I’ve been a writer for eleven years now. (Don’t do the math. It’s embarrassing.) In those eleven years, I have learned many things. Among them:
- You should not send your entire manuscript to an award-winning author even if they have befriended your high school self and gave you their email address. That’s not why they gave it to you.
- Sometimes those with more experience are wrong about your work. (Most of the time they are probably right, but sometimes their not.)
- Read the classics. If you don’t want to do that, it is because you live under a rock where you’ve believed they are boring your entire life. You’re wrong. They are not boring.
- Liking boys just because they said they like to read is an okay thing to do. Believing you will one day marry a boy just because he says that is an ill-informed belief.
- Sometimes you will like your made-up people better than your real-life people. That’s okay for a couple hours, but don’t make that a permanent state of being.
- You should send your first three chapters to the kid in your fiction workshop class who is unexplainably excited about what you’ve written.
- You should also ask the girl who sits next to you in that workshop about her opinions on your characters, especially since she’ll still talk to you after reading what you’ve written. They are both good eggs and will be some great cheerleaders.
- Don’t get discouraged when older writers get published when they’ve been doing this a shorter time than you. You’re 18 and you’ve got time.
- Go to the conference your professor recommends. It’s going to change your whole perspective on the calling you’ve been given.
- Don’t let the guy who doesn’t think art is a valid life calling get you down. But also stop dating him. First boyfriends aren’t supposed to be last boyfriends anyway. There are plenty of other mistakes to make once college is over.
- Someone’s opinion on Oxford commas is a good litmus test for starting a friendship (namely, if they have one.)
- Writing is hard and sometimes the time isn’t there and sometimes the words aren’t there. Don’t freak out. It will not always be hard. You will learn to make the time. The words will return. Breathe in, breathe out. That’s all you’re in control of.
These are just a few of the pitfalls and strange lessons of my writing journey that I’m celebrating. I owe a lot of these lessons to the Breathe Conference and the community I have come to know and love through it.
We celebrate the conference’s tenth anniversary this year and I want to invite you in to that. If you are on a writing journey, let’s celebrate it on October 7 & 8. James Scott Bell will be there as will a whole other host of great writers.
Register today and I’ll see you there!