Pitch Wars Pimp My Bio 2016!

giphy (1).gif

Hello, wonderful person! Welcome to my first-ever Pitch Wars Pimp My Bio blog bio!

I am super excited to be entering the contest this year. This post is your go-to place to find out more about yours truly!

Who I Am

My name is Madison Lessard. I live in a little town about forty miles outside of Boston with my family, as well as a dog who (like me) is very appreciative of food and a cat who pets himself by rubbing against inanimate objects.

giphy (1).gif

I write mostly contemporary young adult. I’ve been an avid writer and reader for as long as I can remember, and this is my first time doing Pitch Wars.

What I’m Writing

The novel I’m submitting for Pitch Wars is a contemporary YA entitled While I’m Here. It follows the summer adventures (and misadventures) of heart patient Casey, who is racing against the clock to make a few months the best of his life.

He wakes up in the hospital on his graduation morning to an unwelcome surprise. His doctor diagnoses him with an irreversible condition that leaves him just a couple more months to live. His immediate reaction? Not so great. Content to spend the rest of his brief life in bed, he confines himself to his bedroom and shuts everyone out.

But a week after his diagnosis, his two best friends present to him a plan for their summer: a very lengthy bucket list, a trip with no destination, and one summer to do as much as they can.

giphy (1)

Casey is sold, and so his last summer begins. There’s just one problem: his parents, who are still coming to terms with losing their son, aren’t so crazy about his ideas. 

And for fun… this is the #novelaesthetics post I made for WHILE I’M HERE.

image

Here are some fun facts about Casey…

  • He is a huge geek about cars, but the one he drives is a disaster. The car itself is almost like a character in the book because Casey is always complaining about it not running right.  

giphy (2).gif

  • He has a form of congenital heart disease called truncus arteriosus in which his heart doesn’t function correctly, and he’s spent weeks of his life at a time in the hospital because of it.
  • He’s extremely headstrong, and once he sets his mind on a goal, he’ll stop at absolutely nothing to get there.
  • His bucket list has 100 things on it, and he started writing it in the fifth grade after a major medical episode that left him near dead.
  • He appreciates blueberry pancakes with syrup and bacon very, very much. 

giphy (3).gif

In addition to While I’m Here, I have several other contemporary YA novels in the early stages, and I have two other complete manuscripts on the backburner right now.  

giphy (1).gif

More About Me

  • I’m a music person. I love to sing and I play three instruments– the clarinet, the piano, and the saxophone. 

giphy (2)

  • I’m a little bit of a geography buff. I have a bunch of (probably unnecessary, but still fun to do) groups of geographical things memorized– including the countries of the world. Try me!

zuarokcao5am6eju4u9v.gif

  • I’ve been a dancer in various types since I was three.
  • I’m a little bit of a musical theatre nerd. 

giphy (3).gif

  • I am a firm believer that almost any problem can be solved by eating a slice of purple velvet cake.
  • I take pictures of everything. I’m serious.

giphy (4).gif

Why do I want to do Pitch Wars?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of my writing life so far, it’s that you never stop improving. My seventh-grade English teacher always used to tell us that a piece of writing is ‘alive’– it can always be changed and get better.

I was introduced to Pitch Wars earlier this year by a previous mentee, and when I learned what it was, I knew I wanted to enter. I’m entering Pitch Wars because I want to improve. I want to learn about deadlines and writing on a tight schedule. I want to edit and revise. I want to connect with someone over my manuscript and make it so that someday, other people will connect with it, too.

But honestly, the biggest thing that has drawn me to Pitch Wars has been the people in the community. Over the course of this summer so far alone, I’ve met so many fantastic people in the writing world. The long road towards publication so far has been downright scary at times, and the amount of support I’ve gotten from other people in the Pitch Wars community (and the writing community in general) has been absolutely inspirational.

I am ready to work hard and meet some more fantastic people! No matter what happens in Pitch Wars, I will look back at this experience when it’s over as one of my greatest lessons in the writing world yet.

giphy (5).gif

I am ready to rock!

giphy (6).gif

Where You Can Find Me

If you want to check out the rest of my blog, you’re in luck! You’re already here– here’s the homepage. My Twitter handle is @oldpbfan21.

Thanks for reading my bio! You can check out the other mentee hopefuls’ bios here.

tumblr_nm83haZGZe1un3pe3o1_400

 

A Student Writer’s Summer

Summer is my prime writing time. This is, firstly, for the obvious reason: that being a student means I have the summer off, and therefore loads more free time than I do during September through June. Somehow I manage to fit more writing into the three months (if that) of summer than I usually do during the school year at all. Last summer, I started from scratch and completely rewrote a draft of my WIP, and I finished it within six weeks. There’s more time to write, more time to refine, more time to plan.

I’ll be honest. I’m one of those students who jam-packs their schedule and does as much stuff as is physically and mentally possible in the school year. It’s not that I would change that about my school life, but the three-month break from having so much to do that summer provides gives me more time to spend on my passion.

In addition, for a student, summer provides the opportunity to go places besides school or other locations in the general area of where you live. My family is going on vacation next week, and we’re visiting a town where one of my WIPs is set. Being surrounded by all the additional experiences and feelings that summer brings is like fuel for my creative process. The other thing I find so unique about summer is that I feel like there is inspiration everywhere I look. When it’s summer, I can take a deep breath and stop to look at the world around me, which doesn’t happen as often when I’m so busy.

All the extra free time lets me write more, and when I write more, I’m inspired more.

