It's been a crazy week and as I sat down to post tonight, I realized I forgot to hit "publish" on the following little gem. I think I wrote it the day before I left for the conference.
I'm going to look like an asshole.
Or rather, I'll probably look way cute. I did buy some pretty new clothes for the National Latino Writer's Conference. What I meant to say is this: I'm going to sound like an asshole.
This is my first writer's conference, and even though I'm brand-new at this I can already see the rapid-fire conversations as the 50 of us writer's get to know each other.
"Hi! What's your name?"
I can answer that.
Pauline Campos. Nice to meet you!
"Where are you from?"
Because I know how Latino's think, I'll cover all the bases here for brevity.
"My dad was from Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, I was born in Michigan, and I live in Arizona now."
"What are you writing?"
I can handle this one, but I'm getting nervous because I know what's coming next. So I take a deep breathe and try not to stutter.
"A memoir called Baby F(ph)at: Adventures in Motherhood, Weight Loss, and Trying to Stay Sane."
"Wow, what's it about?"
And this is where I fear I will lose it. I'll stutter. I'll trip up. I'll forget that I just finished my 64 page proposal and a) either won't be able to say anything at all or b) say so much that the interested smile disappears from Interested Writer or Friendly Agent and they make a nice excuse before moving away to find someone less uninteresting.
I'm great I think on paper. I wouldn't have gone into journalism or actually gotten hired by any papers or started a damn book if I didn't have at least the teensiest writer's ego. But that's on paper. And frankly, that isn't enough to bank on for a book deal these days. Because even if you land a deal with just the query and never opening your mouth, there are going to be plenty of times where you speaking about your book is going to be required.
So it's time to get the elevator pitch together.
The fantabulous Nathan Bransford has a blog post in which he discusses the one sentence, one paragraph, and two paragraph pitches. So let's fast forward through the previous conversation with the one sentence pitch as my response.
"Wow, what's it about?"
"Baby F(Ph)at is what happened the day I decided to begin my search for a smaller ass two years after becoming a mother."
But can I say "ass" in a verbal pitch? I'm thinking "no."
So let's try that again, shall we?
"Baby F(ph)at is what happened the day I decided to begin my search for my missing waistline two years after pushing the baby out."
Ok? Good. Moving on.
Now for the one paragraph pitch.
"Baby F(ph)at is what happened the day I decided to begin my search for my missing waistline two years after pushing the baby out. It's the Latina Erma Bombeck for pudgy modern women and follows my journey as I try to shake the baby weight I gained, in real time, taking the reader through the realizations about weight loss as they occur."
After typing it and saying it out loud a few times, I think I'm happier with the written version than the spoken. The last thing I want is to sound like I'm reading when giving the verbal pitch. Then again, social situations call for improvisation to steer the tone of the pitch, so this is a good stepping stone to work from.
Next is the two paragraph pitch.
Baby F(ph)at is what happened the day I decided to begin my search for my missing waistline two years after pushing the baby out. It's the Latina Erma Bombeck for pudgy modern women and follows my journey as I try to shake the baby weight I gained, in real time, taking the reader through the realizations about weight loss as they occur.
I talk about medical issues that make it easy to gain and hard to lose. I use the "F" word and still consider myself a good mom. And even though the scale didn't exactly cooperate, moms will relate to the idea that living a healthier life is more important than the size of your jeans. Staying sane while trying to do it is the icing on the fat-free cake.
I especially like my last line in this one.
And thanks to this little and very necessary exercise, I feel slightly less nauseated about pitching my book for the first time to total strangers who are under no obligation to pretend they like what I have to say just to amuse me.
So I'm just going to use that time on the plane to New Mexico to memorize my pitches and pray to God I keep my wits about me when the curtain rises. Which reminds me...who wants to tag along and hold my cue cards so don't fall on my face?
I did not fall on my face.
Epilogue, part deux
In fact, I kicked ass and rocked it. #thankyouverymuch