I’ve been wallowing in the shitfest, still. But in the midst of it all I realised a few things today. I’ve sent 23 pitch emails in just 13 days this month. Pitch emails are not to be confused with pitches, which is usually unique to every different idea. These 23 pitch emails are for about 5 unique ideas. 23 pitch emails just means I went knocking on 23 different doors trying to sell them an idea. Even if I never do anything life-changing with my writing, at least I’d have gotten a nice thorough lesson in perseverance. Also sheer obstinacy.
It is tiring, though, being this determined in a month where the entire Western hemisphere is so focused on the election they’re not interested in minuscule stories from the East. They’ve got a month full of long weekends and national holidays which makes their mailboxes pile up, shoving our pitch emails deep into the slush pile. Every night before I shut down, I run through the emails I’ve sent on that particular day and I go to sleep preoccupied and anticipating responses that actually never come. It’s exhausting.
Today I moped to two people about how I’ve worked myself to a crisp, and I don’t really have much to show for it except two ayes, one maybe, one displaced story that found a new home after so much looking (explained later), and plenty of nays. However, they come with such encouraging comments on the ideas, and earnest explanations about why great as some of the ideas sound, they don’t work for them, along with a genuine request to “please keep pitching!” which makes it hard to really sulk. And yet, I was sulking today. Because even the three stories I have placed are not the three stories I’d mentally tagged under knock this out of the frigging park, this month. I was sulking, when A reminded me: it’s not just three stories. It’s THREE STORIES. And we’ll take these small victories. Because they count. Three stories in the bag, is better than none. And it’s better than one big story thats been “in the pipeline” for almost two months now. The stress of waiting to see it in print, is worse than waiting for a period you’re so afraid and simultaneously sure you’ll miss. Graphic analogy? Well yes, that’s how horrible it feels.
So, I landed on smallish story, but it’s a publication I’ve had on my wish-list for SO long. Just earlier this month, I posted a story they recently published, on facebook, with a caption about aspiring to have a story on their site soon. And here I am. It’s small, but it’s something. I just didn’t think it would happen so soon.
I had one brutal experience of a story I worked quite hard to turn around in record time, being pulled an hour before it went to print, with no explanations given. Even after I asked. What gives, man? Why do people hate talking about things when things go wrong? I can deal with it, you know? I can try and be adult about it. Anyway, being dropped like a hot potato got me so fired up, I swore I wasn’t going to rest until I placed this story. So I carpet bombed my little universe with the idea and got such an array of responses, mostly negative, it was overwhelming. I had just reached a point where I was accepting that maybe I need to rework the pitch, and consequently the story too, when it got picked. By a publication I’ve never worked with, and have wanted to break into, in the past.
Some time last year I’d pitched an idea which was immediately accepted. I rushed off to do my research and interview a lot of people as the story needed it. But as I wrote the story, it evolved and took a form entirely different from the one I’d pitched. The story was published in it’s new form, but I was suddenly sitting with a bunch of data that had taken some effort collating. This month, I revisited the data and fleshed out a fresh idea. I pitched it. And landed it, and it’s a story I’m excited about.
Also, as of yesterday, I’m in The Telegraph. So I’m feeling a little silver-linings-ish now, in retrospect, after moping about all week.
Through all of this, my virtual circle of writers has kept me afloat. I find it downright amazing that the words of literal strangers, going through the exact same things I am, have the power to connect so deeply. So we do, and we prop each other up, handing out virtual high fives, hugs and the like. Time and again I feel social media fatigue, which makes me wonder if I should just take a break from it for a bit. But I quickly realise, these days I have more love, encouragement and learning, than noise on facebook. It’s where I find solace in advice that sometimes isn’t even aimed at me. It’s where I find solutions to problems — from the most mundane like getting over a patch of procrastination to finding an elusive editors email. It’s where I find inspiration in someone’s immense success story. It’s where I have found new role models. It’s where I go to see that there are so many hundreds and thousands of women like me, going through a shitfest of a month, no different form mine. We are in this together. My problems are not mine alone. Some times the victories are small, but we’ll take them. Because they count.
The great thing about being in a virtual community is also the kind of writing I get to expose myself to. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve LOVED this week.
This essay about What We Write About When We’re Not Writing gave me such a real reaction. I was moved to the point of instant goosebumps.
This piece called Grab Her, hit me up right in the feels.
This essay about domestic violence that somehow led to a rediscovery in the kitchen.