Something I’ve noticed as I broaden my base and try interacting with fellow writers is how young they’re skewing. It’s not a rare thing to see someone in their late teens/early twenties making a serious run at writing. I personally think it’s fantastic and encourage them to keep at it.
I don’t often reflect on my regrets, because I try to learn my lesson from what I’ve done wrong and move on, but I can honestly say I wish I had stuck with writing. I started at a very early age and fresh out of high school, I had more than enough story ideas to keep me going for years to come. Instead, I wrote here and there, but never put too much effort into it.
Since I didn’t plan on being published (thanks to a combination of low self-esteem and seeing the hoops my mom had to jump through), writing was merely a form of self-gratification. I wrote because I had the stories in my head, because the characters compelled me to. But without external pressure to produce (for quite some time, I didn’t even attend a weekly writing group), I just stopped. The stories still piled up in my head, but I did very little to get them out into the world.
At the time I first started writing, I felt like an oddity. I was so young–too young, some might say–as if my lack of life experience prevented me from being an adept writer. Perhaps it did, but truthfully, a lot of my story ideas originated from those early days. They may be expanded and, in some cases, more mature, but they’re still the same stories and characters at their heart.
I had the imagination, the drive, the will and the ability. What I lacked was some sort of fellowship. Everyone in the writing critique group was nearly twice my age (with a few exceptions over the years) and I couldn’t help but feel like the baby. Instead, I should have appreciated I had the enthusiasm, time and fresh perspective to bring new ideas to the table.
These days, with the internet being what it is (not to sound ancient, but there wasn’t a whole lot to it when I was younger), it’s made it easier than ever for writers to connect and share their experiences. My sincere wish is for you all to keep on your path. Whether you’re looking to get traditionally published or plan to self-publish someday, the world needs more writers. Don’t let things like marriage, life, children and reality stop you from pursuing your goals. It’s possible to have it all.