Dear Me a thousand years ago (give or take a few seconds),
When I first heard about the Write Path, I knew I wanted to write this blog post (and I give permission for it to be used in the eBook compilation) and I’m excited that this also my 400th blog post (see the party below before you leave cuz there are prizes!).
I knew I wanted to be an author a long time before I started to seek publication. Okay, I probably didn’t know when I was a baby, but I see I looked worried, so maybe I did.
So, if I could actually write to Past me, here is what I’d say:
Am I glad you didn’t know what was ahead? Maybe a little. Becoming a published author is a lot like getting married. Or becoming a mother. Or getting old…
- You don’t know much.
- You don’t know what you don’t know.
- And you don’t believe the people who do know.
- It’s both harder and more wonderful than you expected
Past Me, I know you probably wouldn’t have tried this if you hadn’t stumbled onto Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. You found it in the local library, one of only two writing books on the shelves way back then. I forget the title of the second book (thankfully) because it was awful and negative and particularly dismissive of women authors. Brande’s book was an invitation to explore and try. It gave you the courage to begin. When it re-released, you bought a copy. Even now I only have to look at the cover and feel my spirits lift. So good find, me of then.
Fast forward through many painful starts and crappy writing (wow, don’t you wish you had that remote and could fast forward?), through some playwriting that was both fun and still helpful, pause for my first and second sale with actual money exchanging hands (yay!), to the early 90’s when:
- The first Gulf War
- The television show Scarecrow and Mrs. King
- My Muse
- The Internet
…intersected with your life and got mixed up inside your head. The result was your first completed novel (Pig in a Park, eventually retitled The Spy Who Kissed Me) and your first exposure to actual published authors. Past Me, you weren’t always grateful, but Present Me is grateful for each and every one of them who offered advice. I wish you’d listened to them (see believe the people who do know). It took some whacks upside the head (i.e. rejection letters) before you did begin to believe them. I can still remember your shock and your awe (see first Gulf War – grin) when you began to really understand what you’d gotten yourself into.
Would it have changed that much if you’d believed? Probably not. But you might not have picked that first agent because she had on this awesome denim dress on when you met her. Though it was a great dress. And what happened wasn’t her fault. Or yours.
Advice You Should Have Listened to:
- Don’t pick an agent because they will take you. Or because of what they are wearing. In other words:
- Don’t be desperate. You don’t make good decisions when you’re desperate.
- Even a good agent might not be right for you. Or she might work for someone who is a nightmare. Or you’re just the wrong fit. It happens.
- Yes, you are running a business, even when you think you’re not.
Advice I’m Glad You Didn’t Listen to:
- Everyone who told you “you can’t do that because…”
This is a business ruled by “that’s how it’s always been done…” Past Me, I’m glad you weren’t. That you did it your way, even when it was swimming against the current. For a really long time.
Some things I’m glad you did:
- Went digital with Pig in a Park when everyone you knew told you that first books never get published and you should shove it in a box under the bed…
- Didn’t put any of your books in a box under the bed. Past Me, you finished them all. 🙂
- Went with Five Star to get into hardcover, even though the break up was messy (you learned a lot and only got singed from that adventure in publishing…)
- Went with Hard Shell and L&L Dreamspell
- Extra glad you went Indie last year
If I could change one thing, Past Me, I wish you’d gone indie (self published) at least a year sooner than you did. Having access to actual sales figures has been one of the most liberating and useful things an author can have (besides getting paid every month). For the first time in my thousand year (give or take a few minutes) journey, I can see what works and what doesn’t. I’m not throwing things against the wall and not ever seeing if they stuck. I’m able to plan ahead and adjust my writing schedule to what’s actually happening with my sales.
Past Me, the one thing I have never, ever regretted is becoming a writer. I love every novel I’ve written and I am so grateful for the people who have helped me along the way—people who didn’t hold it against me when I didn’t believe them, btw.
And I’m grateful to the real readers who have stuck with me, too. Their reviews and encouragement—or just simply buying my books—has helped me keep going when the Muse was tired and my Life Happened. (And thank you to my awesome family and friends who didn’t have me committed…)
I’ve found that non-writers look at writing and either think “I could do that,” or they think “I could never do that.” Explaining what I do to either of them is a lot like explaining parenting or marriage or fill-in-the-blank-with-a-hard/wonderful-thing that you do. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting paid for doing something I love, but I would write—I did write—for free for a long time. And I kept writing for “piffilous” pay (thank you Dr. Suess!). I’m glad Past Me hung in there. It got better.
Oh, and Future Me, don’t ever forget that you’ll need to love storytelling if you’re going to keep doing this. But if you can save yourself, you probably should. It’s a mad-bad-insane-wonderful-addictive business to be in. I know, you couldn’t then, can’t now, so Future Me, welcome to crazy. Again. 🙂
Here’s a custom tweet for you about the Write Path and the party. 🙂 :
“Dear Me a 1000 yrs ago or My Write Path and a Blog Party! http://wp.me/p2wY7X-HX #perilousp #giveaway #books”
And now for the party! I’m celebrating my 400th blog post and getting ready to publish project #20 at the end of the month. And I’m celebrating firsts, because without firsts there wouldn’t be seconds and so on.
So, for everyone who visits and comments the rest of the month—on any blog post— you will be entered into a drawing for — drum roll please — one of FIVE digital (epub or mobi) copies of The Spy Who Kissed Me, my FIRST novel and FIVE AnaBanana gift baskets ($25 value), which is FIRST in awesome and you’ll for sure to want SECONDS.
I’ll announce the winners in my May 30th blog post! And thank you for stopping by to celebrate some milestones with me!
“. . . . a remarkable new talent . . “ RT Book Reviews
The Spy Who Kissed Me was the first digital-only book to be nominated for an RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award. It also won a Dorothy Parker Award.
Comment to win or buy it now from your favorite online book seller.
Available in digital and audio!