this. Can’t wait for the next instalment of The Perils of JustJoe!

  2. As I said in a comment earlier, a little differently: any agent who rejects you on the basis of your pitch will live to regret it. I am sure you’ll do brilliantly, even sweaty and with razor-cut face!

  3. Joe, I’ve never read your book but your posts are hilarious. Why not write a fictional travelog with the ups and downs of flights, baggage, language etc. You would be dynamite.
    You’re a very funny guy.

    Jude Wiesner

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