Maneuvering my book-stuffed carry-on by the first class seats on an airplane is always nerve-wracking for me. First, I imagine I’m sprawled in one of these seats, sipping a scotch on the rocks and hiding the wince at the sting on my throat while pretending it was my drink of choice. Then, I try to avoid eye contact so the man yelling into his blackberry doesn’t get the impression that I wish to be as important as he thinks he is. But this time, after waving to the (hopefully) sober pilots, my eye caught a familiar sight–8 ½ by 11 white sheets, one-inch margins, twelve-point font, and name and page number in the right top corner. The black-clad, funky-eyeglassed, spiky-haired woman flipping the pages could only have been an agent or an editor, right? I strained my eyes to read the name on the manuscript but, not having received my new not-funky-eyeglass prescription, the letters were blurred fluff. Time for my pitch.
Before attending a writer’s conference, we’re told to practice our elevator pitch. That one line that will sum up the brilliant novel I’ve agonized over for ten years. As I walked past the wide, cushy seats that day, words rolled around on my tongue, curling into a wave that would spill out onto the publishing gatekeeper’s tray table. But then I realized that cornering an agent on an airplane would be as rude as following her into the ladies room and offering toilet paper under the stall—with my pitch scribbled onto it. So, I swallowed my words, joined the herd and squeezed into my seat in the back of the plane.