What they didn’t tell me at the Young Author’s Conference…


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free
(This young author, dressed for "career day" circa 1990)

(This young author, dressed for "career day" circa 1990)

I’ve known ever since I was a little girl that I wanted to be writer, and so each year, my elementary school teachers encouraged me to attend the Young Author’s Conference at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  We had to submit our own little books in order to participate, so I grew accustomed to meeting my annual deadline and turning in a story that made me proud. As I listened to grown-up authors talk about their work, I swore to myself that one day I’d be in their place, my own published book in my hand. 

Now I’m back on deadline, this time for my second (published) book. The blog has grown rather quiet as a result, as has my social calendar, my exercise routine, my family time, and just about everything else in my fleeting memory of a life. And as I reflect on whether or not it’s worth all of this work, I realize there are a few things about the writing life that they didn’t tell me at the Young Author’s Conference: 

They didn’t tell me that I’d be working in my pajamas most of the time (or I would have picked a more comfortable outfit). 

They didn’t tell me that some days I’d write from sunup to sundown and only keep 500 words. 

They didn’t tell me that I’d have to overcome stage fright because speaking’s  the only way to actually make money in this business. 

They didn’t tell me that a man named Rupert Murdoch would buy all my publishers.  

They didn’t tell me that I’d be jealous of other writers. 

They didn’t tell me that I’d get rejection letters. 

They didn’t tell me that I’d go from loving my manuscript to categorically abominating it within a matter of hours. 

They didn’t tell me that taxes are a pain in the ass for the self-employed. 

They didn’t tell me how lonely this work can be. 

They didn’t tell me that seeing my name on the cover of a book wouldn’t make me happy, not in the way that writing it did. 

They didn’t tell me that this work—this life—would become such a part of who I am that even when it makes me crazy, I need it like I need water and sunlight and love. 

They didn’t tell me just how lovely and how awful the writing life would be. 

I’m glad that they didn’t, because I think that if they had, I might have gone to Space Camp instead. 

***

So what did they forget to tell you at the Young Author’s Conference (or the “Young Pastor’s Conference” or the “Young Teacher’s Conference” or the “Young Master’s Student Conference”)? 

I’ll be back to my daily blogging routine once I finish this book in a few weeks! Thanks so much for your patience.

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