Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Letter to Future Self
Krisin Creative has issued a challenge to write a letter to your future writing self. I planned on doing this a while ago and never got around to it, so I'm glad to have this motivation.
It was actually my husband's idea. We were on our way back from the Oxford Conference for the Book and I had just met Tea Obreht. (This was right before we ran over the dog.) I was so excited about the experience, I was barely coherent when I talked.
I told my husband, "I know some writers complain about how they shouldn't have to put themselves out there and advertise their work and they're too introverted to socialize, but I love this. I love meeting other authors, and I'm going to love book signings and readings and interviews and book tours. This was the most fun I've ever had, and I want to do it forever!"
Andrew said, "You might not feel this way forever. You need to write it down so you can always keep focused on why you're doing this."
He's absolutely right. So:
Dear Famous Version of Teralyn,
If everything about my life has gone according to plan, you're a very busy author with four kids and a good marriage. But I know how unpredictable life can be and how things don't always happen the way you want them to. I hope this letter is regardless of where you are in life.
You'll have days when you wish you could get away from being an author and mother. I hope you never forget how excited I am for everything. I'm excited about fan mail and positive reviews, and I'm excited about baby food and driving to soccer games. I hope you always love children and you always love meeting writers and spreading your experience everywhere you can reach.
It's all about the writing. I love literature. I love that feeling when I read over a chapter I wrote and it's dripping with awesomeness. When I have a good writing day, I swell and burn. Don't ever lose that.
Family comes first. Don't have fewer kids or use day care just to get more popular. Keep your standards for motherhood, no matter the cost. When you go to heaven, you can't take your book with you, but you will always have your family.
Remember: it's just a book. It will only take people ten or so hours to read, and then they'll move on. It won't change anyone's life except mine.
Always get better. Improve your craft. I don't care if you're 60 years old and you have awards under your belt; I want each book to be better than the last. I hope you have an agent and editor who push you to the next level, and I hope your readers have high expectations. Never get lazy.
Give back. Support every author you interact with. I want to give people the impression that when they meet me, good things will happen. Be generous with money.
From where I am right now, it's hard to imagine you will ever become disillusioned. It's hard to believe you might not have children or you might not get published or you might publish your books and not be able to sell them. Remember that a failed career does not equal a failed life. You can find something else to define you.
Finally -- and this is probably the most important thing I want you to remember --
Writing is fun!
When it's no longer fun, stop and reevaluate your priorities.
As my drama teacher used to tell me: Go forth! Be brilliant!