‘How many books have you written?’
It’s a question I get asked at just about every event I do. On the surface, it sounds simple. But it isn’t, not really.
I have written three published books.
But those are not the only books I’ve written.
There was my first book, The Purple Princess, written when I was six and could only find a purple crayon. I self-published it proudly with the help of a stapler.
The Night the Toys Came Alive: the first story I (aged 12) sent on submission. It earned my important first rejection.
Modern Magic: my first fully-finished novel, the one I arm-twisted a friend of a friend of a friend at Harpercollins into reading and got my first personalized rejection (flat characters, frenetic pace, too much going on!)
The Inner Circle: My second full novel, the first book I wrote without school or some other deadline for motivation.
And then there were all the books I didn’t finish writing: The Missionary’s Daughter, based on my grandmother’s childhood in China; Misfits From Mars, about some very odd new kids at school; The Dewling, my first (and only) first crack at epic fantasy.
And many, many more.
On the surface, it can look like a lot of wasted writing. But when you are learning to be an author, no writing is ever really wasted.
Each of those unpublished efforts taught me something. Sometimes it was about the craft of writing (how to describe a forest, use dialogue effectively, write an exciting chase scene). Sometimes it was about the mechanics (how to sit down at a desk and get words onto the page, how to prepare a manuscript for submission). Sometimes all I learned was what didn’t work, but that has value too.
All of these books I never published, that still live in various stages on various computers and gathering dust at the bottom of drawers, were a journey I needed to take. They brought me a little closer to being able to write Dreamer Ballerina, and then the Alice Jones Mysteries. And when I look back at those drafts now, I can see little glimpses of the writer I would grow to be.
So if you want to be a writer, keep writing. The story you are working on now might not be the one that launches your career, but it will help you on your way.
This is my last post for GirlsHeartBooks before the page retires. It has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of this site. Thank you for reading!