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Here’s the pitch…

I was going to throw up.

I was surprised it hadn’t happened already. For over a month I had been working up to it; filled with a mild anxiety that I shoved to the back of my brain, but this morning there was no pushing it down as it churned my stomach and rose to my throat. I was going to vomit on the first day of my Pitch the Novel writing conference. All I could do was bring gum and hope it didn’t hit my shoes or anyone else.

I don’t know what I was thinking signing up for a conference where the sole purpose was to put yourself center stage and sell your novel. My heart flutters just waiting to introduce myself in a group. Yet, in a moment of poor impulse control coupled with new midlife bravado, I hastily pushed send on my application and doomed myself to a month of indigestion and second guessing.

And now, it was here.

My husband had taken the next few days off so that I could attend, and he and the boys were dropping me at the train; the one he usually took to the office. “We’re a family of pitchers,” he said, ever the coach, “Now go get em.” I smiled but still waved goodbye like I was heading off to war.

Walking on shaky, stilted legs to the platform, I felt so out of practice for being a real adult. Yet I fooled everyone by sitting down and staring at my cell phone mindlessly. Monkey see, monkey do.  What can I say? Eee Eee Eeee.

Forty-two minutes later, I stepped out of Penn Station and looked around excitedly at the blur of the faceless and the colorful, the purposeful and purposeless. It may only be a short train ride, but I was a long way from the person who used to walk these streets. I muscled up some lost swagger, straightened my sunglasses and only tripped once as I strode to the conference building where around 50 or so others loitered. Taking a deep breath that may as well have been filled with helium, I waited.

After introductions, we were split into three groups and I filed into a room with 16 others.  It was central casting for farm girls off the bus in the big city.  Still, though our wide-eyed expressions were the same, we were quite the hodgepodge; our ages ranging from 20’s-60’s, our races and backgrounds as diverse as the stories we were telling. We were the women’s fiction/memoir group. Many in the room had traveled a long distance to attend this conference. I felt a little lucky and guilty that I had easily hopped the 8:08 for our 9am start.

Our group leader, author Susan Breen, a kind woman and former success story of the conference, explained that we would each pitch our novel for feedback and critique from the group, then she asked us to turn the chairs in a circle. Ugh. Why did people like that?  But of course, I turned my chair and we all faced each other expectantly.

While this was our practice day before meeting with the real editors, putting myself center stage and pitching wasn’t practice for me, it was go time. I sweat in my chair just watching the first person take the hot seat. I guess she did okay. It was hard to concentrate with the light pounding in my head and heart palpitations.

I was up next.


I was going to throw up.




About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

53 responses »


    Well…….how’d it go????????

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Looking forward to the next installment!

  3. I hate when you are supposed to be paying attention to other people but you can’t because you are mentally preparing for your own turn. And then you get a little angry because the people are distracting you from doing your best. And then, because you are in a circle, everyone can see that you aren’t really paying attention and, OH MY WORD, WHEN CAN I GET THIS OVER SO I DON’T PUKE?!
    Um, in other words, I could relate to this.

  4. I really, really hope that you did not throw up. And that your pitch was successful.

  5. I was about to throw up for you. Next time doing something like this you really should take one helium balloon along with you…

  6. I’m on pins and needles! I need the next installment!

  7. I am just so proud of you for going to this conference!!! And, I can’t wait to read what happens next!

  8. So totally proud of you and inspired. I hope you will keep us posted!!! You’ve worked so hard– you deserve the brass ring! oxoxo

  9. Can’t wait to hear how it went! Next time you find yourself in the city on a weekday, look me up 🙂

  10. Tricia M Foster

    Great piece. Exactly what I needed to hear, today. I have three weeks off between summer courses and fall courses. I think it’s time to find a good writer’s conference to attend. I hope all goes well.

  11. And…you were fabulous, right? Please tell me I’m right!

  12. You seemed pretty calm to me. Congratulations on a great conference!

  13. Wow, sounds terrifying, congrats!

  14. Fantastic!!! Can’t wait to hear what happened next! You should feel so proud attending!

  15. What a great accomplishment! I suffer terribly from stage fright myself and felt I was nauseated there with you.

  16. suspenseful! Can’t wait to read more!

  17. Holy suspense, batman!! But good for you for even doing it at all. I am super timid when it comes to public speaking, unless it’s in a courtroom where I’m comfortable. But amongst a group of strangers, especially with something I wrote? Fuggedabadit!

  18. i love the monkey see monkey do eee eee. lol! I can’t wait to read what happens next!

  19. oh GOD you can’t end there!!! how’d it go?? blech, i can only imagine. you are a brave brave woman to go forth with this adventure. so proud and envious. go you! can’t wait for the next piece of this.

  20. I loved the part about the mid-life bravado. I get these moments where I’m all confident and I get myself into something and then I spend the rest of the time wondering why I did such a foolish thing. I can’t wait to hear how it went!

    • so true! i am torn lately between being a newer confident me who doesn’t give a crap and wants to do things for me and being terrified for what i got myself into! spoiler: it went well. 😉

  21. Natalie DeYoung

    I’d have probably thrown up, too. I get reeeeeeally nervous at the idea of putting myself out there…gah! I’m going to have to, eventually.

  22. I watched Pitchapalooza at the Erma Bombeck conference this year and almost threw up on behalf of the people who went. Also? The chairs in a circle? There is no good reason.

  23. Great job mustering up the courage to do this! It gives me strength to do the same someday.

  24. Congrats for making it through. I’d be a wreck! Can hardly wait for what’s to come…Hurry, now!

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