I survived the 2010 Writers League of Texas Agents Conference! No small feat, folks. Pitching to agents is stressful and at times humiliating. I consider myself blessed to have had a built-in happy moment with the award in the Manuscript Contest. Otherwise, the weekend would have been much more painful for me. Which is not to say it didn’t go well. It did — it went great — I am optimistic in my own way — I just apparently have the emotional fragility of Mariah Carey. Well, maybe not quite that bad.
The picture above I jokingly call my homage to Larsen Pomada Literary Agency, because all the documents in it originate with two agents in this group: Elizabeth Pomada and Laurie McLean. Laurie was the judge of the WLT Manuscript contest, and in the top left is her critique and scoring of Leaving Annalise. * By the way, the critique is worth the cost of entering the contest, fellow writers. * The bottom document is my winner’s certificate. The right hand document is a note from Elizabeth Pomada about Leaving Annalise. Not pictured is the full manuscript request from Elizabeth, but it is also in the gallery. The gallery was born when Eric suggested I frame every nice word I receive about my writing while on this find-an-agent journey, because the writer’s path is filled with more than enough criticism and rejection. Celebrate the positive! (The sticky note with the duck is from Eric, and his nice words are a given.)
I met a slew of writers that I immediately bonded with, and I heard about many books I would love to read someday when they are published. And no one pitched their vampire book to me, hallelujah!
The writers that attend this type of conference are at similar stages on their writing journeys, so we understand each other in ways even our loved ones can’t. My friend Kathleen GETS IT that I ended the weekend wracked with doubt and questioning whether I have what it takes…whether I even deserve the privilege of writing another word… even after all the praise and congratulations I got for winning the contest. My husband, on the other hand, thinks I have lost my mind. I can’t explain it to him or anyone else. It just is what it is. And the new friends I met GET IT. *Ironically, the first thing I did after having this “I’m not worthy to be a writer moment was sit down and write about it. Sigh…it’s a disease.*
Final verdict on the conference: well-organized, high caliber agents, great attendance, excellent content in sessions and nice facilities. Some of the agents were wonderful. Some hid from the authors, skipped events and in general did their best not to speak to any of us outside of teaching their few sessions. The conference ended on a sour note when the 1.5 hour “one minute pitch round tables” were changed to 0.5 hours of same, with no official explanation. Let’s just say hat’s off to the agents that were in that room listening to the one-minute pitches and giving their constructive feedback until the bitter end. I APPRECIATE YOU. WE ALL APPRECIATED YOU. As one awesome agent said to me, and I considered her the rock star agent of the conference (if you were at the conference, you’ll probably guess who I am referring to), “You guys paid for my plane ticket; I’m going to give you all I’ve got.”
Other issues: The mystery of the taco-less “Breakfast Taco Tweet-up” — show me the tacos!!! The exhibit hall was lean — actually the smaller DFW Writers Conference in April of this year had a much more robust exhibitor presence.
But, if I don’t have an agent by this time next year, I would go back. And if I do have an agent and was given the opportunity to assist, I would do it. It’s a valuable learning and writer-networking experience, and, to a slightly lesser extent, agent-pitching experience.
An Amarillo-ties perspective on the contest: The Manuscript contest was open to writers from anywhere, whether they attended the event or not. So, imagine my surprise not only to win my category, but also to find another graduate of the Amarillo Independent School District amongst the winners — and one that graduated only one year before me, and from my rival high school: Marcy Mason McKay. And we knew each other “back then.” Go AISD English programs! Actually, my senior high school AP English class was the last writing class I ever took; I placed out of college English. Thanks Mr. Biggers and Ms. McFarland! Now, I have written professionally my entire career, so please don’t worry that I have not had sufficient experience to be read-worthy. “Trust me, I’m a professional” — hmmm, sounds kind of smarmy.
Well, in re-reading this I see that I am in danger of putting my own self to sleep, yikes. I’ll be back to my irreverent self by Wednesday; we all need something snarky after the seriousness of last week’s Confessions of a Guilt-Stricken Mom, and the conference/contest blogs. Thanks for hanging with me. Y’all rock.