Recently, I read a truly inspirational blog post by Ashelynn, a young writer-blogger, encouraging other young writers to ignore all the naysayers and just.keep.writing. Which may not seem like a big deal--we all say this, right? We get discouraged with rejections and all the stupid shite that floats in whenever you're trying to break into a new business, especially one that can feel as fickle and SLOW as publishing, so we often say: just keep writing, dude. Because we want to encourage other writers who've been struggling possibly years.
But imagine being a writer at twenty. No, sixteen. Or eleven. Whatever.
Well, a lot of us older peoples WROTE back then. But how many of you wrote wrote? As in, with serious dedication. As in sacrificing time with your friends and parties and money for books and workshops and conferences? As in having to listen to your mom and dad bitch because you're wasting your time away in front of that computer, dear, and then doing it anyway. Hell, a lot of adult writers don't even write with that kind of drive. Yet, there are some young writers out there who do just that. And they often do it with virtually no support. Because pshaw! What does a kid know about writing??? Let alone publishing? They have no experience. No expertise. No wisdom, yo.
Uh. Maybe that's true. I don't know. But does it matter? Is there some magic age or level of experience that you have to reach before you can proclaim yourself a writer? I mean, while we're at it, why don't we just start saying that anyone who's not published isn't a real writer either.
Seriously, people. There are NO RULES. None. That's the beauty of writing. If you can find a way to do it without words, then good for you. If you want to write upside down hanging from a monkey's tail, you can. At any age.
So, I won't be telling a sixteen-nine-five-any year old to stop wasting her life away with her silly little stories just because she's not got any hair on her upper lip. Or whatever. I wish someone had encouraged me to plant my arse in a chair and crank out story after story, no matter how ridiculous and copycat and make-you-want-to-puke awful they might be (because mine probably were) and then FLAUNT IT. And scream out: I AM WRITER! Who knows where I'd be today if I'd felt more confident about my writing back then. You only get better, you know. And if you totally rock as a new writer? Holy crap, just imagine what kind of writer you'll be five years from now.
If you keep writing.
But I will say this (try not to throw sharp things at me as you listen to my old-person babbling): don't forget to breathe sometimes. Take it from me--the most obsessive writer I know. I have to make a concerted effort to stop being a f#$%ing hermit with my writing all the time. But for good reason. I have a family. I'd lose them if I didn't (and have to pay for their therapy later). But for a young writer? Well.
Listen, writing is an endless thing. It goes on and on, but time? It withers, and then it's gone. Write write write until your fingers bleed and your eyes go blurry. But take time away sometimes. Feel the sun on your face, go to parties, get into fights, feel hurt and vulnerable and broken, screw around, screw up--whatever. All of these experiences make for a richer life and a better writer. Don't avoid the world--it hurts you all the freaking time, but it also makes your stories kickass. I PROMISE. You never know where the next idea, the next character, the next setting will come from. Finding inspiration is as much a part of writing as the writing itself. But you'll never find it if you never leave your room. So don't be a f#$%ing hermit like me all the time. Seriously, I'm all pasty and s#!%.
But do keep writing. Because you gotta let the demons out.
And you're effing brilliant. Like Ashelynn says, you are the exception.
Be sure to check out Ashelynn's blog, A Gypsy Writer, and her blog post You Are the Exception. She's awesome.