Thursday, August 6, 2015

"This is her first novel."


     The other night I was reading one of my favorite books, A Room of My Own, by one of my verrry favorite writers, Ann Tatlock. When I'm feeling especially tired of uncreative, I usually remedy the condition by revisiting some of my old favorite books. It almost alllllways helps. :-D Anyway, I was reading the author bio in the front, and I read this line:

     This is her first novel.

     That really hit me.

     Ann Tatlock was already an adult when she wrote that book. She had gone to college, she was married, she had done all these things, probably a lot of which had lead up to this huge event in her life. She'd probably been writing since she was a kid, but she didn't get her first book published until she was halfway through life.

     So....what's the big deal, you say? Well, let me tell you something.

     I'm a writer. You all know this. I write a lot, though not as much as I'd like to. I've been writing stories since I was knee-high to a grasshopper -- some good ones, some not-so-good ones, some that make me groan to even recall them. I've started many, many manuscripts that I hope will grow into novels one day. I've been working on one in particular for over a year now. But, besides the little stories I wrote when I was younger, I have never finished any sizable manuscript that I can actually call a book. Not one. My desk is full of loose papers, story beginnings, even some well-planned-out ones, but nothing has ever reached a point where I can say, this is finished. I'm happy with this. This is good.

     Nothing.

     It's been my dream to write books since forever. And I dream big; I want to be published by a real publishing company, and I want to see my books on the shelf of libraries all across the country someday. No, the world. I want to be a real, honest-to-goodness, published author. But sometimes, it's hard to believe that it will ever come true.

     You see, folks, as of now I'm a terrible writer. It's true. My plots are scattered, my characters sometimes say stupid things, and I use waaaaayyyy more adjectives than anyone wants to plow through. What's even worse, I don't always make the time to write as much as I want to -- as much as I feel like I need to. And that stresses me. It makes me feel less than adequate. It makes me feel like a dismal failure. Frankly, it makes me feel like a terrible writer. I've said it to myself many times: "I'm a terrible writer."

     But you know what? OF COURSE I'm a terrible writer. I'm learning. I'm sixteen. So many times I have to slow down and remind myself: there's no hurry! Why are you rushing, Emma? Why are you getting so tense about this? Why are ya bein' so stupid?

     Being in a community of writer-bloggers, I hear all the time about young writers who are self-publishing their books, and it's such a big deal. Whenever I read about some girl publishing a book I think, "oh my goodness, look at that girl. She's like freakin' seventeen, and here she is publishing a novel. All her dreams have come true. I wish that was me." And then I sink into a little rabbit-hole of longing and self-pity while I turn bright green and slowly morph into a cookie monster.

     This is not the right attitude, folks. I admire anyone who writes a novel, and getting it published is something huge indeed. But the plain truth is, I'm not that girl who signed a publishing contract when she was fourteen and is cranking out books by the dozen. I'm just...not. Some people are slower at realizing their dreams, and I'm definitely one of those. I work at it, but not constantly. I'm still a kid. I honestly don't want to write ALL the time. I want to pick blueberries with my cousins and go to rodeos and watch movies and play with baby bunnies. I want to live this part of my life fully, while it's here. So if that means I'm not going to finish my novel as soon as I might if I slaved over it all hours of the day...well, okay, fine, so be it. I'm in no huge rush. If it's meant to happen, it'll darn well happen. If God wants me to write a book, then you can bet your bottom dollar I'll write that book.

     I don't want to self-publish my books when I'm still in my teens. (I don't want to self-publish my books at all -- but I won't start on all the reasons why I think self-publishing is lame.) I've already decided I'm going to try and get my first novel published by a real publishing company, and if it takes a long time, why then I'll wait. Dreams don't come in a bushel basket. And if I don't publish my first novel until I'm old and married -- well then, I guess that's okay too. Maybe Ann Tatlock experienced some of the same restless anxiousness as I do. Maybe she had trouble sitting down and putting her mind to her story. Maybe she wanted to play with her baby bunnies instead. Maybe -- shock of all shocks -- maybe I'm not the first writer to feel like this! And maybe, just maybe, if I keep dreaming and praying and wishing and trusting and writing, it'll happen sooner than I think.

     What I keep telling myself is, it doesn't all have to happen NOW.

     And slowly, myself is starting to listen.


16 comments:

  1. This is such a lovely post, Emma. I can so relate! I've never finished a story in my life except a little ten chapter story written when I was around 11, which was pretty mediocre. (I threw it away because I had an idea for the first sentence of another story, which I thought would be much better! Ha ha!)

    Loose papers in your desk filled with little story snippets? Oh my, yes. I've got tons of those. And too many adjectives? I know, right? I have a terrible problem with stuffing too many words into a sentence. It's awful!

    Oh, and that feeling of failure...I don't know how many times I've wailed to one or other of my siblings, "I'm such a terrible writer!" What can you do? You can't stop writing, so you keep pressing on and hope that with time and practice you'll improve. :) And you do.

    Wow! Sixteen sounds so young to me. I use to dream about publishing a novel when I was a teenager. But it really doesn't matter what age you are. You've got a very good start, Emma, and you're only going to get better. And you're so right, it doesn't all have to happen NOW! Enjoy life, enjoy writing. Too much pressure to achieve your dream can suck the joy out of everything.

    Good post, Emma! And someday I hope to see one of your novels in our local library! :)

    ~Miss March

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    1. Miss March, thank you so much for your comment!! :-) I am slowly (but steadily) learning these things. That is SO true -- too much pressure totally sucks the joy out of everything. Not good. No, it really doesn't matter what age you are -- I used to be all gung-ho to publish my book before I turned twenty, but now I'm content to wait as long as it takes. (Easier said than done, but hey, I'm trying!)

