I started this blog when I was eighteen. I'll be twenty-one soon. Those years have been a time of huge transitions. Major life changes, upsets, high points, deadly lows, and insanity. And I've been writing through it all.
Blogging and tweeting has let me find a cool community of young writers who face many of the same problems. As I begin to age out of this group and think of grad school, I'd like to share a bit of what I've learned. I've changed a lot during this time, and so has my writing.
And you know what? That's a good thing.
Rewind to when I first started writing The Book, back when I was fourteen and a high school freshman.
Thank God I did not finish and edit and shop this MS around when I was still fourteen. I couldn't have finished and edited it if I hadn't matured. And yet, I couldn't have started it if I hadn't been fourteen and rebellious and too ambitious for my own damn good.
I've always had a dark and morbid imagination, and I wanted to write this dark and morbid story. But I was too young to really do that justice. I had the violence down pat. Gore, brutality, hatred -- sadly, I had a pretty good understanding of all those things by the time I was fourteen.
Unfortunately, I was a novice in terms of knowing anything about love. The main romance was supposed to be this deep, meaningful relationship and blah blah blah, but all their interaction was cutsey and flirty. That's what I thought love was at fourteen. Oh, and sex? Nope. Nada. Even when writing about characters much older than myself, my mentality was, "Well, I never think about that, so my characters won't either. Because ewww." Sometimes I look back and want to laugh. My seventeen-year-old male protagonist never thinks about sex? My sixteen-year-old oh-so-rebellious female protagonist never at least considers it? Haha.
Now, thanks to edits by my college-aged self, said male protag runs off to join the army when his ex gets knocked up. Hopefully future readers will still like him because it's not actually his baby. But that little edit has literally changed the entire darn story -- from his character to his motivations and, ugh, everything. So much work.
So totally worth it.
When I was fourteen, I had him throw a rebellious hissy fit and run off to join the army because, I don't know, all the cool kids were doing it or something. Very Luke Skywalker. Very shallow. Very...immature.
While I don't bash writing when you're young, I will say that there are definite advantages to a more mature perspective. Five years from now, I'll look at things differently. My writing style will be different. That's just how life works.
I used to freak out because I would never finish and publish my first book by the time I was sixteen, like some of the authors I idolized. Now I'm fine with that. Publishing young might make you stand out, but in the end the book is the most important. Some people are ready younger. I wasn't.
And that's OK.