A Letter To Yourself (Short Story?)

In-class writing about yourself in terms of your writing process.

Your writing is going to be terrible.

You think you have just chanced upon the best plot for a story. You think you have the most amazing set of characters in your arsenal. You’ve come up with all these back stories for them and you’re so excited to put your ideas into words that you don’t even wait for your examinations to end before getting started on it. No, it’s right in the middle of Finals week but there you are writing word after word. You think your writing is great. You re-read as you write, perfecting every paragraph before going onto the next because you think you’re so smart that if you edit while you’re writing you won’t need to edit after it.

It’s not going to work.

But you did alright for your examinations if that is of any consolation.

But let’s get back to your writing.

After a couple of months, you will have written almost twenty-nine thousand words but you will be no where close to finishing it. And the paragraphs that you had painstakingly edited while writing will sound like utter rubbish to you. And you will not learn at this point, no, it will take you a few more attempts for you to realise that the only reason your writing ever sounded good as you wrote them was because you knew the intricacies of the characters and their lives that you not had as of yet conveyed in your story. But it’s okay. You will know that this story that you worked on, isn’t any good. It won’t dampen your spirits though because another story idea will soon take it’s place.

This is the story that you will perfect.

That’s what you will think. And that will not be the case. In your excitement to convey this story, you will rush into it haphazardly.

Haphazardly? You must think I’m joking. I mean, you’ve watched countless videos on the AuthorTube part of YouTube. You have read countless articles from fellow writers, editors and publishers. You have recognised the flaws you have made in your first attempt at writing a novel. You have plotted for this new novel. You have interesting plot points and interesting characters. What could go wrong?

Everything.

And the worst thing is, it will take you a good long year to realise.

You will not finish this novel either – not as of yet at least, if you get my drift. But this is the story that will change you. When you see how that despite a year’s worth of effort and thirty-one thousand words, you have not finished a novel, it’s going to affect you a lot and especially so when this is the novel you expected to be the one.

But don’t worry, kid. You won’t give up. Oh you do the exact opposite.

So you put your second story aside and then you start toying with a third idea. Where, how and when this idea comes to you, I do not know. But this story is going to take you on a wild ride right from the very beginning. You will not make the same mistake you had made prior. You will spend a whole lot of time and effort planning for this novel. You will make sure you have everything down, plot points, characters, character backstories, character motivations, plot twists. You will have it all down.

And it will not be enough either because when you put an idea into words, everything changes.

But you won’t give up. No, not this time. This time you’ve been careful. You’ve made sure your character motivations line up. You’ve made sure the voice of your narrator is clear and consistent. You’ve spent a lot of time to ensure you don’t make the mistakes that you made previously. And so it shall be that this is the story that you will finish. You would have written just over ninety-five thousand words in a span of eight months.

Some congratulations is due.

But you won’t be celebrating for long because although you haven’t made the mistakes you used to, you, my dear, have made some new ones.

You will be working on this novel for another year after completing the first draft because you will be no where close to liking your writing. Your friends will tell you it’s good. But you won’t see it. You will still be proud of your idea but you just won’t be able to like your execution. And you will keep editing it. You will try to get it published even when you aren’t fully sold on your writing yet and you will try your hands at self-publishing too.

And it will fail.

But.

It.

Will.

Not.

Stop.

You.

You are a stubborn one, aren’t you? You are probably reading this and going, ‘well now that I know this, I won’t make the same mistakes’.

Well, I hate to break it to you but you will. And let me tell you why that is fine.

It is fine because you are going to love writing. You will hate editing your finished manuscript for the umpteenth time but the idea of a better product will keep you going. You will keep thinking about your second project idea and maybe, just maybe, you will find a way to make it work. You will always make it work just as you have always loved writing. You have been writing diaries and blog entries since you were a teenager. You have always expressed yourself through writing. Did you think you would want to be an author when you grew up? Absolutely not. So writing to you is not something you want to do, it is something you can’t not do.

You are going to love every part of the process from thinking about the ideas and to getting it on the paper. You are going to get stuck when your characters do things you don’t want them to do. You are going to hate them. But you are going to love the challenge they present you with too.

And hey you might not always like what you’ve written but, as I’ve seen and as you’ve read, that will never be a good enough reason to get you to stop writing. In fact, you will only be spurred to write even more.

So, you there, with the sparkle in your eye, putting your idea into words ignoring your looming exams…

Just keep at it.

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