      And oh, I hope you find one my novels in your library someday!!!

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  2. *sniff* This is beautiful, Emma! I feel like this too sometimes. I enjoy writing poetry off and on, and there are a few possible novel ideas floating around in my noggin, but overall…I feel, at times, that I should be writing more. But then, like you said, I want to enjoy this season of my life! I don't always want to write. So it's encouraging to know that someone else feels this way at times:D

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  3. I absolutely loved reading this post! I completely understand what you mean, although I hadn't really thought about it. You worded it wonderfully, too. :-) I love to write stories, poems, letters, in my journal - just about anything I can get my hands on, and though my dreams are not to become a world-known author (though that WOULD be amazing!) I still happily write away to my heart's content. And I struggle like every other writer....there is always a time when you are feeling too lazy or 'bleh' about writing, how you have written yourself into a corner and can't find the door to get out. But I love to read about how other girls around my age are exactly the same. It's SO encouraging. :-)
    Anyway, I'll end my spiel as I'm sure plenty of other people have said it before me. :-)
    ~Miss Meg March

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    1. Miss Meg, it's so great that we can encourage each other in this!! :-)

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  4. THIS POST IS SO AMAZING. I CANNNNNOT EVEN.

    Firstly, YOU'RE NOT A TERRIBLE WRITER. I mean, hey, if you're a terrible writer, what am I? (And duh, this blog post was terrificly written. You really are too hard on yourself. Sure, you can always improve, but you're NOT terrible. You're awfully talented and good. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, darling. :-))

    I've been thinking stuff like this also recently. While I HAVE finished books and self-published them on this website no-one knows of (just so I can have my book all real and printed out, y'know) I'm happy to - like you said - still Be a learner.

    Goodness, this post made me happy. :-)

    ~ Naomi

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    1. Naomi, first let me hug you and weep on your shoulder and thank you for being the bestest best friend in the universe. :-)

      Okay, now that we've done that we can move on to other things.

      Haha. I really am sort of a terrible writer -- you haven't read everything I've written, dear. ;-P But I'm okay with that now. Learning is exciting. One day I'll be an amazing writer. You will too. :-)

      And goodness, I hope I didn't offend you at all with my comment about self-publishing. I get that, of course-- wanting to have your book real and printed-out so others can read it -- but for SERIOUS publishing, I don't like the self-publishing method at all. I have sworn to never self-publish my books. It just seems...half-baked, unprofessional, to me. But I don't judge other people who do it. (Well, not usually.) ;-P

      I'm glad it made you happy. It made me happy to write it. :-)

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    2. Nope, you didn't offend me. You rarely do, haha. :-)

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    3. And I STILL think you're SO NOT a terrible writer. You're too hard on yourself. :-)

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  5. Oh, Emma, I relate with pretty much everything you said in this post. (Okay, except for the part about self-publishing being lame. :P I hope to self-publish my book when I finish it. But, that's okay if you don't. You dream of being a world wide published author--which is great!--but I can't say I have that dream yet. I'd be so over-the-moon-happy to finish my book and make it the best I possibly can, then have my friends and family read it.)

    And the whole "unfinished manuscripts"....YES. I have so so so many notebook pages filled with "books" that never lasted more than half of a 70-page notebook. The shortest have been, like, two pages, haha.

    And don't think you're the only one who thinks you're a terrible writer. I hold that prize. ;) I like to think that for every page I write, I have about one really good line. The rest is all rubbish that needs to be edited within an inch of its life, haha. But...I suppose that's kind of what writing is all about sometimes isn't it?

    I too can get discouraged when I see or hear of other bloggers publishing their books at very young ages....but then I have to remind myself that just because it takes me longer to achieve something, does NOT mean it's not as good. Or that I'm not as good. My life and everything I do is going to be different from other people's-and that's okay. It's the way it should be. :)

    I really hope you succeed in your writing dream, Emma!!

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    1. Natalie, oh, it's always refreshing to hear from someone who RELATES. :-) Yes, yes, all the way. Thank you so much for your encouraging words!

      And I'm totally going to quote your line about "rubbish that needs to be edited within an inch of its life", just so you know. :-D

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    2. Hahaha, I'm so flattered! Not even a published author yet and I'm already being quoted. ;)
      Thanks! heehee

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  6. Emma, I know exactly how you feel!! But listen, you're actually way way way ahead of where I am--you're sixteen and you've already got a book that you've been working on for a year. Whereas I'm twenty-one and I just started my first novel three mere months ago :)
    You have lots and lots of time--more time than I do, haha!--to realize that dream of yours. Just keep trying!

    And really, like Naomi said--you really are a good writer. Your blog posts are proof positive of that :) When I'm reading over the completed chapters of my own novel, they seem so DRY that I'm almost ready to weep--but then my younger sister tells me not to be ridiculous, they really are good, and I've just been working on them way too long. So, you know, sometimes it's hard to judge your own work properly.

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  7. Wow. This post helped me SO much! I'm a writer as well, though I've only been at it about a year. Bushels of thanks for writing this up, Emma. I needed it. :)

    Ah yes, too many adjectives. Been there, done that. ;) Yet sometimes I have the opposite problem- feeling like I used he same ol' word over and over. And over. ;-)

    Thanks for posting this Emma. =)

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    1. Faith, aww, you're so welcome! I needed to write it. :-)

      Oh, adjectives! They can bog one down so much! But then, they're so deliciously fun. You just have to learn how to use them. ;-P

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