Pitch Wars is over, and it’s been quite a ride.
In September, after making my scene map, I was floundering in my revisions. Then I listened to NPR’s First Listen of Hamilton, and it reminded me of why I wrote my book in the first place: I love musical theater. Every time you listen to Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, there is a palpable sense of joy, respect and love for hip-hop, musical theater and heck, LIFE, that is inspiring.*
I refocused my book more specifically around musical theater, and made it a common language among my main character, a drama teacher, and her choral director. Basically since mid-September I have only been listening to show tunes, mostly a mix of Matilda (which I saw in London in September), In The Heights, Hamilton and selected other shows.
Given the amount written about Hamilton, it feels redundant to talk about how in love I am with everything about it, including the soundtrack. But it also occurred to me that certain Hamilton numbers can serve as allegories for Pitch Warriors.
As Charlie Rose said on 60 Minutes recently, “everyone wants their shot.” For a lot of us, Pitch Wars was an amazing opportunity, and we didn’t want to throw it away. I don’t think I can still be described as young, but I am scrappy and hungry when it comes to this book.
Right Hand Man
As George Washington mentored Hamilton, Laura Heffernan was my Pitch Wars general. I would steal cannons, slam her rivals, or write anything for her. My sense is, in general, our generals were matched very well with mentees.
There is a point where every revising writer wants to set their work on fire, to burn, if you will. We’re helpless, in this case about where it is all going.
“You’ll never be satisfied.” This song reminded me (in subject matter) of a Smash gem – They Just Keep Moving the Line. (If you are an aspiring writer, go listen to this on repeat, especially the part about making friends with rejection).
Satisfied is a good reminder that even if you get agent requests in Pitch Wars, and the agent, and the contract, there is always going to be something else you want – the book to succeed, the film deal, love and adoration of the general public, awards, etc. Learning to be satisfied with what you have, while always striving, is a balancing act. Let me know if you’ve figured it out, because I sure haven’t.
For much of October, I worked on CALLBACK constantly, I wrote like I was running out of time. In this case, I was, because the Pitch Wars deadline was the end of the month.
Say No To This
Probably some other people had healthier attitudes, but I’ve found my ability to say no to junk food dramatically decreased during Pitch Wars. Exercise was easier to resist.
Blow Us All Away
The big week arrived, and I think it’s fair to say Eric Bell blew us all away, racking up more than 20 agent requests. I can’t wait for the day ALAN KIM is in stores and I can say “Hey, Pitch Wars alum!”
And finally, it’s out of order, but let’s end on Wait for It, sung by Aaron Burr. It’s what most of us are doing right now as we query or wait for responses. We’re all a little Hamilton and a little Burr.Luckily most of us aren’t putting our lives on the line, or facing the constant threat of death. But like Burr sings, “I am the one thing in life I can control.” Is there a reason for us to keep pushing on, especially as others quit? I don’t know. But I hope, to quote another favorite musical, that something’s coming. And it’s going to be cool.
*Shout-out to Pitch Warrior Mairi Kilaine, who a) edited this post b) told me she too is listening to Lin-Manuel Miranda every chance she gets and c) has an awesome manuscript titled UNCONVENTIONAL.