As I write this post (late) Monday night, I just returned home after the regional writing conference, Desert Dreams. I had a great time, met wonderful people, attended thought-provoking workshops, and pitched for the first time (and the second time and the third time).
I think the pitches went well. I got requests and I didn’t throw up on anyone. *smile* In fact, I wasn’t nervous in the slightest.
Let me put this into perspective. Last Thursday before the conference, I was a nervous wreck. Hyperventilating, shivering, feeling sick to my stomach, etc. I didn’t get any sleep Thursday night. None. Zero. Nada. Not even dozing off for 5 minutes in the middle of the night. (Great way to start a conference, right?)
Luckily, my family was there for me. Their support kept me from thinking about backing out. They even drove me to the conference to make sure I arrived.
And from the time I stepped out of the car at the entrance to the hotel/conference center, I was fine. No nerves or anything.
I was rather shocked at that extreme change. How could I go from “ready to throw up” nerves to being calm and confident that quickly?
As the conference was winding down, I shared this story with two new friends. One of them, Rose Meyer (and Rose, I apologize if I spelled your name wrong. I can’t find your card, did I get one? I’m so brain dead right now I barely know my name. Anyway…) said:
“You’d left the plane.”
She was referring to the stories the other woman, Melissa Borg, and I had shared about skydiving. We’d talked about how once you leave the plane, there’s no going back. After that step, there’s no point in being nervous. Gravity ensures that you’re just along for the ride.
The conference was a similar situation. Once I’d left my ride behind, I was stuck there, so I may as well go with the flow.
This was definitely a time when the anticipation was worse than the reality. I think that reaction happens to many of us. We build up stress and worry, and then we wonder why we suffered through all that when everything goes well.
Some of us might freak out at the thought of sharing our work with beta readers for the first time. Or sending a query letter to an agent. Or submitting a final draft to an editor. Etc., etc.
I think this is something that gets better with time and experience. I hope so anyway. I have my workshop with Rachel Graves to look forward to at RWA Nationals this July, and I hate to think of how worked up I’ll be before that. RWA Nationals is ten times as big as this regional conference was, and presenting to a roomful of people is different than pitching to a single person.
I’m pointing out to myself that I no longer stress about sending query letters (I still don’t like writing the darn things, but that’s a separate matter) or sharing my work with beta readers. I hope other new experiences will soon become “old hat” as well.
All I know is that when we’re first doing something new, that “first step” takes a lot of courage. We’re risking something different from what we’ve ever risked before. We might have to psych ourselves up with not only “I’ll be fine” thoughts, but also “this step will be worth it” cheers.
For me, this step of pitching for the first time was worth it. We can’t move forward and progress without risk. Yes, that first step can be a doozy, but we’ll often find that the rest of the problem isn’t as hard as we’d anticipated.
Do you struggle with “first steps”? Which ones have you fought to get past? How did you do it? Have you found it to get easier with time? If you’ve done an in-person pitch, what was your experience?
Photo credit: JankyPin It