Thursday, February 5, 2009

Perfect Pitch

I woke up this morning snuggled under my yellow, down-alternative comforter, already writing this blog. Which proves, I guess, that one can become accustomed to anything, because I hate writing it and my brain usually shuts down the instant I set to work.

I think my sudden desire to write was more than bowing to the inevitable however.Since the pitch contest all you blogolytes have become real to me.

I no longer feel like I’m shouting into the blackness of a cave and trying to kid myself that the echoes coming back are a conversation.

Now I can hear your voice. I mean your voice. That distillation of personality and attitude transmitted in your intrinsic rhythms. I get your humor, your pain, your hopes.

All that in fifty words. Isn’t that amazing?

I don’t know you at all, and yet, I know you.

More than if we’d had one hundred sixty-some perky conversations of “Hi, I’m Lou-lou, and live in Walla Walla. I write XX. I have XX children and XX pets.” We list the pieces of our lives as if our visible attributes distinguish us. They don’t. They show which slots we fit in, not how we stand out.

It reminds me of a conversation I overhead once between (I’ll call them) Millie and Carol.

C: Do you know Sherri Jones?

M: Does she drive a white Toyota 4-Runner?

C: Yes.

M: She has two children—a boy in the second grade and a girl in the fourth?

C. Yes.

M: Is her husband branch manager at Westfork Bank?

C: Yes, I believe so.

M: They’ve lived here in Pleasant Acres four or five years?

C: That’s right.

M [shakes head decisively] No. I don’t know her.

Back to my thesis.

How do I know you since you used fifty words or less and didn’t talk about yourself at all?

This is the great mystery—the reason no one can define voice, although we all know it when we see (hear) it.

I used to notice that when my client began ask for what they wanted
*not what they thought they should want,
*not what they thought they deserved,
*not what they were willing to settle for because they didn’t believe they could have what they wanted--

When they began to put themselves on the line and stand behind their heart’s desire—sesions with them became miraculous, unpredictable, sometimes hilarious. Memorable. The more they asked for what they wanted, the more individual they became.

Instead of working a formula for life (which is what hanging onto our ego positions fundamentally amounts to) they were creating their lives from their heart.

Most people in her world think Emelina Caddington, PhD heroine of SEALed With a Promise is bland, boring, forgettable. When she first showed up in my mind I thought, "Girl, how am I ever going to make a heroine out of you?" A heroine is supposed to be someone larger than life, and she was smaller.

But she was right for Caleb, aka Do-Lord. I knew she was. So it was up to me to figure out the problem so they could have HEA.

After a few scenes I understood what her problem was--how she was keeping herself small. She didn't ask for what she wanted! Her story starts when she puts herself on the line and states what she wants. Okay, it's what she wants for her best friend, not herself, but it's a start. Do-Lord catches a glimpse of her heart, and she becomes real to him.

I think that’s why you blogolytes are real to me. You led with your heart. From your creative place. By the very act of pitching you said what you wanted and you put yourself on the line. Each of you had things that could have stopped you—maybe they have stopped you in the past—but this time you didn’t let them.

You said, this is who I am in the most private places, and, today, this is what I have to offer the world.”

I’m proud to know you.


  1. Interesting stuff! Victim, rescuer or persecutor. Hmmm, I think I'm a little of all three at one time or another, but mostly rescuer. It explains a lot. Thanks...

  2. Oops. Cheryl hasn't gone around the bend, y'all. She's responding to an earlier draft, one that did refer to Eric Berne's victim, rescuer and persecutor ego positions.

    My editors will tell you, I'm bad to want to keep editing, even after all SHOULD have been said and done. :-)

  3. LOL! You can stop editing now, MM!!! It was fine the way it was!

  4. Interesting musing, MM. I think so many of us define ourselves by the roles we play in life and by the things we "own." Ask someone to write a bio and you get: I'm Jane DOe, married to John Doe, with 2.5 perfect children, 2 cats in the yard, and a mini-van in the garage.

    As authors, we should get to the heart of our characters (and ourselves). I know that one of the hardest things I've done lately is condense that pitch to 50 words (or less). Thanks for the opportunity, and the insight. Nice to meet you, btw.

    PJ aka Silver James

  5. Fascinating stuff, MM. And it's hard, I think, for people to REALLY ask what for what they want. We've all been through it. You wouldn't think it would be such a tough thing to do, but it seems to be one of the hardest!

    Great post!

  6. MM--

    What you have said is so true! People putting their pitches up for the world to see must have been hard, but they followed their hearts and did what they thought will bring them closer to what they wanted. And now we have a lovely bunch of new friends on the blog!

    I agree that Emmie overcomes a major obstacle, too, when she finally takes a stand... It starts what a becomes a life-changing chain of events :)

  7. Oh Cheryl, I'm hopeless. But one of these days I will write at lenght about Berne's Transactional Analysis.

    It's fascinating grist for the writer's mill.

  8. Penny, it's nice to meet you too.

    I was partly inspired by a Jennifer Cruisie article about how to find the agent who's right for you.
    Turns out, it's all about knowing you are at heart and understanding the heart of your writing. You have to know what you want. And say so.

  9. Yep, Kendra. It is hard to ask for what you want. I've seen the time when I broke out in a cold sweat and the words stuck in my throat.

    It wouldn't be worth doing if there were any other way! :-)

  10. You're right Danielle, Emmie's whole life changes--though not in ways she would have predicted, and she's not always comfortable with the changes--the day she puts first puts herself on the line.

  11. Marie, I'm looking forward to your post tomorrow. Hope you didn't get caught in the snow on your way home.

  12. Mary Margret, As always you write a thought provoking blog - even when I would rather not think so hard! LOL! It is so true that what we write speaks so loudly as to who we are and what we believe. I have not fundamentally changed since I began writing, but I can now analyze and detail how I think much better than I could before. When you spoke of your clients, it reminded me of what our Pastor always says about counseling someone: that it is after they say 'but', after they have listed all the obvious issue, that he can get to the heart of the matter. All so interesting. But the seriousness aside, I just can't wait to get my hands on Caleb and Emeline!

  13. Thanks, Sharon. Writing pulls all kinds of things within us closer to the surface doesn't it?

    About what your pastor says. When I give NLP workshops I always remind my students that people never, never say what they really came for in their first sentence. Sometimes not even in the first session.:-)

  14. Well said, MM. First you have to know what you want. People tend to use generalities because they're afraid to say, as with your character, what they *really* want. Perhaps they're afraid of being told no, or being perceived as selfish.

    Once you've identified what you want, then you have to work for it. If *that-whatever that is* is what you really want, don't settle for anything else.

    Find enjoyment in the journey to get what you want, too. It makes the recieving of it all the more sweeter...

    Thanks for the thought-provoking article, I really enjoyed it.