I thought writing a book was tough. Well, it is, but nowhere near as difficult as writing the pitch package. I like to pretend I’m an interesting person with the ability to communicate very well with others via the written word, but if that’s the case, why can’t I figure out how to compose an engaging query letter than will make an agent less inclined to chuck the entire packet in the trash after the first six words? And why, oh why, can’t I manage to summarize my book in a way that takes up less space than the original manuscript?
It must all hearken back to grade school when we learned how to outline. Or, I should say, how the others learned to outline and I learned how to write numbered and lettered paragraphs. It’s true. I had (and am finding out I still have) the rampant inability to pick out the key facts even in my own work. I start out with the best intentions. I have a partially formed, hazy, single sentence hovering in my head, perfectly embodying the contents of the entire chapter. As soon as I try to put it on paper, though, my hand (or hands if typing), go into overdrive, flinging paragraphs onto the page while part of me is saying, “Stop! Stop! You’re doing it wrong!” while the other part screams, “But it’s all important!”
As my frustration with this new phase of my writing career grows, so does the nasty little idea that I’m somehow in over my head. But, if I take a step back and think about it, it’s the exact same feeling I had when I started writing the book, too. Once I get a handle on how to do this, it’ll be easier for me next time — just like with the novel (I’m hoping, at least; it’s not really a proven theory at this point). This is simply something new, and new things always take a while to work out. To be honest, the only time I’ve ever truly been in over my head (and it was way, way over my head) was when math was put in front of me. And this isn’t math. It’s a couple of letters, a few numbers and maybe a bullet point, or two.
I think I’ll view this experience as taking a hike up a long, difficult hill. Not in that cheesy, inspirational poster sense, but in the sense that it will suck the entire time I’m doing it, but, when its behind me and the aches and pains are gone, my brain will have managed to convince me that I had fun.