Columns > Published on October 12th, 2021

How Pitch Wars Showed Me Where I Need to Grow - As A Person

This was supposed to be a positive article, an uplifting look at the benefits of Pitch Wars outside of just getting selected. I was going to talk about how the deadline of the submission period forced me to put my head down and work, and crank out a book when I might have otherwise dilly-dallied endlessly. I wanted to shine a light on the community-building aspects of Pitch Wars, which are honestly great.

See, Pitch Wars does build community, whether you’re participating in the official chats on the hashtag, doing #PWPOEPrompts and adding your voice to the daily tweets during the reading period, or just hyping up your friends in private chats and group messages. Either way, you’re going to come out of the experience much closer to your writing buds, and you may acquire some new ones, too.

I could have talked about how Pitch Wars is great practice for figuring out what makes your book stand out in the crowd — what the “hook” is. It’s all about that pitch, a killer query and first few pages, both during the initial submission and of course during the showcase after the revision period has passed.

But here’s the thing — as of writing this article, it’s been three days since mentors started reading materials, and I have had zero requests to read more of my manuscript.

And so I’m spiraling. I’ve convinced myself that I’m not going to get a request, because my book is a dumpster fire and my writing is garbage. I’ve heard from friends who’ve already heard back from mentors dying to read their books, and I’ve had silence. And if I’ve had silence after three days, surely, that means I will have silence for the whole reading period.

This article isn’t going to be about my spiral, though, because another truth is that if I woke up tomorrow morning and got a request, I’d be walking on clouds. I’d totally forget what it was like to feel sad and worthless, because I’d have that thing I crave above all others — validation.

Somehow, though I’ve known about Pitch Wars for five years now, which means I’ve had five years of people telling me it’s not about getting picked, and the true beauty is in the community you become part of along the way, I’ve internalized the idea that if I don’t get picked, I’m trash.
Which is bonkers because Pitch Wars received more than 4,000 submissions this year, for a hundred or a couple hundred slots.

Many of those 4,174 submissions are from excellent writers with great books and stories, and they won’t get chosen. That’s how math works.

But somehow I think I’m special and that if I’m good, I’ll get chosen.

And the issue isn’t Pitch Wars, let me be clear. Pitch Wars is an incredible opportunity for those chosen, a representation of the hard work and care the organizers and volunteers put it, and it’s really a beautiful expression of community. The issue is me.

I have evolved to a point where I crave external affirmation in order to see myself as good and worthy. And it needs to be constant. It needs to be a steady stream of “you’re amazing” and “you’re wonderful.” This is something I need to change. Especially as an aspiring author. There will never be constant good affirmation. And once you start publishing, you start to experience negative feedback, too, often against your will in the form of being tagged in harsh reviews.

This is deeper than needing to develop a thick skin. This is needing to reframe the way I view the world. The way I view myself.

I’m grateful for this year’s Pitch Wars because it highlighted this as a real issue for me, and now I know exactly what to bring to my appointment with my therapist for the next few weeks. A win! 

I’m also grateful to Pitch Wars for the opportunity it will present to writers to be mentored and to improve their writing and their books. And whether or not I’m eventually chosen, whether or not I get any requests for my book, I’m determined to work — on myself and on my writing — so that I don’t need external validation, and to someday see my books on shelves. Whether I get there through a mentorship contest, cold querying, a referral, a pitch contest...I just want to get there.

About the author

Karis Rogerson is a mid-20s aspiring author who lives in Brooklyn and works at a cafe—so totally that person they warn you about when you declare your English major. In addition to embracing the cliched nature of her life, she spends her days reading, binge-watching cop shows (Olivia Benson is her favorite character) and fangirling about all things literary, New York and selfie-related. You can find her other writing on her website and maybe someday you’ll be able to buy her novels.

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