Dearest Robyn of eight years ago, *groan*
I recognize the sparkle in your eyes, and that boundless energy coupled with your zest for writing. I notice you have some manilla envelopes on the desk addressed to agents and publishers, too. *shakes a weary head* It might be awhile before you need to worry about mailing those manuscripts off. I wouldn't put a stamp on them just yet.
I can see the excitement on your face when you write and read your stories. You think NO ONE has ever written such beautiful wordage. You believe that the first agent or editor to lay eyes on your stories will JUMP at the chance to sign you to a thirty-year contract. Oh my. Bless your heart, girlfriend. You have a FEW things to learn.
First up, buy a pencil sharpener and a lot of erasers. Purchase plenty of composition notebooks, copy paper (not the thick kind for agent and editors, the Dollar Store brand for printing, reading, and shredding).
Invest in some critique partners and beta readers who for the most part. are as inexperienced as you. Have a couple GO TO peeps who have realized their dreams already. They KNOW way more than you do right now and will happily help you along your merry way. But don't forget to give way more than you get. That's the writerly code. Always pay it forward. It’ll make you feel good even on those days when seven rejections pop into your inbox. Oh, and don't look at me that way. The rejections will come. Please buy writing how-to books, lots of them. If money is tight then just wait and buy SAVE THE CAT. Read every picture book and MG novel you can. Learn the writing terms and abbreviations (you'll thank me for this one), what genre is, and study word count expectations for what you're writing at the moment.
Then the cycle will begin anew. Many, many, many times. Your heart will break with each and every rejection. You'll notice friends snagging agents and book deals. A lot of them will stop emailing and conversing with you. But that's okay. They have their journey, and you have yours. You'll meet new friends, and that's where you'll learn THE code. These new writing pals will be everlasting friends who ALWAYS know the right words to say to bring you back up. They also always give the best critiques because they want your success as much as you do. Pretty cool, huh? I know you can't wait to get where I'm at right now. But remember this. You HAVE to go through the storm to find the rainbow.
Your sunshine, your kaleidoscope will come what may. Through all the hard times, those easy days (when those words won't stop pouring out of you), and the moments when you think you'll never laugh like that again. You will find peace with yourself about this weary/lively road you've taken. There will be rocky times ahead even now. But you want this so bad that you can taste it. It burns inside you. This flame will never be extinguished. So write on. You'll learn so much it will feel like your brain might burst. Never fear. It won't. Keep on keepin' on, you keeper of the writing flame. You WILL have your day in the sun, and it WILL be worth all the toil and trouble, tears, and gut-wrenching pain you'll endure. That's when you will thank me for mailing this letter to you. Now where did I put that stamp?
Picture book and MG author
Robyn Campbell http://robyn-campbell.blogspot.com/
I give my permission for this to be used in the "How I Found the Write Path" e-book
Thanks for reading. What would YOU tell your writing self at the beginning of YOUR journey?