Pitch Wars was the first time in my life when a stranger told me they liked the words I put on paper. Even went so far as saying she loved them.

Her name is Judi, and she’s been my mentor since August 24th. Two days before my birthday.

At first, when the winners were announced, I didn’t bother checking who won. I already had the first draft to my next book written, and was ready to start editing once I could finally get Pitch Wars out of my head.

But Judi had other plans.

She emailed me a few hours after the announcement when I’d remained MIA on Twitter. I remember looking at her message, experiencing a feeling I’d only heard about, but didn’t expect to know until much further down the road.

Someone had picked my book off the proverbial bookshelf and loved it. Even sifted through dozens of others, then claimed to the world that my story was for her.

My book had a fan. I’d never had a fan before.

Well, let me rephrase—I’ve had plenty of people in my life who supported me. Friends and family, along with a smattering of others I’ve come to know in the writing community. But if I was some Joe on the street offering my story, would they have still said yes?

For the first time, someone with no obligation to who I was loved the book I’d spent hundreds of hours on. The same book that on one day was rejected by an agent I’d poured all my hope into, making me cry into my steering wheel in the school parking lot when that hope turned crushing.

My first fan wanted to work with me, but she wasn’t just a fan. This was a contest after all, and she was a mentor. This mentor had ideas.

Cue the two-month montage: Between August 24th and November 10th, Judi tasked me with rewriting half the book. Now, why would Judi like my story so much if she wanted to change it? Well, Pitch Wars isn’t about finding the books you’d pick up in Barnes & Noble, it’s about finding the books that someday can be. Over several weeks, I went through my book three times, and Judi read my book three times. How she managed this on top of her other mentees, I have no idea. My brain would have been soup come November. But she did it, and the feedback she gave me was phenomenal.

And here we are in November, on the eve of the Agent Round I’ve worked so hard towards. My book has a shiny new coat, and it’s all thanks to a person who had little to gain when she decided to become a mentor, but so much to give.

Thanks Judi.

2 Comments

  1. A huge YAY from me, Clay. You and your writing are so deserving. I wish I had one quarter of your dedication to your craft!

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