As I was browsing Twitter today (for research reasons, obviously...), I came across these two articles from the Guardian Books website and I just wanted to share them with you all.
This first article tells the story of Tony Schumacher, who left school with a U in his English GCSE and published his first novel at the age of 46. But it was this second article is about a girl called Helena Coggan who published her first novel at the age of 15 that made me want to write this blog post.
Helena's story resonates with me more than Tony's does. Growing up, all I remember thinking in my teenage years was 'I'll have written a book by the time I'm 16.' When I turned 16 I thought to myself, 'okay, I'll definitely have finished writing a book by the time I'm 18.' 18 came and went and I began to get a little more desperate - 'I will DEFINITELY have finished my novel by the time I turn 21/by the time I've graduated' - and, yup, you guessed it, that elusive novel never fully materialised. Although, to be fair, I did actually give it a damn good go that time, but my graduation rolled around quicker than I anticipated.
I applaud Helena, not only finishing her novel, but for getting it published too. Writing a book is no easy thing. It takes time, dedication and perseverance and and incredible amount of self-belief (which, for someone who suffers from extreme anxiety like me, can be a little thin on the ground sometimes). But there's no greater feeling of satisfaction than writing those last few words with flourish and thinking, that's it. I'm done.
I have finally finished my first novel. It's taken me a few years longer than I originally anticipated, but when I look back over my journey as a writer, I wouldn't wish for it to be any different. Who knows, perhaps if I'd the determination to finish my novel when I was 15 instead of 24, I'd have sold it to a publisher and made my millions before I turned 20. But I seriously doubt it. There was no way any sane publisher would've wanted any of my earlier work, even if I had managed to flesh them out into 100,000 words.
But the thought that I'm going to take away from these two articles is this: it is never too late, or too early, to start writing.
Whether you're 15, 20, 35, 50 or 85, there is only one time to start writing, and that is right now. If you have a passion for reading and writing, and you want to share your own stories with the world, go on and do it. At the end of the day, the only thing that will ever hold you back from writing (or baking, or woodworking or whatever your dream may be) is you. You are the only one that can make your dreams come true. It doesn't matter whether you only want to write for you, or if you want to write Harry Potter fan fiction and share it with other HP fans, or if you want to write the definitive guide to flower arranging - write whatever YOU want to write, and start writing it NOW.
It's taken me a full ten years to realise this. But now that I know that the only person responsible for my writing is me, I'm going to keep chasing my dream of becoming an author. This time last year, I hadn't even written a novel. In eight weeks time, I'm going to self-publish my first book. Is it the way I thought I'd get published? No. But I don't care. Once I've published that book, I'll move onto my second one. And then I'll do another one after that. And then another. And then another. Until my crazy brain either finally runs out of steam, or I can't physically write any more. There's nothing to hold me back, there's nothing that can stop me...except me!
So, what are you waiting for?? Get writing!