On Being Prepared…

Sunday is typically my get things done day. Laundry, chores, calling Mom. But I’m also finding it is a good day for blog posts. Though I don’t want to commit to doing one every Sunday because I tried something like that on my last blog and it didn’t work so well. No more long-term commitments, posts come when they come.

I heard something yesterday that I thought might be good for writers who don’t always prepare as well as we should (like me). I tend to only prepare when I need to, but what I heard yesterday might just turn that around.

I was listening to Comedy Central radio and Chris Hardwick was doing this bit where he talks to his audience. Lo and behold, he happened upon a writer. And oddly enough, he stayed with this writer longer than anyone else he spoke with. And what’s the first thing he asks? “What do you write?” Of course. And the guy hemmed and hawed a little. The entire time I was thinking “Elevator Pitch! Elevator Pitch!” But the writer just didn’t do it. Then Hardwick asked the guy to describe the plot, just in case any lit agents were in the audience. He was trying to help the writer out as he’d just received his very first rejection that day. The writer responds with “Well it’s about this lawyer…” and immediately Hardwick yells “Boring!” partly for laughs. But isn’t it true? How often do we start our pitches with “Well it’s about this man, or this girl, or this cheetah…blah, blah, blah”? Finally, after about a minute the guy gets the basic idea out. And without missing a beat Hardwick says: “So it’s like John Grisham meets It’s a Wonderful Life”.

Boom. I almost flipped over the pizza I had in the car I was so excited. In less than a second Hardwick managed to boil this guy’s entire premise down to ten words, and it totally captured the plot without going through all the nonsense. If the writer had just said that at the beginning, it would have been so much clearer. Obviously he was not prepared to pitch his book that night, but it got me to thinking. Shouldn’t we always be prepared? If we have a finished manuscript we should always have the one-sentence elevator pitch on the end of our tongues. Because even years later, I am hearing that guy’s pitch hundreds of miles away. You never know where an opportunity might strike.

Now I am guilty of not doing this. If someone walked in my front door right now and told me to give them my pitch I could do it, but it would be messy, like the writer in that audience. Six weeks ago I had it down cold for DFWcon. And in another two months I’ll have it down cold again for WDC17. But what about all that time in-between? How many times do I tell someone I’m a writer only for them to ask “What do you write?” and then I have to scramble a bit? I guess my point is, maybe I should always be ready for Chris Hardwick to come ask me about my book.

You never know, it could happen 😀

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