“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you’ve got something to say.”
~F. Scott Fitzgerald
I still remember my first “book.” It came about as a direct result of my eighth grade English class. Every day, Mrs. Schuster had us spend the first ten minutes working on a journal entry. For Monday through Thursday, it was an assigned topic – sometimes a question, sometimes a prompt, sometimes related to a novel we were reading and sometimes not. Fridays, though, they were my favorites. They were free writes. What began as a journal entry soon blossomed into a story about Jamie and Melanie, twins who were in eighth grade (shocker, yes?) and, if I recall correctly, spent half the time deciding what clothes to wear. Ha. The tale spanned several chapters and ignited a fire in me. Those flickering flames, the joy for writing they sparked, have continued to blaze brighter and brighter. Yes, the journey to get published has been frustrating. Yes, it’s made me feel like throwing in the towel on more than one occasion. Yes, it’s felt like forever. But despite that, the fire is still there. Because of it, the fire is stronger than ever. And so, when my sixteen-year-old cousin (I swear, she was just born … where on earth does the time go?) asked me to read the book she’s been working on for the past few years, I agreed immediately. I wanted to share her passion for the story and for her characters. Now that I’ve finished reading, and she’s asked me some questions on the publishing process, I find myself thinking – if I could give her any advice, what would it be? What would I tell someone whose love for writing is still so fresh and pure?
1. Write the stories that keep you up at night.
2. If you think you can – even when you think you can’t – there’s no limit to all you’ll achieve.
3. First and foremost, write for yourself. Listen to the voice in your head, but listen to the one in your heart, too. Write because you have to, write because you want to, write because you can’t not write.
4. There will be days when the words don’t come as easily. That’s okay. Sometimes there’s a beauty in the block, because it takes you down a road you never would have seen otherwise.
5. Never lose the sense of wonder. That bittersweet excitement you felt when finishing your first book? You’ll feel it time and again, with each “THE END.”
6. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Sometimes the story you’re nervous about writing is the story you need to tell.
7. Write what you know, but also write what you don’t know. It’ll help you grow in ways you can’t imagine.
8. Each character will leave a handprint on your heart. Each book will become your baby. Each story will teach you something and offer a glimpse into a brave new world.
9. Be proud of your work. It’s a part of you, a part of your heart, and no matter what, nobody can ever take that away.
10. Never give up. Never, ever give up. When you find something that sets your soul on fire, it’s worth waiting for, it’s worth fighting for, it’s worth putting yourself on the line for … always.
How about y’all? What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your career footsteps?