Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Open Letter to My Younger Writing Self

Dear younger version of Sean,

Here it is, January 3, 2003. You're about a day or so away from sitting down at that old Gateway -- remember not to leave it on all night or you'll never get that burnt plastic smell out out your room; just saying -- and typing out the first draft of that novel. But before you begin, I want to share with you some woodsy words of wisdom that I've learned in the past 9 1/2 years.

1. Remember what Ms. Flaherty, your junior English teacher, once told you: don't limit yourself. You want to be a fantasy author, and that's all well and good. But you're going to make more money writing other genres then just fantasy. Take this hint: research the sale of Babe Ruth in one of those big books you have, then take a flyer on it. You won't be sorry. Basically, do you just want to be known as a fantasy author, or do you want to hit other readers -- those who don't like fantasy -- with your work?

2. Outline, outline, outline. The next two years of your life are going to be hell, and then the next two years are even more so. Before you start writing about that halfling with the disposition of Conan, take a few weeks and start brainstorming out everything from start to finish. I mean this: You're going to get a workout just from taking this thing off the shelf so many times. And by the way, it shouldn't take you over a year to decide the halfling and the dwarf are supporting characters.

3. Remember: When the tension is going, blow something up. You can't do that in fantasy, though: just introduce a sword fight.

And 4. Before you start writing, go downstairs and tell mom and dad you love them. You don't say it enough.


Your older counterpart.