In the midst of a four-day conference on engineering the pitch, I take stock of where I am, in a complex of multi-use studios where others act, dance and sing, an ideal location for a Robert Altman film. The starting point of the conference is a work-shop circle, focusing on editing the pitch, ensuring the set, hook, complications, plot points and cliff hangar are in place, re-writing that again and again until the essence of my bad side is razor sharp or dead. The second and third days are devoted to pitch sessions, the first done in front of the group, the second and third in one-on-one speed meetings with my group leader as coach. There is a lot of sitting and staring, waiting for the door to open and my chance to go in. And when that comes – in the room for a second, maybe two – I can’t remember any of it except that I had said something about not wanting to change my sex and then went on about the wonder of science fiction, which my book isn’t, in other words, the bits that I would like to have back. Another session awaits, another chance to shine or collapse, and of course regret everything in the end.