Changing the world's opinion… as soon as we finish this math homework
So, quite obviously, this is a teen writing blog. And by definition, that means I’m all, “Rah! Rah! Teen writers rock!” “Teen writers can get published!” “Teens can write, too!” (See what I did there?) I talk a lot about how teen writers, just like all other writers out there, are completely capable of securing a book deal, and often, as is the case with our teen author bookshelf, I highlight all of those who do.
But, here’s one thing I don’t often talk about: what if you don’t get published as a teen?
What if you work your heart out, write a great book, fully deserve to secure that book deal… and it just doesn’t fall through? Or what if you realize that you just need more time to improve your craft before you can get published? Or… what if it just doesn’t happen while you’re a teenager?
And I know this may sound silly to any non-teens reading this, but I think a lot of us teen writers, myself included, fear this. In fact, we fear it not just a little bit, but a lot. There’s something in the back of our minds that says, “Okay, you need to get published before you turn twenty-one.” Or, “Okay, you need to get an agent before you turn twenty-one.” Or, “Okay, you need to write a full novel before you turn twenty-one.” There’s something telling you that you need to do X writing-related thing while you’re still young, because you know that you are talented, and you want to show it to the world. But more than that, there’s a certain level of personal pride in it, because you want to be able to look back on yourself in ten years and say, “Yeah, I did [insert thing here] when I was only eighteen.”
Whatever the case, this is something we all deal with on some level, and it’s 100%, totally normal. Everyone, knowingly or not, sets goals for themselves. Everyone. And it just so happens that many of us teen writers set goals revolving around our age, so the possibility of not doing X writing-related thing before we turn twenty instills fear in a lot of us. (In a weird way, it’s sort of like the “I need to get kissed/need to lose my virginity before I turn Y age” mentality that a lot of us, myself included, feel.)
I get this. I really do. Even now, I still feel a little tingle of fear whenever I remember that, chances are, I won’t get published before I turn twenty. But today, when this possibility popped up again, I found myself thinking, “Well, who cares?”
To help give you all some perspective, I’ve spent the last thirty minutes researching all of the things that happen if you don’t get published as a teen, and I’ve culminated my findings into this one picture. So what happens if you don’t get published as a teen? Well:
The answer is nothing.
Nothing happens. Absolutely nothing. The world does not implode. Dinosaurs don’t come back to life and take you hostage in your own basement. Your fingers do not, out of protest, refuse to ever form words again.
It just… passes.
Because here’s the thing: you’re a writer, and you know what writers do? We keep writing. We keep writing better and better books, until we finally write The One. Whether that’s the one that we first complete, or the one that gets us an agent, or the one that secures us a book deal, it doesn’t matter. But if you keep trying, it will happen, and the glory will be just as sweet as it would have been if you did it as a teenager.
You’ll get there.
Remember that, okay?
You. will. get there.
You’ll get there, and it doesn’t matter one bit when you do, because the beautiful thing about publishing is that age is a nonfactor. Writing is not like, say, gymnastics where you have to “make it” at a young age or else you’ll never make it at all. In writing, it’s all about your book–and if your book is good, that’s all people will see. So think of it this way: wouldn’t you rather wait to publish an incredible book that will garner you fans from all across the globe, than to rush to publish one you know isn’t so great, just because you want to secure a book deal while you’re still a teen?
Don’t get me wrong: I think positive peer (self?) pressure can be a good thing. But you have to remember that at the end of the day, even if you don’t hit your goal of accomplishing X thing before you turn twenty, or twenty-one, or whatever the age may be, nothing will change. The voice in your head is wrong, because you are not a failure. You started following your dreams at an age before most people even realize what their dreams are, and for that, you deserve nothing but applause.
Because, really? I’m confident that if you keep working at it, one day, each and every one of you will have your books on the shelves. Some of you will get published as teens; some of you won’t. It’s that simple. But you all, no matter how or when you get published, have something amazing to say through your stories, and you will get a chance to say it. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time.