Any writer who takes themselves seriously is working on a book, or that’s how it seems. And what’s worse, many writers want you to know they’re working on a book. This makes sense from a marketing perspective, I suppose, but after poring over many author profiles and personal essays and running a back-of-the-envelope cost/benefit analysis, I can’t imagine ever being bold enough to declare to the masses that I’m writing a book. Even if I were to have the endurance to finish such a project (which seems unlikely at best), my research indicates that even the best of books can go unread for a very, very long time. Or forever. And those few successful books that make an author rich and famous often get published due to some random coincidence, like the author running into a publisher at a coffee shop, or through a friend of a friend’s cousin, or whatever.
Writing a book is a big gamble. So even though I do happen to be writing a book, I prefer you keep that between you and me. And there’s definitely no need for you to anticipate me completing the book, or the book being any good if I do.
Tons of books fail, tons of essays and articles fail, and writing in general necessitates a thick skin (and a good therapist, many say). It’s even possible to fail before doing any serious writing, by pitching an idea for a story or article to an editor and that idea getting rejected right out of the gate. This is the type of failure I dapple in most right now, because it’s what we software engineers call “failing fast.” I need to have a lot of these quick, little failures under my belt if I’m ever to take the ultimate leap of faith and commit to finishing what could be a failure of a book.
On that note, I’m proud to announce my first failed pitch!
The call for pitches was one I found from a health magazine, seeking writing on a certain topic. I, having quite the experience with unhealthiness, figured I could easily make a break with a well-worded pitch that combined the desired topic with my chronic illness experience. I sent my idea off to the editor straightaway.
The editor got back to me the same afternoon. It is rare, in my experience, for an editor to be so responsive, so I had not a small amount of anticipation when I clicked on the email.
He was very polite and informed me that the theme I followed closely for my pitch, “Promising Young Woman,” is not a generic topic meant to encourage creativity, but a movie title. He was asking for someone to pitch a review of the movie, not a slice of slightly inspiring, mostly comical, doubtlessly interesting personal anecdotes about migraines.
The editor managed to point out my mistake without calling attention to the fact that I live under a rock, which I much appreciated.
I’m so glad to claim this as my first of many failures.
Also, why are health magazines publishing movie reviews? Seems counterproductive to me.
Please subscribe to the blog for email updates.