If I Had Started Writing Seriously When I Was Younger I Might Be Published Now, But Was The Younger Me Ready To Write a Book? #AmWriting #Writing

#writer

I have been listening to a great writing podcast called Write or Die. It is perfect for writers, like me, who are deep in the querying trenches. If you are struggling with rejection and the journey to publication, listen to this.

Podcast host and author, Claribel Ortega, focuses on the struggle and the suffering with trying to get published in her interviews. All the authors she has on her podcast endured tough and painstaking journeys.

Some of the interviews make your thirty five rejections feel like some kind of fun warm up.

The best episode is the one with author Julie C. Dao. How Julie kept going with her book dream I don’t know! Her epic publication story left me in shock and speechless.

This podcast will inspire and motivate you. I have been busy telling all my writer friends to listen to it and now I am writing about it on my blog.

Some of the authors Claribel interviews started writing seriously at a young age. They wrote their first draft of a book in their late teens and then continued to write seriously before securing agents and book deals.

So this got me thinking. I wrote the first draft of a novel at forty-one and continued to write seriously from that point on (now forty-five).

Why did I leave it so late to start writing seriously?

Did the younger version of me have what it takes to commit to writing and get published?

As a child I wrote stories and as a university student I wrote weekly ten page letters to my mother, recording the comedy highs and lows of my student life. But the idea of being a writer didn’t knock on my door again until my husband had been diagnosed with cancer at twenty-seven and I threw myself into writing a bizarre vampire story set in a retirement home. I deleted all of it, once he got the all clear, as what appeared on paper was not the story in my head.

The writer calling reappeared when I was pregnant with my first child (now a teenager) and I wrote a lot of words in three weeks (a space set romcom), whilst in the throes of morning sickness and an iron deficiency. I shelved the story and the idea of being a writer left me once I moved into the second trimester of pregnancy. There were other things to obsess about like how the hell I was going to push out a large baby and sorting out my daytime TV planner for when the baby was born.

The writer calling went away during my years raising kids and came back after my husband’s mother died unexpectedly. Whilst in the middle of grief I wrote 30k of a story set in India at the start of the nineteenth century. My mother in law had been fascinated by India and so the morning after the funeral, I found myself writing about a girl born in England who was sent away by her family as part of the Fishing Fleet. I shelved that because someone at work made a negative comment about me being a writer and I did not have the personal strength to stand up and say, ‘yes I write in my spare time.’

Then in my late thirties the calling to be a writer reappeared. My husband bought me a writing course at Cardiff University as a Christmas present and I went along with high hopes. After twelve weeks I completed the course and was devastated at the comments the tutor had made on my final assessment. The writer calling was sent packing.

After turning forty I started blogging. A year later I completed writing my first draft of a full length novel.

I then spent three years slowly come to terms with the following:

  • Writing was something I needed to spend hours practicing.
  • First drafts are crap.
  • I have to revise the life out of a story before it is ready to send to an agent.
  • Sacrifices have to be made if I want to be a writer.
  • Writing is one big head mess.
  • Finding the personal strength to tell the world I was a writer was a huge unexpected personal battle.
  • Not everyone likes my writing.
  • There are better writers than me out there.

What if I had carried on writing my space romcom? Obviously that dreadful story would not have led anywhere, but other stuff would have come from that. Where would I be now?

Part of me likes to run away with the idea that in an alternate universe I am published, after years of mastering my craft. The space romcom was a turning point for me and I carried writing through my late twenties and dreams came true in my early thirties, I got the agent and the book deal. Once I allow this part of me to run away with this daydream, I get gloomy and sink into that negative pit of ‘why did I leave it so late to try and get published?’

Another part of me, the sensible part, pulls me back and asks the question – was the younger me really ready for the journey towards publication? 

Over a cup of coffee the other day I pondered this question.

Looking back I don’t think I was ready to write a book back in my twenties and thirties. There were other things going on in my life and there were some big changes which I had to deal with.

I don’t think I was committed enough to be a writer back then. The calling to be a writer kept knocking at my door and each time there was an emotional hurdle to climb over. Most of the time I would fail at trying to overcome the obstacle which, I believe, was a sign I wasn’t ready to start the publication journey.

I read only a handful of books during the child raising years because I had better things to do like change nappies, play Barbie weddings, clean food splattered walls and sleep in their play house whilst they cooked me dinner on a toy stove. There was no time for writing and any free time I had was spent losing myself on my husband’s Dungeons & Dragons computer game, where I got to travel around distant lands, selling jewels, staying in nice inns, sparking romance between fictional game characters and running away from every creature I was supposed to fight.

After draining the coffee in my cup I reflected on the Write or Die Podcast  . There is a great line from Julie C. Dao, who says, ‘every writer has a different timeline.’  In the podcast she is talking about being a struggling unpublished writer and seeing people around you enjoy literary successes. You start to wonder why these things are not happening to you. She uses this timeline approach as a reason why this happens.

However I think it also applies to my scenario. We all respond differently to the writer calling during our lives and there’s a reason why some of us start young and some start later with their journey.

We are all on different timelines. 

I wasn’t ready to start my journey when I was younger. I didn’t have the life experiences or emotional resilience to become a serious writer.

