This is #PitMad day and for those lucky many who don’t know what this is, it’s a twitter event conceived by people who thought it’d be fabulously fun to have writers reduce their manuscripts to a tweet. Agents and editors are suppose to check in and if they like your tweet they heart it, meaning you then send them a sample and a full query letter–which is what you do anyway so, in essence, #PitMad is an annoying extra step in the process. You get three chances to tweet over 12 hours. After all this, and a few hearts, you may get an offer of representation and perhaps–just perhaps–a chance to get your work out into the world.
So, let me break this down for you from my small point of view. I have written a 55,000 word memoir about my best friend in high school who was an artist and who provided me with much needed courage to write. She was beautiful and wildly talented, funny, and supportive. Everyone, especially me, thought she’d be the one to make it. But she died at 28 of an overdose, not having painted in years. The book, then is about me trying to piece together our past to understand the present, of why I continued to write and be alive when she, who had so much more, failed. I know that sounds so depressing but I swear, much of it is funny–and oh, yeah, it’s illustrated with her paintings that serve to forward the narrative.
Go ahead! Have fun reducing all that to 280 characters!
[DISCLOSURE: The wonderful agent who represented my last book didn’t think this one was right for her which for many reasons I expected and am fine with. But now I have to find myself another lovely agent.]
Anyway, over two months and with the help of husband, youngest son, and a very good Random House editor, I write three different tweets for today. This is the chronicle in real time of how it’s going:
Tweet #1: My friend, Clare, a wildly talented painter and sensual beauty, was supposed to be the famous one by the time we turned 28. Instead, she died of an overdose. So why was I still writing while, before dying, Clare hadn’t painted in years? Why was I still here? #PitMad #A #Mem
9:34 PM last night: With the idea of getting right out there, I set up a scheduled tweet on TweetDeck for 8:16 this morning then get ready for bed. Double check computer to make sure everything is set up and Twitter flashes an alarm that tweet is over the limit. What the hell?! I ignore it and go to bed.
7:20 AM this morning: Open computer. Looks like message didn’t go through. Shit. Check #PitMad rules and find a post that says, despite what’s on the #PitMad site, I now need to make posts the usual 140 characters. Relying on adrenaline rather than caffeine, I slash post down to 140.
Tweet 1a: Dismissed, battered by sex abuse, yet Clare and I never lost our artistic ambitions. She died 28yo hadn’t painted in years. What happened to still her? #PitMad #A #Con #Mem
8:11 AM: Rush off to meet strict trainer who is repairing my broken body. In locker room, check tweet. DAMN IT! What’s STILL doing there? DAMN IT! Stupid dumb ass sloppy novice mistake! Trainer can’t believe how many anger reps I’m doing, tells me to cut it out–first time a trainer has told anyone to cut back reps.
10:30 AM: Home, guzzle Tylenol for impending muscle aches, meditate for 15 minutes because I’m going to need it, and begin working on slashing the other two tweets. Run out to get dog medicine, return a stupid Amazon purchase I can’t afford, decide I need a break and stop off at the Salvation Army. Find a Duluth Trading Company women’s size gray work overall for $5–a onesie to save me from the complexity of getting fully dressed in the morning!! Home by 1:30. Prepare next tweet.
2:00 PM: Change into my new old overalls and make a lunch out of stuff left over from a weekend dinner party.
Decide to watch Dave Chappelle’s special, Sticks and Stones. Could be the day but I don’t find it as meanspirited as people are saying. But hey, look! Dave and I are wearing sort of the same thing!
2:45 PM: What’s this? Two people have retweeted my tweet. Why? What the hell? Are you suppose to do that? Go back to rules. Yeah, you can do that. But what does that do, except to meet some very terrifically supportive people? Where are the friggin’ agents? I retweet the people who retweeted me–their books sound very cool and, like me, they haven’t gotten any agent hearts yet. See what other writers are getting and….holy SHIT! People are getting hearted all over! Okay, yeah, their tweets sound cool, heartwarming, scary, inspiring, much more savvy and better written than mine…Okay, well, I have one more chance. Return to desk and do more rewriting–plus complain in this post.
4:00 PM: Have to walk Tara, my ancient, cognitively dysfunctional dog.
Get Tara home, feed her and give her her arthritis medicines. Cat decides he doesn’t like the food he’s been eating for two years and bites my toe, his way of telling me I suck. Despite intensifying headache, I know I have to think about feeding the humans in the house. Force myself to defrost a bunch of chicken thighs. Guide ancient dog up the stairs to her bed. Return to desk. I’d really like a drink.
6:30 PM: Decide I need some music. Turn up the volume on The Smiths’ Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. Throw chicken legs in with some herbs, maybe butter, I don’t know. They’re all lucky there’ll be something to eat
7:00 PM: Visualizing all the agents in New York City gathering at some bar, scrolling through their accounts and laughing at all the inane writers there are. But they also found a few gems, and good for them! Let’s celebrate how many wonderful stories there are in the world and all the talented people telling them! And they include two of my retweet buddies, one with 16 hearts and the other with 7!! I’m sending them a bunch of hearts myself!
Tweet 3: Although no one supported us, Clare and I, best HS friends, shared a fierce ambition to be artists. Between us, she was considered the most wildly talented, on top of being a sensual beauty. Yet when she died at 28 she hadn’t painted in years. I’m driven to find out what happened, why I was still writing, still here. #PitMad #A #Con #Mem
7:04 PM Try to post–it’s 61 characters over….. Enculer!! (The only French word I remember from high school.)
Tweet 3a: My best HS friend, Clare–wildly talented artist and sensually beautiful–was expected by everyone to succeed. Yet she hadn’t painted in years when she died of an overdose at 28yo. I’m driven to find out what happened, why I was still writing, still here. #PitMad #A #Con #Mem
7:16 PM Post. I’m outta here
8:13 PM: No hearts… As Samuel L. Jackson has said on twitter many times: Motherf***er