Monday, 19 May 2014

How I found the Write Path

 I'm taking part in this fantastic blogfest put together by the awesome Carrie Butler! Carrie is compiling letters from writers at all stages of their publishing journey, for a free e-book aimed at writers just starting out!

Please write a letter/note to yourself when you first started writing toward publication. The only thing I ask is that you keep it under 800 words, including as many (or as few) of these elements as you like:
   - A lesson you learned the hard way
   - Something you didn’t expect about the industry (positive/negative)
   - A writing-related resource you could never do without now
   - One thing you’d change about your journey
   - One thing you’re glad you did
   - Your number one tip for pursuing publication
   - Anything else you feel is worth passing on
   - The name you wish to be credited as
   - The title (if any) you wish to follow your name, i.e. author of the series
   - One major link where people can find you, i.e. website, blog, Twitter, etc.
   - Whether or not you give me permission to use your entry in the e-book compilation. Don’t feel bad if you don’t want in. We’d still love to read what you have to say!

So: this is my letter to Past Emma, who was just setting out on the bumpy journey of writing for publication...

Dear 2010 Emma,

This isn’t going to be an easy journey. I think you know that already. The world’s already conspiring to stop you starting that novel. Every day that passes makes you grind your teeth with frustration. Time feels like it’s slipping away.

Here’s a secret: there is no time limit. There is no ticking clock. If you don’t get published before you turn 18, you aren’t a failure.

That creative writing course you set your heart on? It isn’t the end of the world if they don’t offer you a place. You don’t need validation in order to write a novel. You don’t need to belong to a prestigious university course to be published. Writing that portfolio for your application feels like it’s sucking out your soul? That’s your first clue. Write what you want, not what you think other people want. If they only want “serious fiction”, it isn’t the right course for you. Your ideas and quirks and odd stories are what make you unique, and stifling them with a literary voice will kill your passion.

You’re more likely to use your skill at analysing Shakespeare in your writing career than the ability to write a decent seven-line poem in one minute under the watchful eye of an interviewer. So don’t worry about that cringe-worthy mess you scribbled down. No one will remember it. Honest.

Emma, for pity’s sake, please, please don’t think it’s a good idea to snail-mail one submission at a time. Those poor trees!

It’s probably a good plan to think of something witty to say when you ask your creative writing tutor for their advice on submitting your novel for publication and they tell you you’re too young to be thinking about that. Without actually asking what you’re writing about.

The internet will be the best thing that ever happened to you. You’ll discover the wonderful online writing community, find critique partners, and learn more from online articles than from three years of university.

I know you love your characters. I know you love that story. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never love another story again. Yes, many tears will be shed. But it’s a writer’s rite of passage. It isn’t the peak of your writing ability. It’s the cue to move on and try something new. Fill that hole in your life with wonderful new worlds and characters.

*whispers* That notebook you lost down the back of the desk might contain some interesting ideas…

Sometimes you’ll wish you could turn back the clock. Don’t. You’ll learn some hard lessons, but you’ll emerge the stronger for it, and every mistake will teach you something new, and bring you closer to that dream.

2014 Emma

Name & Title: Emma L. Adams,  author of the Darkworld series

Carrie, please feel free to use my entry in the ebook, and thank you so much for hosting this opportunity! :)


  1. So true. There is no time limit. I didn't start pursuing publication till I was in my 30s. Yes, I'm old. I feel like an ugly duck in a swan pond but it doesn't matter. Everyone's path is different and there are probably some good reasons I didn't do this earlier. Not sure what there are though, I leave that up to the universe to reveal. Best wishes to you and thanks for sharing.

    1. Age doesn't matter at all! You're right - everyone's path is different. :)

  2. "Those poor trees!" -- loved it!

    I think it's awesome you started young. (Young is relative, since I'm also over 30.) Naysayers bug the heck out of me. Never tell anyone they are too [insert word here] to do anything. It's not their business anyways. Bah!

    I'm looking forward to diving into your stories! Happy blogging. :)

    1. Thanks! :) I like to think that people telling me I couldn't do it made me more determined to succeed!

  3. This is so good. I especially love the last paragraph. I'm with Christine -- I started working on my first manuscript in my twenties, but didn't seriously begin pursuing it until 30. I'm now 35 and feel like so many authors, especially highly visible ones on Twitter, are a decade younger than I am. But everyone's path is different, and I wish I could tell my 26-year-old self to quit trying to rush :) Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks! Age absolutely doesn't matter at all - some of the greatest authors weren't published until they were in their 30's. I still feel really inexperienced sometimes!

  4. Fantastic letter to your past self! I still have to remind myself there's no time limit. It's a marathon, not a sprint. :) Have a great week.

  5. wow, your creative writing tutor actually said that? One has to wonder at these supposed mentors.
    I love your last line: every mistake will teach you something new.

    1. Unfortunately! Needless to say, it wasn't what I'd hoped to hear! I definitely feel like I've learned from my (many) mistakes, though!

  6. This letter is awesome, Emma!
    We totally have room in our hearts to love many, many stories. ^_^
    The internet is such a great place, indeed.

  7. There is no time limit. Not at 18. Or at 23. I need to remind myself that always!

    1. Yep - I still have to remind myself sometimes!

  8. Writing a poem in the interview? I wonder why anyone would need that skill... "If you don't write a poem, I'm going to rob this bank!" ??

    The thing you never realise when you're young, is that you have so much more to say as you age. That sounds patronising - I know I would have thought so at 18 - but actually, it turns out to be true!

    1. It was a really weird interview! I have no idea what the purpose was, haha.

      I've found that it's not necessaily age, but experience, that gives you more to say. When I was 18 I had zero life experience, but three years of university, travelling, exploring and learning craft made such a difference!

  9. What a cool idea, and what a great post!

    When I think about the authors who are in my boat (i.e. debuting next year) who are a decade younger, I have to remind myself that when I was 21, I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do with myself and definitely didn't have anything novel-worthy to say. I had to live a little, like you said! But at the same time, I don't begrudge those younger writers their success. No one person's "right time" is the same as someone else's.

  10. I liked your letter. I used to look for outside validation too, and when it didn't come, I thought I wasn't allowed to be a writer. What a waste of years!

  11. I'm glad to hear there's no time limit. I didn't start until I was mid-forties! And soooo true about the Internet and the online community, as this blogfest proves.

  12. Snail mail *snorts* go get that notebook little girl!! This was full of fun tips!

  13. Awesome Emma! Gah remember having to snail mail subs?? That was agonizing.And I love how you mention the writing community. It's a true savior. Can't imagine what it must've been like before internet.
    Thanks so much for participating!!

  14. Ha! The notebook... Funny. I'm glad you found that.

    Before 18? Oh, you lucky girl. For me, it was before 40.

  15. I wish I could find my lost notebook! I started in my late teens...wish I hadn't set it aside for a few decades after!

  16. There is no time limit is so very true. You must do what you need to do and not worry about the clock. Thanks for sharing and best wishes.

  17. No time limit and no classes required! Just a story and tell it well.

  18. That last paragraph was amazing! I need a pep talk like that every day. :D

    Thanks so much for participating! :D

  19. "Here’s a secret: there is no time limit. There is no ticking clock."

    So. Much. THIS! I struggled a long time trying to beat imaginary deadlines and it really stunted my growth as a writer. I focused way too much on getting published instead of just putting my time into becoming a good writer.