Dealing with Nervous Energy
This evening, I will be pitching my unfinished novel to a panel of strangers.
This is part of my novel-writing class and is mostly an exercise. But, it isn’t just an exercise. At the end of this evening, the panel will choose two of the pitches and request the first 20 pages of those manuscripts to share with the owner of the bookstore where our class meets. She will then show one or both of the pitches to the Chief Acquisitions Editor of a major publisher, with whom she has a personal relationship. The last time she did this with one of my instructor’s classes, the editor asked to see the full manuscript.
This is not a drill.
I have not been focusing well for the last three days.
This afternoon, I yielded to the wisdom I have acquired over three decades in theatre. I took a nap. (For those of you worried about the kids you know I homeschool, they were occupied and I was right near them.)
I have been writing this novel for over two years. I have been revising my pitch and synopsis for a month. A few extra hours of revising and prepping were going to make me more nervous, not improve my performance tonight.
And, sure enough, when I woke up, I was calmer.
My nerves will be on fire again later tonight, but I have to trust that I am as well rehearsed as possible and that I know my work. Tonight I will focus on deep breathing, relaxing my eyes, and talking to the panel with energy and enthusiasm. It is all I can do at this point.
I don’t know when I will hear whether or not my work will move on to the next stage of this process, but I will surely have another strong emotional response at that time.
How do you manage your nerves when you have something important at stake?