However trite and perhaps sophomoric, I am of course, taking the icon quote of Martin Luther King, Jr. and making an attempt for a witty play on words. A struggling author trying to become published in a literary world where agents are inundated every day with more submissions than they can handle quickly finds that no matter how great their novel is, if the three or four paragraph summary doesn’t grab an agent right away – it’s back to the drawing board. One page. That is all you get as a writer to sell an agent that what you’ve written will be the next Harry Potter or that you are the next James Patterson. If you are like me, a man of many words and not a few, the task of summarizing a hundred thousand words that you’ve poured your heart and soul into can be daunting and next to impossible.
And then it hit me. The arduous and heartbreaking task of a first time author to break into the business is not unlike the people we meet in our lives on a daily basis. You don’t know them. They don’t know you. A passing in the hallway or a shared ride in an elevator with someone who could possibly be your new best friend, but no one says anything, no one breaks the ice. Why? An inner shyness no doubt plays a part in who goes first or not at all. Beyond that? It’s your one sheet, your three or four paragraphs you present to the world about who you are and what you are made of that sets others on their heels or implores them to make contact.
If you could summarize who you are and what you are made of – is that what you project? Think about it. I know your immediate knee-jerk reaction is “of course I do! I keep it real!” but do you? I know I don’t. I wish I did. So why don’t we? What are we afraid of? Being vulnerable, exposed. Or maybe you’re unsure of who you are. The way we treat others, the way we dress, the way we walk, talk and chew gum are all projections of who we are, some conscious, some not.
So where am I going with this?
If you had to sell yourself to the world, what would your three or four paragraphs be? What would be the key points that would grab us all and want us to know more? Would they be a retrospective reflection or a telescope cast to the future? Would you change the person you’re encapsulating or would you change the once clear summary to who you really are?
It has been said “Life is short”. I disagree. It’s long. It’s a journey. Some of us believe the road we take defines us. I believe you define the road you take and make it your own. Believe in who you are or who you want to be. Be the catch phrase that captures the world’s attention. Sell yourself.
If that doesn’t work, don’t EVER stop trying to write a better story…