"No Pitches, No Hits"
Earlier this year, in February, I had the unparalleled privilege of hearing the great Ann Patchett speak at Cincinnati's gorgeous Mercantile Library. One of my favorite authors of all time speaking in one of my favorite places of all time made for a night I don't think I will ever forget. The event had sold out in minutes, and she treated the packed house to one of the best author talks I have ever been to (and I have been to MANY author talks!).
She talked about getting Tom Hanks to narrate the audiobook of her latest novel, The Dutch House. She didn't really think he'd do it, but she figured, what's the harm in asking? She said, "No pitches, no hits, right?"
I was on the cusp of re-launching my editorial business, and her attitude was just the inspiration I needed to decide, finally, Yes, I DO want to run my own business again! And so I went forth and did so in March of this year, and here we are, dear readers.
[Some other things happened in March of this year, too, as we all know. No one has ever accused me of having perfect timing. Little did I know that night in February, but I would only go to one more author talk this year. Patchett's was the next to last. In a month (to the day), I would be shut into my home like everyone else in the world. But I digress...]
No pitches, no hits. You may not win, but you definitely don't get around the bases by not trying. You especially don't get anywhere by letting fear of failure decide. Such a simple piece of wisdom, but one that we can easily forget.
Why was I deciding to re-launch my business? Let's rewind a bit. After eight years of being a freelance editor and writer (with a few other interesting gigs mixed in), I spent fourteen months as editor-in-chief of Writer's Digest. It was an opportunity I simply could not pass up. So in January of 2019 I shuttered my business, and went back to work in an office building (something I honestly never thought I'd do).
WD is such a storied brand, and I knew I would love the challenge.
It ended up being a bit more of a challenge than I had anticipated when nine weeks into my tenure, WD's former parent company filed for bankruptcy protection. I hadn't even memorized where all the conference rooms were yet. Everyone (me the most of all) had spent three months talking about how I had finally landed my "dream job." I had my last interview for it on my birthday in December of 2018; it seemed fated. I had apparently reached the pinnacle of my career--everything I had spent more than twenty years in this business working toward. And then it all crashed down.
Wait, what? Life shocks the pants off of us sometimes, doesn't it?
So I had to make a decision--do I ride this wave, or do I leave, go back to my business? I decided to stay. To stick it out. It had only been a short time but I already dearly loved my team and the work we were doing. I wanted to hope that we would come out the other side. And eventually, we did. WD was bought by a new parent company; the work continued.
But it was not without a personal toll. I had pneumonia three times in nine months. I lost half my hair. My weight? Oh let's not even go there. I invest myself fully in the work that I do. Stress has always affected me drastically. This was no exception. And apart from that, I found that I missed working on books. I had spent far more time doing that than anything else over my career; it was a love I could not leave.
So I sat there, fourteen months later, listening to Ann Patchett, with a choice to make. And I made it.
No pitches, no hits. It is looking thus far like I made the right call. WD is doing fabulously well with its new editor at the helm, and I am editing some of the best books that have ever come across my desk. And I have had the opportunity to do some of the most interesting writing projects of my career, too. Every day I have a new, exciting challenge in my work. I feel so fortunate. And a lot of this wouldn't be possible if I hadn't ridden that crazy wave of WD. Maybe it was fated, after all.
There is still so much uncertainty in the world; we're all up against it right now. But through the (completely insane) past twenty months of my life, I have learned what I am truly good at, what I truly love to do. And even though being on my own is not without its own stressors, they're the kind I am used to. I feel a sense of control running my own business that simply isn't possible when you are working for someone else. That means a lot to me. The freelance life is definitely not for everyone; but it is for me.
So dear readers, what is my point with this long Sunday ramble? I suppose it is this--what are you letting fear keep you from in your work? In your life? What do you personally want to knock out of the metaphorical ballpark, but are afraid to step up to the plate on? (Apologies if I am mangling this analogy--I am a bookworm, not a sports fan.) Think about it. Talk about it. Need encouragement? Say it out loud to the Universe. Let someone know. I am betting you will find it.
As always, happy reading and KEEP WRITING!
PS--I had the chance this past week to be a guest blogger for Writers in the Storm (another of those interesting writing projects!). I gave my tips for good pitches. If you're wondering what they are, give in to your curiosity and check them out here.