S.A. Larsen aka Sheri, welcome to the blog! First things first, enjoy a complimentary coffee on the house. Now sit back…close your eyes and…step inside the Baby Author Me Time Machine.
Ooh . . . it’s more spacious in here than I would have thought, and this chair is so comfy.
We’re heading all the way back to the day after you sold your first book. Remember the joy, the celebrations with friends, the cake? Oh, so much cake. If only you had known the trials and tribulations to come.
Yes! I remember all the joy (and, honestly shock) after I found out I’d sold a book. But I’ll skip the cake. Just the frosting, please.
Now imagine that you could sit down with Baby Author You and offer her some sage advice. What do you wish you would have known? What would you have absolutely avoided? What did you spend weeks worrying about that ended up being no big deal?
The wee Baby Authors of the world need your words of wisdom. So let’s dive in!
Over to you, Sheri…
Okay, look young scribe, this writing gig is going to be tough. Not that you thought it was going to be easy; you didn’t. But it will take lots of honing the craft through repeated writing sessions and classes, blogging to meet like-minded writers, and tons of reading. All that will eat up loads of time. And when you decide to do all this, you’ll be raising four kids spanning a range of ten years, helping to care for ailing parents (one with multiple sclerosis), and joining your husband in running a family business. Oh yeah, and you’ll need to breath, too.
Plus, writing stories is not just about writing. It’s about bookmarks and book covers, line edits and royalties. Let’s not even talk about all the conferences and signings you’ll need to keep up with. Unfortunately, you’ll miss most of those – partly because of life responsibilities, partly because of where you live. This will become a great concern for you, not being able to physically mingle with those like you. Don’t sweat what you can’t control. Move on and write.
Trust me, the bustle and pressure of writing every day (and all that comes with it) will get to you. Remember you want this because you love it. Find you can’t remember why you loved it? Look at all you’ve accomplished to that point and be grateful. All will be restored.
The first three valuable lessons you’ll quickly learn about writing:
- Writing is a solitary endeavor; you’ll get lonely.
- You CAN’T do it alone if you want to grow in the craft and in the publishing world, which sounds like it contradicts #1, but it doesn’t.
- Most family members and friends won’t understand what you do.
Thus, one of your favorite areas of writing will be Critique Groups. You will have many; some will fade as career paths change or grow, while others you’ll remain forever friends with. Writing buds rock! They get you and are always there with encouragement to keep you writing. Be confident enough to nurture these relationships. No price tag could label their value. And the cool thing is that you get to help them in return.
Speaking about help, Agents and Editors are hard-working people who can help you, too. When you begin writing, other than having your story out in the wild, you’ll want nothing more than to sign with an agent. You’ll feel you need the guidance, which will be true. But guess what? After two years of submitting to agents, you toss that idea, submit to publishers on your own, and receive multiple offers on your first manuscript. This is what gets you an agent. And it will be totally cool . . . while it lasts. Sadly, eighteen months after you sign with your agent you will make the choice to end that relationship. Too much to go into here, but just know that you did nothing wrong. It just wasn’t a good fit. Don’t wallow and let your mojo for writing fade. *Spoiler Alert* – Because that’s exactly what you’ll do. Trust me. It’s super hard to climb back up the mountain of exuberant passion for writing. You will start climbing. R-e-a-l-l-y slowly, but you will.
A Side Note: when family and friends ask how your writing is going, be honest. Tell them about how raising four kids takes ALL your time, that writing until 2:00 AM is tough and you often fall asleep and end up with keyboard markings all over your face. Share the business side of selling books, what you really make on one book sold. After you begin to let them see your writing world through reality, they will become much kinder with their questions and support. They simply are unaware of the facts of writing and publishing professionally, as were you before you dove into the industry. So, chin up!
And you do lift that chin, especially during School Author Visits. Seeing how you live up in the sticks (North-NORTHeast LOL), in-person school visits will be hard for you. Way too much travel with your family responsibilities. BUT you will find your niche in cyber school visits. You’ll begin doing them alone and you’ll visit with young readers in India, England, and the States. Your favorite will be students from Scotland because they couldn’t contain their excitement on meeting you. Yes, you. These visits will feed you the writing fuel you’ll need. Soon, you’ll team up with an incredibly talented group of middle grade authors who love writing spooky stories like you. Your cyber school visits together will be so much fun! You will learn lots about them, yourself, and that all the sacrifices you make to write your stories matters. Young readers do read your books. They are encouraged and excited by your stories. A few even tell you that you’ve inspired them to write. You will need to rely on these sweet truths often.
My biggest advice to you would be to remember that you matter, too. You began telling stories to your children when they were babies, up at all hours rocking or feeding them. And in the SUV, while driving to this youth hockey game or that one. Writing is your comfort, your inspiration, your therapy to bask in life’s joys and work through its angst. Life will happen. You will experience happiness, but also a lot of loss and pain. Don’t shut out these emotions. Embrace and use them to strengthen your stories, to take your characters to emotional depths that readers can’t resist. Be brave and trust that you are good enough to do this. You are not perfect. You never will be. But you are worth it.
S.A. Larsen is the award-winning author of MOTLEY EDUCATION, a fantasy adventure for middle grade readers, and MARKED BEAUTY, her young adult fantasy-romance. She loves to explore imaginary passageways to hidden worlds with all sorts of creepy creatures. When she’s not chasing her characters around a cemetery or antagonizing them with the wonders of young love, she can be found in the land of lobsters and snowy winters with her husband and four children, Sadie the German Shepherd, and a trio of kittens. Visit her cyber home at www.salarsenbooks.com.