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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self

by James L. Rubart

The premise of the novel I'm working on as I write is, What if you could go back and talk to your younger self?

With that idea peppering my mind, I thought about what I would tell my younger writer self. What would I say to the James of '06 (which is when I dove into the publishing world) with the wisdom of the James of today.

At Least Three Things

 I'd slow down and enjoy the the wonder of it all much more

In The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis writes this about Susan: (using the Lady Polly as his mouthpiece)

"Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.”

Getting published isn't silly, but rushing toward it like that's the pinnacle of life, is silly. More egregious is longing so much for that contract, or indie book to launch, that you miss the magic of the moments that are happening right now. Treasure them.

Ask any successful entrepreneur (and that's what writers are) about their most treasured memories, and most will tell you things like  eating pizza in their office off of cardboard boxes because they couldn't afford a conference table. I wish I would have cherished the struggling years more.


Take the time to make your first book great. I thought I was ready to publish in 2006. My 148,000 word manuscript was a masterpiece. Except it wasn't.  (Yeah, a bit long for one thing.) I seriously considered self-publishing. Nowadays that's a viable option, but back then it was the quick-fix to no publisher wanting to take a chance on me.

Don't succumb to the quick-fix solution. Maybe indie is the way for you to go. Fine. But don't do slap-and-dash publishing. Make sure your craft is honed. Hire an excellent editor; cover designer; etc. Make it a book you'll be proud of two years, five years, ten years from now.

Have the guts to ask a friend (with the necessary experience ) who will be brutally honest about whether it's time to publish, or whether you need to put in a few more years of training before you sign up for the marathon.


Sales, awards, and the praise of men don't matter, so shun them!Yeah, I saved the toughest bit of advice for Young James for last. Inside most of us is a little boy or girl, still wondering if anyone is going to pick us for the playground game. So when the awards and the bestseller lists and the reader e-mails start popping up in our in-boxes, it's hard not to let those things validate us.

But it's vapor. Name me the ten bestselling novelists of fifty years ago. Name three. Not easy is it? We could make a few educated guesses, but that's about it.

I'd tell myself, "James, seek Jesus. Follow the path he's leading you on. Take his yoke on your shoulders every day. Nothing else matters. Nothing else is going to last."

Your Turn

What would you tell you the writer from eight years back? 



James L. Rubart is the best-selling, and Christy award winning author of six novels. During the day he helps authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, water skis, golfs, does sleight of hand, and takes photos.  No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at http://jameslrubart.com/
 



18 comments:

Joan said...

Excellent points, James. I would tell myself to stop procrastinating and stop trying to be a perfectionist. I would tell myself to "just write" and there will be time for edits.

Henry McLaughlin said...

Thanks for this great article, Jim. Great reminder that we should continue the wonder of the call to write. I would tell myself not to obsess over the craft and the business of writing; to see each day as an opportunity to learn more about me as a person and a writer; and to discover and develop friendships along the way.

Ane Mulligan said...

This really made me think, buddy. I don't want to think this early in the morning. All right. The biggest struggle at times is the last one. Believing, trusting, and not trying to second guess where God is leading.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Great advice and definitely the last one is a huge struggle for me...don't let negative Amazon reviews taint you as a writer. Don't look around you at what "everyone else" is doing or writing. Do your best, as to the Lord, and NOT unto men. Something I need to work on all the time.

Unknown said...

Well said, Joan!

Unknown said...

Love it, Henry.

Unknown said...

I hear you, Ane. Morning thinking can be rough. :)

Unknown said...

Not unto men, not unto men, not unto men ... exactly, Heather.

Elizabeth Van Tassel said...

Thank you for your wonderful insight, great attitude, and witty way of saying take it with a grain of salt. And make your first novel, and the rest, sing.

Cindy M. Jones said...

Enjoyed reading this, thank you!

Jim Rubart said...

I appreciate you saying so, Cindy.

Jim Rubart said...

Thanks, Elizabeth! Fun to see you here.

Nicole said...

Really really good post, Jim. There's a price to pay for it all, no? What are we willing to pay to gain what we think we need? As our Lord said about following Him: "Count the cost. What could possibly be more important than doing as He asks? Amen, Jim.

Kelly Blackwell @ Heres My Take On It said...

Such an incredible post. I'll take your wisdom to heart. If I were to visit myself eight year ago, I would tell me to sit down and write. The fact is that 8 years ago, I was single and still rubbing out the wounds from an abusive relationship. Five years of abuse caused me to closet all my dreams and doubt myself. At some point you have to push past that and live and at one time in my life writing was a huge part of my life. Time to do it afraid. Thank you James. :)

Jim Rubart said...

Thanks, Nicole. Appreciate it.

Jim Rubart said...

Love hearing that you're pushing past the wounds and walking the path, Kelly!

Ian Acheson said...

Jim, another great post. Your last point is so important - we do seek validation don't we? Why, when we've already been affirmed and validated by our Creator.

I'd tell my younger self to turn up everyday even when you're scared to because you've got the best writing buddy sitting alongside you who happens be to be the smartest one the world has ever seen.

Bless you brother.

Jim Rubart said...

Turn up every day ... so true!