I found writing in my forties because I am on a different timeline to other writers. My life has turned me into the writer I am today. Over time my emotional resilience has got stronger and my box of life experiences has grown too.

I needed to live my life to get where I am today. The younger me wasn’t ready to write a book. 

This blog post has been very therapeutic.

Have a great day x

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I am a blonde writer of romantic comedy fiction.

33 thoughts on “If I Had Started Writing Seriously When I Was Younger I Might Be Published Now, But Was The Younger Me Ready To Write a Book? #AmWriting #Writing

  1. I started writing from my own sense of inspiration in my early 20s, and now I’m in my late 40s still trying to break through. I did have some fallow periods, but mostly in my early years. I wish I had started writing my own stuff when I was in high school, but at that time I hadn’t realized that writing fiction and drama was going to be my destiny.
    Timelines are different for everyone all right.

  2. I feel this. I have been writing since I was very young, and always dipped in and out of projects as a teen, feeling guilty whenever I wasn’t writing. I look back sometimes and wish I’d taken my writing more seriously back then. But realistically, even though I loved to write, I did not have the determination it takes back then. Now is a more positive writing time for me, for sure. Great post!

  3. You definitely need to feel ready to
    write or be a writer…
    But I feel sad hearing of all those stories you started and then deleted!!!
    Oh the tales you could have sounds, using them!!!!

  4. I wrote my first creative word since school in July 2006. I had no urge to create before then but went on a summer school with my wife and randomly decided to take a class called ‘write a radio play in a week’. Loved it and while writing plays has never really appealed I started my first attempt st a novel the week after the course finished. 12 years later and…
    Why then? My dad was a poet, wrote creative pieces and always provided something for family events. It was his role. No one was better at it. He died in March 2005. Said (lovely thoughtful) wife often points out how I took up the mantle albeit sub consciously. We are ready to write when we are ready. My timeline maybe…

  5. Loved this post! I’ve been working on the same series for 17 years, 6 of which I didn’t do any writing, and I often wonder how much further I’d be along in the publishing journey if I’d taken it more seriously and didn’t take such a long break. On the other hand, the drafts I have now were influenced by the things that have happened to me in the last few years (moving states, isolation, illness etc) so I completely agree with you that we write what we need to write, at the right time in our lives. Thank you also for the podcast suggestion. I’ll be downloading it and giving it a listen 😊.

  6. I had ideas for several books when I was younger even writing notes and drawing characters vehicles etc.
    Then I left school and started work and dating and all the things adolescents do, I got married, all my notes were lost in an accident and my book never materialised but the idea never left me.
    Close to sixty I had an epiphany and finally wrote the damn thing down turning it into a whole series, I blog regularly, have a facebook page and even use twitter (aargh!). Still not published two years on but determined never to give up I wonder if I had followed my instincts when younger I would be an established author with a catalogue of books.
    I don’t care though, it’s still good fun.

  7. This post resonates with me. I, too, spent my time bringing up children and working with no thought of writing. While doing my teacher training I wrote a few poems, but that was all. One got published in the university magazine.
    I always enjoyed writing stories when we were given them in school, and wrote a terrible romance in my tens, but I never thought of writing as a career. In fact, I went down the science route.
    I eventually decided to turn a Dungeons and Dragons scenario I’d written into a novel. It morphed from one into, currently 3 published and a 4th on the way.
    I wrote during the summer holidays mainly, but took early retirement and then finished it.
    After I found an agent, she put me in touch with a publisher who wanted money. A hybrid contract, so I left her and self-published. Then I heard, through an author friend, about a small publisher she reccomended and sent them my latest book. They liked it, published it and took over my other books, then numbering 3.
    Do I wish I’d started earlier? Yes, in a way. I’m concerned I won’t finish writing the series before I die, but could I have done it earlier? Who knows. Probably not. I’ve learned a lot about how people think and feel, and how they express those things in the years that have passed.

  8. Omg Lucy! This is so me!! I started later, like you, and finally stopped questioning why I didn’t do this earlier. I try to believe there’s a reason for everything and that we start when we’re ready. Maybe we had to experience more life to allow our writing to feel richer. Who knows? What I do know is we started and we’re doing it. That’s all that counts. You’re such a good writer. I can’t wait to see your successes.
    Great great post!

  9. Just after a break of life getting in the way again recently, I decided to post this morning for the first time in a while something other than “just” poetry. Somehow it seemed right and long overdue. This post is both inspiring, I have the will to carry it on and reassuring, that it’s OK to take a break from it now and then and you don’t actually lose your skill, it just waits for you to take the opportunity to nurture it once again.
    Thank you Lucy

  10. Luci, I actually started writing in the fifth grade, my teacher inspired me to do it because of this amazing grade I got on a writing project. And I have been writing since then when I get the inspiration, which is nearly everyday. I’m now 23 years old and have realized writing is “my thing” but even though according to my editing peers (friends that I allow to edit my stories before I post them anywhere) my stories are great, they still do not get the attention of editors yet. As Mark Twain has said: “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” So, with that being said by (the wonderfully amazing thoughtful and inspiring) Mark Twain, don’t give up. This too shall pass.

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