So, we find ourselves together again on this Wednesday, and what's been on my brain is donuts.
Well, sort of. This week has been something else, and donuts have been a blissful distraction from life, work, and yes, evening writing. Today's story began last week. On April 19th, Beth Phelan of the Bent Agency, hosted #DVpit, a twitter contest for diverse authors and stories. Participants wrote 140 character tweets with the hashtag pitching their books.
Twitter pitch contests are several things. First, they are utterly shameless. Second, they are a little ridiculous. It's like doing elevator pitches on steroids and the elevator is packed with two hundred thousand people when the elevator is really only meant to hold twenty people, and everyone is shouting and banging the buttons, and you are like, "But wait, I have a hashtag! Comp titles! Dear God, think of the comp titles!"
In classic me style, I stumbled on this twitter contest. I was working remotely in a coffee shop, and I had checked my money-making work boxes earlier in the morning, so I was going to take two hours to work on my agent hunting spreadsheet. But like any self-respecting writer, I opened twitter before I actually began work. Then I saw the hashtag.
I think I literally shrugged and then, with a cyncism born of many twitter elevator rides, I started banging out pitches. If I've learned anything about these contests, it's that you gain nothing by being modest. You gain nothing by only having one clever tweet. Also, if you're on the West Coast, you're at a considerable disadvantage because by the time you get going, the East Coast has already had a three hour head start, and the agents are mostly on the East Coast. So, the favorites of the contest were already decided, by heart votes from agents, by the time I put my hands on my keyboard.
And then, I cried on the inside beside one of the winners was a fox demon story. It was based in Korea and a contemporary fantasy romance, but still. So, I knew I would have to type many many question pitches over the course of the day in order to even have a chance of catching up.
That was my first pitch of the day. I think most of them were serviceable. Some were not.
And then another...
Then, I actually liked this one.
And I hit a stride of sorts.
Then, I wrapped up for the night.
Okay, last FOX DEMON tweet for the night, everyone. Thank you for your patience...— E.R. Warren (@TheRoseWarren) April 19, 2016
Honestly, it was readers and editors who noticed my pitches before the agents did, which I found a little funny. When I wrapped up, only two agents had responded to my pitches, as well as an editor. I was so happy and grateful that I sent off my materials as soon as I could and then I read through the agents participating in the contest and looked at what they had enjoyed. It was possible they had missed my tweets in the elevator tweetstorm, so I added them to my list and sent my query and pages to them as well.
Then, I slept. And I woke up. And agents, it seems, are night owls and maybe New York never sleeps, but I woke up with requests and hearts, and I answered everything. Then I had to go to work at the office, and I spent the rest of the day and the days after that trying to ignore everything that had happened, which brings us to donuts.
While I was at Bookfest a few weeks ago, Samantha Chaffin and I talked about how life had the habit of overcoming writing.
Juggling jobs, re-balancing relationships, and writing at a pace that builds your skills as a writer, is not easy.
And so decided to have a Nothing Day, which we would schedule, and then not fill up with errands or meetings or parties. We would just meet and sit. That was the bar we set.
On Sunday we met for our Nothing Day at Kettle Glazed Donuts in Hollywood, a tiny little donut shop that's been on L.A. top ten donut lists. We sat. We ate donuts and drank tea and coffee and ruminated on life and writing. Customers came in and out, choosing donuts from the gleaming glass cases to be packed in white boxes. I had a blueberry lemon cake donut, then a raspberry donut with powdered sugar. The fluffy, pillow-like donuts dissolved in the mouth, and I washed mine down with tea.
Then we wandered through Hollywood and ended up in a decidedly strange place.
I had seen the Bourgeouis Pig on my way to the donuts, and I thought we should go because of the name? The coffee shop looked like a tiny rundown nightclub filled with used glam furniture. My latte was nice.
Then, out of all the sitting and drinking we could have done, we opened our laptops and we got to work. I laughed about my queries and the agent-hunting process, and Samantha worked on laborious revisions of her latest manuscript. We may or may not have compared spreadsheets. We could have not not worked, but I think when you have the opportunity to work alongside others that know how hard it all is, instead of writing alone, the work seems more like fun than work. Writing and the business that comes with it frequently seems a lonely business. But donuts always help.