07-14-18 Cassandra O’Leary

Saturday, July 27, 2013

School, Red Pens, and Potential: Thoughts on Young Author-dom

By K.T. Bryski
I’ve thought a lot about being a young author over the past few days. At first, I thought I’d just share my “road to publication” story. It’s a cute little anecdote that I sling around at cons: Gmail cut the preview for Dragon Moon Press’s offer of publication at a terribly inconvenient place, so it looked like they’d rejected me, but really, they wanted my book!
It’s a cute little anecdote. It didn’t seem to fit, somehow.

Being a young author is much like being a grown-up author. You write, you finish your work, you submit, and then hopefully, you publish, promote, and write something new. But youth brings its own challenges (you knew this wasn’t going to be easy, right?).
If you’re a young author, that means you’re probably still in school. Dragon Moon Press acquired Hapax halfway through my third year of university, and released it during my fourth-year midterms. Obviously, academics eats into writing time—both the actual writing, and the promotion, networking, and adminisitrivia that come along with it.

You still have to do your homework. My parents were pretty firm on that—I spent most of Ad Astra studying for an exam. School can’t really fall by the wayside. Trust me, you will regret it later. Communicating with my profs was helpful. Apparently, launching a book is a good excuse for essay extensions, as long as you’re prepared, organized, and give advance notice.
But school has a subtler effect, too. My editor has said in interviews that she is not “a teacher with a red pen.” But when you’re a young author, that dynamic can be hard to shake at first. Up until now, you’ve been surrounded by teachers with red pens, and hey, this is a Real Adult telling you things.

Guess what? In publishing, you’re an adult, too. No matter how old you are. That means you don’t get marked by editors and agents, you collaborate with them. You take responsibility for your work and your behaviour: online, at cons, wherever. Age has only as much meaning as you give it—if you act like an adult, you’ll be treated as one.
That being said, young authors often lack both writing and life experience. This is ok. This is natural. So cut yourself some slack. There are things I wrote in the distant days of my early youth that I would do very differently now. There are things I’m writing now that I will probably do differently in ten years (I hope so). I’ve made gaffes because I didn’t know better. Youth and inexperience can’t be an excuse for everything, but it’s important to bear in mind: all you can do is make the best judgments you can with the information you have. And apologize if you judge wrong.

And I’ve not touched all the benefits to being a young writer! You’re ambitious and fired-up. It’s exciting, and cool, and there’s a wonderful sense of potential. Plus, you don’t have any dependents. This is your time: a time to learn and develop. And think of this: if you’re in your teens or twenties, you may have a good 60-70 years of writing ahead of you. That’s a lot of stories.
What are we waiting for? Let’s write!  

Twitter: @ktbryski





Linda Lovely said...

Great post. You seem very mature (and dedicated and talented). I hope you do have a career that spans many decades. Best of luck.

Shobhan Bantwal said...

Nice post, KT! I wish you lots of success in your writing endeavors.

Good thing you're starting out young. I began writing at the ripe age of 50 - lots of life experience but zero writing knowledge . . . LOL.

Shobhan Bantwal

Judith Ashley said...

Hi KT, Thanks for joining us today at Romancing The Genres. I was closer to 60 when I started writing fiction so like Shobhan, I had lots of life experiences but have had a lot to learn.

Congratulations on making your way into the published world so early in life. And, may you have lots of sales!

Paty Jager said...

KT, It sounds like you have a great career ahead of you. Fun post!

Anonymous said...

Thanks all! I wish I had talked about this now, but the need for more life experience is also why I'm not going straight to grad school - I'm not ready! Luckily, it's never too late to start writing. :)

Maggie Faire said...

Congrats on your sale, KT! I agree with the others, you have a great start to your writing career. Being aware that there is always more to learn and that your writing craft will grow is an excellent attitude.

I also appreciated your advice not to quit school. It's easy to be really excited with the first sale and to have lots of expectations of riches. However, those riches are rarely enough to make a living until you've sold (or self-published and sold) many, many more books. It's always good to have a backup plan for putting food on the table and paying rent.

Sarah Raplee said...

You are so right: as an author, you are an adult and must behave accordingly to the best of your ability. Your accomplishments are impressive, KT! I look forward to following your long and successful career.