Totally loving this line from Meg Cabot's blog:
"If you want a long-lasting publishing career, I think the best way to spend your tweens and teens and early twenties isn’t worrying about getting published, but figuring out who you are and what you’re good at, experimenting with your style, and developing your own voice—in other words, just live your life."
(full post here)
I love that. I love it because I think it's so true and so right.
I talk to a lot of people about getting started in writing, or the writing business. And yes, it's *totally* a business. But it's also the business of selling a (hopefully) really great product. I get frustrated when people talk to me about agents and proposals and the desire to go from concept to contract.
It doesn't work that way. And it shouldn't work that way - not if you're about telling the best story. Telling the story, telling it well - that comes first. Then you can worry about agents and marketing and publicists and paperwork. It will be there when you're done.
Some people start writing early - I did. Other people start writing later. When that's the case, I really think the wisest tack is to let yourself have a second adolescence from a creative standpoint. Figure out your identity as a writer. Identify your writing heroes. Settle into your voice. Learn the building blocks of story. Create compelling characters. Figure out what makes a compelling concept. Try different styles on for size and see what fits comfortably. Don't focus on achievement - focus on growth. Write drafts. Do the work for work's sake. Challenge yourself to be sharper, more edited, more precise, more thoughtful.
Like any other skill, writing well is something you learn how to do, and something you can get better at. Respect the craft.
If you respect the craft, then the agent/editor/sales/marketing/contract/query/subsidiary rights stuff will work itself out. Promise.
And in the meantime, you've lived life. You've observed humanity. You've been places - and that, my friends, is worth writing about.