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.
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.