There is an event in the writing world called #PitMad. It is a Twitter event with a specialized hashtag, #PitMad in this case, where writers can pitch their novels to agents. It’s a bit like Carnivale crossed with Bedlam.
These events have really taken off in the past couple of years. From initially a few hundred pitches over the day agents and publishers can now be bombarded with thousands of pitches an hour. How they wade through all that, I have no idea.
How you stand out as a writer is even harder.
This is where my Complex PTSD enters the picture.
For someone who has grown up in an environment where they were in essence ‘invisible’ learning how to be seen, and heard, and noticed is an exercise in something not only new but frightening in cases. If like me, your home was dysfunctional with explosive anger you might also have learned that being unseen was safer. I learned early that it was better to be the child that didn’t need, or want, or ask.
I learned that lesson so well, so many times that I even made up a little catechism that I recited every night.
Don’t Ask – You’ll be denied.
Don’t Rely – You’ll be disappointed.
Don’t Trust – You’ll be betrayed.
By the time I was 13 I had carved a reminder of this into my arm so I would never forget it again. I still have those scars forty years later.
But, I’m trying not to live by those rules anymore. Trying. The healing doesn’t always go smoothly or in a straight line. Think of it more like a mental health cha-cha. Sometimes you go forward, sometimes you go back. You get the idea.
To tie these two things together – PitMad and CPTSD recovery – think of it as peeling off layers and layers of habitual camouflage. Rule one of PitMad is if you want to ‘win’ an agent’s attention via the event – you have to enter. You must put yourself out there. An agent is not going to come knocking on your door.
Participation, putting myself ‘out there’, that means making an active attempt to be seen. That idea just registers in my core as pure insanity.
Be Seen. NO! That’s when ‘bad things’ happen. You get ignored or hurt when you are seen.
Don’t touch it! Just, put the idea down, and slowly step away.
One day you finally figure “Meh, I’ll try it.” So, you do. And you hear the worst thing you could. SILENCE.
Why is silence the worst? When in a situation like PitMad it could mean –
- The agent just isn’t looking for a fantasy book about a mentally challenged heroine.
- The agent blinked when your pitch scrolled by.
- They stepped away for a minute (they’re human, too)
- Their dog farted and they had to clear the room.
- They already have a book that is a fantasy about a mentally challenged heroine.
Who knows? There are literally millions of reasons that no one put a little red heart next to your entry. And the competition is stiff. Thousands of entries for all kinds of books scroll by during the day. There is not enough time to respond to them all.
But, though my rational brain knows this, my emotions tie themselves into knots and I’m that small, inconsequential, invisible girl again. Being back in that place makes me wonder if I ever left it at all. Maybe that invisibility is permanent? Perhaps there is nothing I can do to be seen or heard. I will forever be shouting into the void. And, even there, drowned out by millions of others. Never to be more than a dull anonymous speck among stars.
After a few tries you wonder if the voices of the CPTSD are right. You fear you never will be ‘visible’.Part of me contracts with the pain of the idea. Trying to shelter myself from more disappointment. But there is a tiny voice within undulled by all the abuses and fear that whispers – “Try.”
That seed, our original and true self, is the one we must nourish.
So, rest when you must. When you can, move on; sure in the knowledge that the Universe sees you.