This blog makes me very dizzy at times, but that is nothing compared to the feeling I experienced when my niece told me that she was “honored to meet” me, “an author.” The first thoughts in my head were, “Oh no, I’m blushing. I can’t blush.” Then it hit me. What happens when I actually get published? How will I answer a child’s/teen’s questions about writing, and not say the wrong thing? How will I encourage them? Right then I knew that I had to start thinking about it, because I don’t want to be caught off guard with nothing to say, a speechless phenomenon. I want to be sure they know I am passionate about what I do. How can they know I am passionate about it if I have no response for them when they ask for advice? You can only imagine the thoughts going through my head when my niece shared with me that she is uber excited about writing, that she loves it! Wow! It felt great and if she is reading this I want her to know that she is already on one wild adventure sure to be full of surprises.
Then it occurred to me that I have no publishing credits to my name, other than a poem in an anthology, something I never take credit for because it was, I am embarrassed to say, it was probably a scam. Nonetheless it made me feel like I could do better than that. It made me seek out real resources and this was ages ago it seems. It is a rough road, but I’m still on it. So don’t be afraid of your mistakes, they breed success, but only if you don’t give in to fear first. In order to move forward I had to tell myself, you’re not a writer, you are an author, you may be unpublished today, but tomorrow has possibilities. So this is what I would tell any young budding author now that I’ve simmered down with the possibilities of what to say:
1. Read, a lot, especially the genre you want to write. It should be a meal of delicious batter and icing with a few extra licks of the spoon and nothing left to pop into the oven. Not one chocolate morsel should be left lying around.
2. “Impossible only means I’m possible”– Can’t remember who’s blog that came from but it’s anonymous anyhow.
3. Atonement is important to the writing process if you ever want to be published. You have to forgive yourself for your mistakes.
4. All that matters is that it is FUN! If it is not fun, you are kidding yourself. Your reader will see the red flag and run!
5. You can have your cake and eat it too, just not at the same time so write when you can, LIVE life when you need to. Never let the writing that needs to get done get in the way of someone you love–make time for both or you are not really living. Indulge in life, invest in it, because it is a delicacy you should savor; you should partake every chance you get. “HOW VAIN IT IS TO SIT DOWN TO WRITE WHEN YOU HAVE NOT YET STOOD UP TO LIVE.” ~HENRY DAVID THOREAU
6. Make time for research even if it is your least favorite thing to do. Muster enthusiasm for it! Feast on it. Pretend to like it and eventually you will. Read the boring stuff too, but make it fun. Explore life by testing it out. Have a food fight once in a while, but with permission from mom or dad first. Do silly things and write about them.
7. Invite others to get to know you, you are your own wonder emporium and your life is a story in itself– share it, and you will meet others with the same lofty aspirations as yourself; only then can you encourage each other. Include your teachers, your parents, your leaders/role models/counselors, and your friends in your writing plans. Network until you run on empty. Refuel. Repeat. You will need a support group. Join a critique group when you are ready, but find a good, reliable one.
8. Imagination is paramount. It is the glue that keeps your ideas in place. Never abandon it. Feed it. Care for it, Tuck it in, especially at night just before you dream.
9. Keep a pen and notebook with you at all times and in each room in the house. You never know when an idea will pop into your head.
10. Eavesdrop, a lot. Try not to be rude about it or you’ll never pull it off. People watch. Write down your observations. Do a “sit in” on the location of your book or some similar setting to that of your book, (that is unless it is such a dreadful or faraway place you can only, or should only imagine it) until you have no more questions about it and it feels like home.
11. Your characters will become your BFF’s so don’t put them off or ignore them. Words will become your enemy if you do not get to know them. Learn as many as you can. One a day is an admirable goal but more is always better.
12. WRITE, A LOT. Type until your fingers burn. Stop before they fall off. You need your fingers, trust me.
13. Read your own writing. OUT LOUD. Read it with enthusiasm, in an accent, or any other way you can think of. Role play with your characters. It’s fun really! The whole family can join in.
14. REVISE! A good book is a horribly written thing. A great book goes through a marathon of revisions. Be open to change. It is one of the few constant things in this world.
15. Still Hungry? Here’s some more advice and know how.
What’s your fan phobia? What would you tell them if they asked for your advice?