I started my first novel at fourteen. It was about two sisters who loved to snowboard. The older sister joined a snowboarding competition and the younger sister tagged along during all of the preparation and the practicing. But during a practice the older sister broke her leg, and she encouraged the younger sister to take her place in the competition. I’m not sure what happened next because I didn’t finish it, but I assume the younger sister kicked butt and made her older sister proud.
Then I discovered the awesomeness that is world-building, and between the ages of fifteen and eighteen I worked tireless on a fantasy. To this day, I return to that fantasy. To this day, I work tirelessly on that fantasy.
Since then, I’ve written six novels (not including the revised versions of said novels). All different genres: literary, sci-fi, a paranormal, and a horror.
Short stories, blogs, poems, and a novella.
A published short story in a magazine. A published article online. A minor in English.
My dream from the start was to be an author. A books on the shelves kind of author. The sits behind a desk and signs her name with a fancy fountain pen kind of author. The author with an agent, with a contract, with a bright future. I remember how excited I was when I sent out my first snail mail with an SASE inside. I was even excited when I got it back, a rejection slip inside. I held the paper to the light and said: “this was in New York City.”
But I’m almost thirty and…I am not an author.
And you know what? I’m not all that bummed about it. Because not only is writing more to me than becoming–published or not, we are still writers after all–but I know so much more now than I did then.
Sixteen years of writing = sixteen years of
I’ve been rejected.
I’ve been accepted.
I’ve learned how to write a bad query.
I’ve learned how to write a bad synopsis.
I’ve had an agent ask for more.
I’ve received a form letter.
I’ve written something decent.
I’ve learned why I hate writing.
I’ve learned why I love every minute of it.
For those of us pursuing a career in traditional authordom, the road is unpaved, uneven, and our shoes were worn to threads ages ago. But I believe it’s in the blisters and painful treks that we learn who we really are. We learn to press on through the pain. We learn to avoid the sharp stones and potholes. We learn how to make new shoes with only a pair of leaves and some twine.
We learn. We learn. We learn.
And when we finally “make it,” we’ll be able to look back at that angry road and say: “holy crap. I walked that.” Would the goal be as meaningful if we’d taken a plane? Screw that. Give me those leaf boots.
I won’t be an author by thirty, but if could talk to 14-year-old Lina I would tell her to keep writing.
I would tell her to never, ever stop.