WHOA. Last week a reader pointed out that five years ago I wrote a letter “from” my 29-year-old (published) self to my then 24-year-old (still-dreaming) self and posted it on my blog.
That was right before I started writing The Lunar Chronicles.
And it’s… UNCANNY.
A Letter from My Future Published Self
Dear 24-Year-Old Alicia,*
You have a lot of work ahead of you.
But don’t be daunted! I’m writing to tell you that now, as I near age 30, I am at the happiest place in my life. I am officially a full-time writer. I have published the entire Lunar Chronicles series (yes, the one that you’re about to embark on for the 2008 nanowrimo), and the advances and royalties have enabled me to quit the editorial field and focus completely on writing. I have earned a devoted fan base in the YA realm with this series and every day I am overjoyed by the comments and appreciation I hear from readers. I am just about finished with the first draft of the first book of a whole new series. I won’t tell you what it’s about because the spark of inspiration would be too much for you to handle at this tumultuous time in your life—but it’s going to be awesome.
Right now you’re thinking that it’s all going to go fairly smoothly. You know your plots and are eager to write them. You’re not daunted by revisions. You’re not afraid of rejection and even looking forward to the submission process. But remember that every writer pays their dues at the beginning of their career, and you will face rejection. But stick with it and one day the books will sell… and that’s just the beginning. Keep in mind all the things you’ve learned while getting your degree: the importance of author marketing and publicity, keeping your readers happy, building your platform, and always keep writing. When you begin to doubt yourself, just remember how happy you are when you’re writing, how much you love it, and the passion will fall back into place.
The idea is to keep setting goals and deadlines for yourself—you know that these are the keys to motivating yourself. You have the goal of submitting a novel by Dec. 31, 2009. Stick to that goal. Don’t let yourself forget it or be swayed from it. Work toward it every day, whether that is by writing, revising, editing, working on your proposal, researching the market, or reading about how to submit works to agents.
It’s going to be tough, but you can do it. And by the time you’re my age, you’ll be glad you did. And you’ll have that whole writing career ahead of you to be grateful.
* Alicia was my penname when I wrote fanfiction.
Weird, right? So much of this came true. Though the Chronicles aren’t all out yet, they’re well on their way and I do have both a new stand-alone book and a potential new series in my brain. I am a full-time writer. I am so grateful. Though my goal of submitting by the end of 2009 didn’t happen (I started querying Cinder in September of 2010), it was close enough.
So—self-fulfilling prophecy? The value of envisioning your ideal future? I don’t know, but whatever it was, it worked. Maybe give it a try yourself!
On a side note…
Also included in that blog post were these lists, which were very interesting to read five years down the line, and still remain pretty accurate to this day:
My Motivations for Writing
– To give readers the giddy, romantic, delirious, daydreamy feeling that my favorite books and movies gave me
– To craft amazing characters that I fall in love with and want to spend time with and share with others
– To someday work from home and not deal with corporate life or the commute, and have more time for gardening and cooking and being there for the children I will someday have
– All of the wonderful comments from fanfiction readers
– To prove to the naysayers that I am a good writer and I will be successful at it
– To meet readers all over the country and know that I was able to influence their lives in any small way
– The enjoyment of writing, the joy of solving that tricky plot twist, the delight of having all the subplots miraculously come together and resolve themselves
– Going to writing conferences as a professional, perhaps even a speaker, not just a hopeful amateur
Fears That Keep Me from Writing (and ways to work around them)
– fear of running out of ideas (keep a writer’s journal; brainstorm)
– fear that my work won’t be up to standards (you can always rewrite, but you need to write first; it is not your job to decide what is good)
– fear that I’ll have success and won’t be able to repeat it (let’s do this one book at a time…)
What a fascinating little time-capsule. Feel free to share your own dreams, motivations, and fears in the comments!