Sunday, 3 June 2012

An Open Letter to My Seventeen Year Old Self


Kate,

At the moment there's a lot of talk about deciding what you want to do with your life and you're adamant you want to be a writer. A lot of people, many of them much older and wiser than you are, are telling you how hard it is to be a writer; how low the pay is, how fierce the competition, how soulcrushingly destroying it is to get nothing but rejection after rejection. You know in your heart of hearts that not everyone who wants to be a writer gets to be. The future must look pretty scary for you.

I am sitting where I am today because you were strong enough and brave enough (and clever enough and stupid enough...) to argue, reason with and flat-out ignore all of those people who said you couldn't or shouldn't or that the work would be too hard or the subject too soft.

I am so incredibly grateful to you. Because of the decisions you made I'm at the end of a BA in English and Creative Writing. It has been three amazing years and although there have been bad times too I won't worry you with them, because you won't get this letter until you sit here writing it, four years in your future. You're going to love how much better your writing gets, discover you can write poetry (you've actually got high marks and even performed it in the past), see what all the fuss is about script writing. You'll get drunk and get kissed and get your heart broken (often in some combination of the above). Then something so awful will happen that you think you'll never stop being sad about it and while it will always be a sad thing, I promise you, you will hit daylight eventually. (I will say this though: make the most of every day you get to spend with people you love because none of you will live forever. Don't take life and health forgranted.) The end result of all this is that you'll grow up. Not all the way yet (you have been known to eat leftover ice cream and a bag of strawberry laces for breakfast) but we're getting there.

I'm writing to you now because I'm in the same position you are: wondering what comes next. Today someone I trust told me the same thing you know: that the only important thing is that I write. I hope I can have your wisdom and strength of conviction to make good decisions about my future and see them through.

I owe you more than you can ever know

Kate Taylor, aged 21

[Inspired by the previous post.]

I'm curious: what would everyone else out there say to their seventeen year old selves?

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