Saturday, February 14

Mighty Mighty Ambitions

Posted by Shelly Holder

When I was young- namely a bare two years ago- I was obsessed with the idea that I needed to be a child prodigy, and publish in my teens. Each birthday, I would set a personal goal. "I will be published by 17... by 18... before 19..." I was determined to follow in the footsteps of Christopher Paolini and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. At the very least, I figured I should be like Jane Austen (my authorial superhero) and be able to write my personal Pride and Prejudice at the age of 21. And I DID become published (before 19, I think, but I can't even remember- see how meaningless it turned out to be?) but I compromised a part of myself to do so.* Now I'm wiser. I realize that figures like these are very very very rare. There's a reason I could only name two teenage authors like this, and I had to go back 200 years to pull out the Jane Austen reference. Even she had room to grow. She wrote only the first version of P&P at 21, then stuck it in a drawer for almost 20 years. 

Authors that are able to write publishable, marketable manuscripts in their teens are not the rule, they are the exception. And I realized that it is unrealistic to believe that I am held to similar standards myself. I am constantly fighting for the idea that I am my own person, but I need to apply that concept to my writing life as well. I am my own author. I may take more time to grow into the writer that I will be. I may take more revised drafts. I may take more bad manuscripts that shouldn't see the light of day. I may take more rejections. I may take a lot of things, but that doesn't mean the end result is any less worthy for the journey that it takes. It just means that the results will have  better chance of representing ME. And really, that kind of journey is nothing shameful at all. 

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: "Shadowland" by Youth Group
What I want most: More Moleskine journals. I left all mine at home, and the ones I did bring with me are almost full..... 

*I submitted my poems to several vanity publications in my haste (literally, it was 11:00 pm on the eve of my birthday) and the resulting discovery of what a vanity publication was really hurt my creative side. For full story, see my website, www.shellyholder.com