I want to be a writer when I grow up.

I said this to myself when I was about eight.  I remember it really clearly because we learned to write haiku in third grade and I had so much fun playing around with the syllables, even though I'm sure my attempts were pretty terrible.

My eight-year-old self has her wish, but there are a few things I wish I could tell her at the moment of that revelation, just to prepare her:

Dear Small Self,

Writers spend a lot of time not writing, or at least not writing books.  Some of it is related to writing books, though.  There are edits and outlines and synopses, where you write the whole book in five pages before you write it in four hundred.  Yeah, I know.  You still have to do it.  There's something called social media for making friends and getting people to learn your name, and you'll find out all about that when the Internet becomes a Thing You Can Play With.  Right now it's just something computer people have.

You'll also spend a lot of time not writing books because, again, someone invented this Internet thing.  There will be strange, amazing, as-yet-unheard-of entities called Twitter and Wikipedia.  Please, don't let these take up too many hours.  That also goes for a thing called an iPad and its very reason for existing, Angry Birds.  It's coming.  Prepare yourself.  (But if you're curious, you're actually pretty good at it.)

Small Self, I have to tell you you're not quite done with the magic of bath crayons.  Oh, you'll find more fun things to play with in the next few years, like skip-its and Dungeons & Dragons and boys, but, in the end...bath crayons.  You'll need them because your best, most creative ideas will come in the shower, and you'll work your way out of that seemingly impenetrable plot tangle while you have suds in your eyes.  Your friends will come over, have a glass of wine, and emerge from the bathroom asking, "Why do your tiles say, 'Speakers = Eggs'?" 

You'll have to answer them.  That, though, is good practice for talking about your work, which you will do with friends, critique partners, agents, editors, the cute tattooed guy who works at your local bookstore.  And I want you to remember that, in big and small ways, these people have your back.  They want to read, sell, and promote your book.  They want you to succeed.  Give them the satisfaction of doing just that.

And, on that note, treasure every hour you get to write.  There'll be times when you can't (see above) and times when it's hard and times when it's easy.  Value them all.  Small Self, you get what you want, and nothing will make you happier.  Trust me on this one. 


3 comments:

Ali Trotta said...

Emma, this is lovely. I suspect our small selves would've gotten along famously. And you've reminded me that I need to get bath crayons.

Beautiful post. I'm so glad that you shared it. :-)

The Comma Nazi said...

This is fantastic. I can picture you saying this to your Small Self. It makes me wonder what I might have told MY Small Self about the career path I have chosen.

You know I will always be one of those who has your back and can't wait to read your book (on paper this time!) and share it with all my friends!

The REALLY Real Curious Crow said...

BATH CRAYONS. That is brilliant!!! I never even thought of them any of the umpteen times I've wished for waterproof paper and pen on a rope. My ideas also start flowing as soon as water hits my head, and I hurry through most of my shower repeating lines over and over and begging my protags to "just wait a minute! Wait, Wait, Wait!" If the wrong person heard me, they'd commit me, I'm sure.

Thank you for saving me from the impending straight jacket! YAY!

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