Sunday, 19 February 2012

Things I knew when I started writing that I wish I knew now...

You read that right. I didn't say it the wrong way round...

But isn't it meant to be the other way round? Don't writers, a few years down the line, dispense the advice they wish they'd had when they started out, as in 'Things I wish I'd known when I started writing'?

Of course they do. And I have some of these too, of course. One of these days, if you bear with me, I may even post them on my blog.

But today is not that day. Today is a day for looking back with nostalgia on those early days of innocence, back in 2006 or so, when I first started taking my writing seriously and sat outside on my swingseat, day after day in that warm summer, scribbling away in a notebook, page after page after scrawly page.

I made tons of mistakes, of course (still do). But what I had, back then, was focus. Yes, I had a computer with a broadband connection - 2006 is not that long ago. But I didn't have Twitter or Facebook, and I knew nothing about 'author platforms' and the like. Oh, long lost, glorious, halcyon days...

Don't get me wrong. I'm pleased to have had several novels published in the years since then, and more on the way. I love my work and enjoy the publicity side of things, most of the time. I certainly enjoy hobnobbing with fellow writers, on and offline, and I wouldn't be without my social media now.

But having said all that - here's my list of things I knew then that I wish I still knew today:


1. The actual writing is what counts.

2. Reading is one of my chief pleasures. Not reading with an eye to the market. Not studying how other authors achieve the things they do. Not reading my own stuff, struggling to find a good title. Not reading in fear - has this person stumbled upon the same plotline as me and got there first? Not reading with envy or scorn or anything else. Just reading with sheer delight, because that's what books are for.

3. Anything is possible. I know nothing, in 2006, about the requirements of agents or editors. I have faith in myself. Yes, I need to learn, but I have confidence that I can learn.

4. I'm still young! Well, not exactly young, but six years younger than I'll be in six years' time...

5. I am very lucky to have been able to retire from a stress-filled job into a blissful existence where I have the time and energy to write.

6. Just to repeat... The actual writing is what counts.


OK, younger self, I'm listening. I know a fair number of things now that I didn't know back then, and some of them are worth knowing. I wouldn't really want to go back.

But you had some things right, and it's time I got them right again.

6 comments:

Patsy said...

It's surprising how much we change without being aware of it until we stop to look back.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I see what you're saying. You know now that writing is a business and that has pulled the veil back from your eyes. Yeah...once that happens, there's no going back.

Baggy said...

Clever post!

Rosalie Warren said...

Very true, Patsy. Often for the better, but not always.

Maybe you're right, Michael. But I can try...

Thanks, Baggy. Now I just need to rediscover that old innocence...

Rosemary Gemmell said...

That's a very good post to make us stop and think, Rosalie - and I completely agree with it all! I enjoy the social networking but there's no doubt that I'm neglecting the writing, and sometimes reading for sheer pleasure.

Rosalie Warren said...

Thanks, Rosemary. Maybe the answer is a lovely hot summer, with a notebook and a good novel on the hammock, and the laptop left indoors.