Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

No Pitch Goes Unheard Here

“I never put off till tomorrow what I can possible do – the day after.” Oscar Wilde

I will do a few today, just a few. They should know. It’s only fair. No one should be left hanging, waiting. I wouldn’t want to remain in limbo, forever anticipating. I scroll down the list of those highlighted emails. There are about 150 of them.

To be fair, I have acknowledged each and every one. Immediately. It’s a point of pride. If someone writes to me, I respond. Thanks so much for getting in touch. I’m just in the middle of …, will get back to you, no later than… Please feel free to contact me anytime if you’re wondering where I am in the process.

Most thank me for the quick reply. I can hear the eagerness in their written words and feel even worse. I won’t be able to find a spot for every enthusiastic soul.

I know this and yet I stall because I’ve convinced myself that somehow I will unearth some way to accommodate everyone. It’s not possible of course. The festival is only a three-day event. How many workshops, readings, and panels can I cram into three days?  Still I’m nothing if not a believer in the impossible.

I will only do five today. Five rejections. That’s all. I persuade myself that this is doable. I can handle that. There are some that will not fit this year’s program. Those will be easy. And besides, I’ll encourage them to apply again next year.

Scanning each email I start with the most recent and work backwards. Then I do the opposite. I find something in each pitch that makes me stop, walk away from my laptop. I need to do more thinking. Could I fit just one more person on that panel on Saturday? What’s one more? We can afford it. No we can’t. Moderators will understand. No they won’t. What’s one more person?

It used to be that I was the one on the receiving end of a Dear Stella letter. I used to send countless invitations to publishers and authors.  Come to Whistler. We are a vibrant literary community. You’ll love it here.

On those occasions when I actually did receive a reply, it was typically a note telling me the author was not available. But over time (15 years but I’m not counting) those who did come told others and slowly we were discovered. Then the pitches began. It was easier when I was on the receiving end of rejection. I think this at times. But I’m not being honest with myself. I do prefer people coming to me. It makes my job easier and obviously harder.

I just don’t like being the one who has to deliver the bad news. The pitches are not simply faceless emails. They are people, authors with infinite hopes.

I place myself in the other person’s shoes. I’m going to ruin someone’s day. I cringe and think about it again. Could I cram in another session with the three already running concurrently? I tell myself to have another think. Maybe it’s possible.

It will be easier tomorrow to do what I have to do. Or maybe the day after. But the emails stare at me even when I’m not at the laptop. The eloquent pitches play over and over in my brain.

I sit down and scroll through them again, gather myself up, tell myself to do the right thing and begin, Dear….thanks again for your patience. I have now completed this year’s festival programming. I’m sorry I can’t offer you a spot…

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