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  • Writer's pictureSophia Dunkin-Hubby

The Box

Three boxes - a yellow Pantone Tin, a box wrapped in Venetian paper in red, green, and gold on a cream background, and a octagonal, enamel box in green, white, and black with an iridescent finish.

Next February I will be attending my first writer’s conference in San Francisco, and pitching my book for the very first time. This is terrifying step for me. I love writing my story, but I hate talking about it. When people ask me what my story is about I inevitably stutter and stumble around while trying to explain, even though I get asked this question all the time. You’d think I would have gotten used to it by now, but nope. There are lots of articles, workshops and classes dedicated to what makes a good pitch, and I will be practicing a lot before I actually do it. However, I think the reason that I dislike it so much is it requires defining it, deciding what it is – essentially putting it in a box.

As long as it remains undefined it is can be anything. The possibilities are endless. But once I define it, and the box takes shape, it is limited. I feel pressure to make sure whatever I pick is good. There is also the challenge of making sure the box I put it in fits the story, that I don’t try to make it something it isn’t. And then I need to select a box that appears to others as it does it me, that I’m clearly communicating my vision. So much pressure.

I think there is a larger issue though. It’s not just about my book. It’s also about me, deciding who I am as a writer and presenting that to the world. I just came to the conclusion that I am a writer, now I have to decide what kind of writer I want to be? Or what question I am always trying to answer with my stories? Why?!! I haven’t done much yet. How am I supposed to know?

I have this trouble in the rest of my life as well. Defining my clothing style – do I have to? There are so many fun options, I want to try them all! (I can safely rule out minimalism. I think it’s boring. But that leaves plenty of other options.) Same with interior design. My style could best be described as eclectic with a penchant for drama. Taste in books – whatever I’m interested in at the time. I’m a curious person. I don’t like to be limited.

I follow a handful of bloggers on Instagram and have seen them talk a lot in the last year about their brands. For a brand to be successful it needs to be clearly identifiable, and almost everything they do, or everything they present on social media, needs to fit the image that they have created. I’m not sure I want to do that, ever. There are days I want to be sophisticated, elegant, and a bit French. But then there are others where I want to be sarcastic, funny, and quirky. All of those are aspects of my personality, but to separate out a few would diminish the whole.

So, what’s the solution? I think I need to view the box as temporary, both for me and for my story. The point of pitching my story is to see how it pitches. It’s a trial. If the box that I pick doesn’t work I get rid of it and start over. The same goes for me. I am new at this and the box that fits me right now, won’t necessarily work in the future. So I will focus on what moves me right now, and not worry too much about tomorrow.

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