In Fall to Fly: Life Follows Loss, Robin Botie, designer and dreamer in Ithaca, New York, brings her rebellious young adult daughter to life again as she hangs onto her through the wilds of cancer, crying, “Your cancer is my cancer,” and Marika blasts back, “Mom, get a life” – which is exactly what Botie must do on the other side of the journey.
This is the latest version of my elevator pitch for my book, my premise. It’s a one-sentence description that quickly conveys information about the characters, the conflict, stakes and setting. In this fast-paced world, there’s often only a minute to get a message out and get noticed. It’s supposed to be the first line of the query letter I send to get an agent.
“Fall to fly,” my daughter wrote in her poem. In her attempt to achieve health, she often had to undergo scary and painful treatments. Now it’s my turn to take the plunge. In order to get my manuscript published, I have to take the next intimidating steps.
So Tuesday I attended a Women TIES seminar in Syracuse. It was to be an easy first step. I’d simply sit in a crowd and listen to speeches about different paths to publishing. But as soon as I entered the conference room I realized I would have to introduce myself.
OMG. Who am I now? What would I say? Should I draw attention to the loss of my daughter? Could I simply say I’m from Ithaca and I’m writing a memoir? My pulse thundered in my head as I tried to think.
Suddenly I remembered I had an elevator speech.
“Hi. I’m Robin Botie from Ithaca. I’ve written a memoir about hanging onto my rebellious young adult daughter through the wilds of cancer, crying, ‘Your cancer is my cancer,’ as she blasts back, ‘Mom, get a life’ – which is exactly what I must do on the other side of the journey.”
My heart was still pounding as I sat down. It was the first time I used my premise. It wasn’t perfect and I’m sure I stuttered. But I got it out and my elevator is still climbing:
I write and Photoshop about finding life after loss because anything’s possible – even joy.
The power in putting the mess and the mission of my life into one line is exhilarating.
What is your elevator speech?