Ever since I could read, I’ve wanted to be a writer and tell my own stories. With the release of Someone Found, my third novel and fifth published book, earlier this month, I’ve been feeling very reflective. I am nowhere close to figuring things out. However, now that I’ve got several years of storytelling under my belt, there are a few things I’d love to be able to go back and tell my aspiring-writer self.
If you’re an author, what do you wish you’d known as a young writer? If you’re not an author, what’s one thing you wish your younger self knew about life? Relationships? Your profession? Faith?
Some things I’d pass along to my younger self are lessons I wish I’d learned earlier in life. Others would have encouraged me along the way. If you’ve ever been curious what writers wish they’d known, or if you’re an aspiring author yourself, here’s a little peek into some of my recent reflections.
- It won’t go as planned, and that’s part of the plan. In high school, I excelled in AP English classes, was editor of my school newspaper, and was published regularly in a weekly teen section of The Orlando Sentinel. Naturally, I expected to be a published novelist within a few years of graduating college, if not before. Then, I married young, went to graduate school, started a full-time job, had a baby, and made a few big moves around the country. It wasn’t until I was 33 years old that I sat down to even write the first draft of my first novel. Things definitely did not go according to my plan. Now, at the age of 40, however, I can clearly see the path God had paved for me and my writing journey. My timing wasn’t His timing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
- It will be hard, but it will be worth it. Sixteen-year-old Teresa sitting in her room with a worn copy of Pride and Prejudice at her side as she scribbled in her notebook envisioned adult Teresa wearing stylish clothes, sitting all day in a quiet, sophisticated coffee shop typing her latest manuscript whilst sipping bottomless lattes. Reality is, I most often write in the late evenings in my small hybrid office/guestroom while wearing clothes splattered with remnants of whatever dinner I cooked that night, lukewarm decaf coffee, and frequent interruptions. But I’d also tell my younger self, “You won’t want it any other way.” Holding my books after knowing the hard work, long hours, and sacrifice it took to get them done is completely satisfying.
- You’ll measure success in more ways than just sales. While I do pay attention to sales and greatly appreciate every single book purchased, I have found more fulfillment in connecting with the people who buy them. You readers have made this experience so rich and overwhelmingly rewarding. You give me story ideas, teach me where I can make improvements (always in a nice way, thankfully), and sometimes make me feel like a rock star just by leaving sweet little comments on Facebook or Instagram. I’m not on any New York Times Best Sellers list and Hallmark hasn’t called (yet!) to turn any of my books into a movie. But I’ve said, “Here I am Lord,” every time I’ve felt inspired with a story idea. I’ve stuck with it when it got really, really hard. And I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone to keep learning and growing. Success!
As the sayings go, hindsight is 20/20 and we learn with age. In many ways, being a published writer looks very different than I imagined when I was young. But, despite the differences and challenges, it’s better than I ever dreamed.
Now it’s your turn. What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?