Who knew it would be easier to write a 75,000 word book than to sum up said book in 50 words?
Thursday: the Christian Writers Guild posts an article by Suzanne Eller about preparing and practicing your "elevator pitch" before attending their writers conference. (For the uninitiated, this is the 60-second sales pitch you give an editor if you suddenly find yourself riding the elevator together and he or she asks "what is your book about?")
This is a very smart and generous move on the part of the Guild. They even let you post your own elevator pitch for a free evaluation by Suzanne.
"Great," I think. I already have mine ready. This will be the perfect opportunity to have someone rave about how awesome it is, thereby boosting my confidence. I post it.
Friday: I get a reply. Suzy says it's too wordy. Doesn't answer the right questions. Cut it down to 50 words, which is one third of its current length.
Fifty words, are you kidding me?!?!
Confidence sagging, I give it a shot and resubmit it. I am certain it stinks, so I prepare a third version while I'm waiting, 87 words long. Surely this one will be a winner.
Monday: I get a reply on the 50-word version. "Better, but still doesn't answer the right questions."
Well of COURSE not. How CAN it, in only 50 miserable little words? I am getting impatient with this Suzie lady. Thankfully, I have my 87-word version ready and fire it back. I know I can deliver it in under a minute if I talk fast.
Suzie replies promptly. "Too long. Still doesn't answer the right questions. (The character, the situation, the conflict)."
OK, now I'm mad. It is not possible to tell everything she wants me to tell in 50 words. I give up. Whatever made me think I could or should do this, anyway? Suzie will not hear from me again.
Thirty minutes later, I decide to give it one last shot. I take the example provided in her original article and use it like a template, replacing details from her story with details from my own. I fire back this fourth attempt, then work off my frustration scrubbing the bathroom. Not sure how long it's been since the toilet was this clean.
My next reply from Suzie is swift and to the point. She loves it!
Well, of course she does. She practically wrote it.
I don't say this. I thank her instead. I wonder why I didn't follow her example in the first place.
It's much too late in life to be this slow a learner.