I saw this quote on Twitter this morning:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Write every day. Regaining momentum takes three times as much energy as sustaining momentum.<br>DANIEL H. PINK<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/amwriting?src=hash”>#amwriting</a&gt; <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/writing?src=hash”>#writing</a></p>&mdash; Jon Winokur (@AdviceToWriters) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AdviceToWriters/status/742325732131512320″>June 13, 2016</a></blockquote>

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

It’s no secret that when I have more things to do, I write less. Which, as a result, brings my momentum down. The reason I liked the quote so much when I saw it is because I’ve realized that summer keeps my momentum going. When you write more, you have that momentum; you’re able to keep writing more easily.

There’s my spiel on summer. I have a lot planned for this one. Stay tuned to my blog and my Twitter for much more frequent updates than I’ve been giving recently– and I’ll be excited to announce some news for The Voiceprint Project in the next few weeks.

 

Why do I write?

Today I took my last exam of my sophomore year of high school. I guess I can officially be classified as a junior now, but that’s a pretty terrifying thing to think about. The exam was in English. We had to write a reflection on ourselves, the year, and how the general themes in our class affected us. I started writing and then I couldn’t stop. It was natural– I was just writing about writing.

This is a condensed version of what I wrote in my final.

 

I don’t like talking about identity.

This is because it has never been very easy for me to identify myself. As my world changes around me, so my identity changes. There have been times in my life where I feel a very strong disconnection between who I am and who I’m expected to be, and so I feel that way today. I’ve felt that way for most of my sophomore year. I walked through the front doors on my first day at my high school in the fall of 2014 a completely different person than I am today, and I know that in two years, when I’ve graduated, I will likely have changed all the more.  However, the one thing I can say about myself that stays constant is this: I am a writer. I always have been, and I always will be. That is one label that I don’t mind putting on myself. This year allowed me to explore my identity through literature and writing in a way I never have before.

Author Sherman Alexie came to my school do an assembly talk in the fall. I was so excited. I think there’s a part of me that just freaks out at any chance to get to meet a real, published author (because quite frankly, sometimes I forget that those people actually exist and they’re not just names on a book cover, mocking my own current lack of publication). The thing that stuck with me most from his talk was this: he was asked why he writes, and he responded with something along the lines of, “I write to matter.”

That made me start to think about myself. Why do I write? And I eventually came to this conclusion. The reason I write is twofold, but simple. First, I write for self-gratification. There is a part of me that can never abandon the characters and worlds I have made up in my head, and I will always cling to that as a part of my very disheveled identity. Second, I write so other people will read my writing, hear my ideas, get to know my characters and the stories I’ve worked so hard to develop. Like Sherman Alexie, I write to matter. I write to leave my mark on the world, even if that’s in the most miniscule way I can.

This year in my English class, I rediscovered something very valuable– that I have this in common with most writers, published and unpublished alike.

Writing and reading are two of the few things which have stayed constant for me this year. Relating to words on the page and finding myself in characters when I am unable to define myself outside of these walls has been what has kept me grounded. Reading into the themes of depression in Hamlet and lost identity in Tom Stoppard’s drama Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead hit very close to home for me, because I could see parts of myself reflected in those characters. I learned to define myself via characters and literature.

Without question, the thing I read that spoke the most to me this year was The Catcher in the Rye. I had been meaning to read the book for a very long time and never got around to it, so I jumped at the chance when we had an independent reading assignment. To make an understatement, I absolutely loved the book. J.D. Salinger’s writing was stunning in that everything Holden Caulfield was narrating seemed so very real to me, despite the fact that he is a fictional character. He was so vivid. I know now why the book is considered a classic. The themes are universal– depression, lost purpose, judgement of others, disconnection, internal struggle. I felt like I was living the book.

In a way, even though I will admit that existential dread is not my favorite feeling in the world, connecting myself to characters written by other writers and knowing that I am not alone has helped me persevere. I think something that is often overlooked about writing is that it is largely about connection. It’s about letting others know that you feel what they feel. Writing makes me feel connected; reading reassures me. It’s a circle.

This August will mark two years since I started writing my first novel. It’s also been over a year now since I started sending query letters to literary agents. I’ve learned– in a quite pessimistic way at times– that the publishing industry is unpredictable, subjective, and full of inevitable rejection. One day there are ten rejection letters in your inbox, and the next, someone wants to read your whole manuscript. I’m planning a lot for this summer in the writing world– revisions, more queries, blogging, starting new work. Last night, I was reading over my latest manuscript, While I’m Here. I wasn’t doing a close read, so it wasn’t exactly very hardcore; I was just skimming and taking out things that I thought were unnecessary. While I was reading, my subconscious was bombarding me with questions: what if I’m not good enough? What if I’m too young? What if the reason I keep getting rejected is because I can’t be good enough?

The questions were fleeting, and they terrified me.

But here’s the bottom line. Those questions and that fear– they’re the existential dread. It’s almost a little beautiful in a way. If I went through life without ever questioning anything, there would be nothing to think about. I’m convinced that writers are some of the most existentially conflicted people on the planet. It’s part of what makes those underlying themes so powerful, even if they’re not necessarily existential. Those intense feelings within a writer’s world are what shape the stories that get written on the page.

I can do this. I have confidence. And just as long as being a writer is part of my identity, I know I will overcome those struggles and come out triumphant on the other side. One day– even if it’s not tomorrow or next week or even a year from now– I will be a published author. One day, people will know my message. One day, I am going to matter.