Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Letter to my Future Self

I know soon this book is going to be finished. In a few weeks, you are going to be holding a 300+ page manuscript that you will call your new baby. And then you will continue to tweak it and rewrite it, and eventually you will send it out into the world again.

This letter is for that time.

You will think this book came easily. Writing-the-end-amnesia will erase most of what I'm about to tell you, so I want to remind you when you start on another book.

This book was hard. Hair-pulling, nail-biting, nightmare inducing, gave-up-at-least-three-times hard. From beginning to end it has taken over a year. You started two other novels in between. You said it was boring. You said you didn't like the characters ( I know!! What were you thinking??). You were convinced you lost your mojo. You were sure no one would like it.

What you will remember is the moment that spark hit again, the way you one day woke up totally in love with your characters and realized you'd been dreaming of them all night. You will remember that you thought about them in the car, doing dishes, in the midst of long, long conversations your children are having with you over school projects. You will remember how the words flew across the page at times, and how there were so many things you wanted to write, you had to start jotting notes in the margins so that you wouldn't forget the new scenes you saw dancing through your head. You will remember sneaking the computer up to bed and writing until one in the morning and hoping you can still be functional enough to get the kids off to school in the morning because you must write. You will remember when you thought 100,000 words was not enough to tell the story that needed to be told.

You will not remember that 80% of those words were like trying to catch a mouse with your bare hands as he skitters across a wide and expansive floor. You will not remember when you had no idea what the next scene was going to be about, or how to finish the one you were in. You will not remember when reaching 10,000 words seemed like a milestone worth celebrating because you were fairly sure that was as far as you were going to get. You will not remember that you thought this book was crap, and you sucked as a writer. You will not remember when the characters were blank names with no history, no personality, no real story to tell. That at times, they bored you.

In a few months this process is going to begin again. New book. New story, New characters. You will look back on this book with dewy eyes, lovingly adoring this story, sure that this is the last good book you will ever write, that it can't be done again, that this story was never as hard to write as the new one.

When that happens, read this. Because it wasn't as easy as you remember. It was hard. Hard hard hard. This was the book that made you say you were going to give up writing.

But you didn't. And eventually you fell in love. It didn't happen over night, but it did happen.

It will happen again.

Stick with it. Sometimes we are stuck in a bad place, but the good place always comes if we're willing to fight for it.

Love, me


  1. Kind of reminds me of having kids. I think I need to write my own letter.

  2. This is a beautiful letter, Heidi! And so true! I may have to write my own letter to my future self.

  3. Good job!! I think every writer should do this. :0)

  4. Anything is life worth doing is hard. We all need to work on the talents that God gave us.

  5. Will you send this to me in a few month? ;)

  6. Great letter, Heidi!

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and offering your condolensces. I'm spending the day thanking the kind blogging friends that stopped in during this sad time.

  7. This is awesome. Awwww. Made me dewy-eyed!

    I think every writer needs to write themselves a little letter just like this one.

    Like childbirth we so quickly forget, in the glowing excitement of a new story, just how darn hard it is and how much WORK and stress is involved in these literary babies of ours.

  8. Wow! Awesome letter, Heidi. What a great, great idea!!

  9. Oh my gosh, Heidi. This. Is. AWESOME!!!! I'm printing it out to keep in my current project binder. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing it!!

  10. Oh Heidi, this was wonderful. I could relate to your words and you made a little spark start up in me to work on some I'm doing now:)) COngrats for almost being done!

  11. I'm glad I'm not alone in these feelings! It always amazes me how much we all share just by being writers.

  12. i might do this - though id have to censor some of it :)

  13. Love this! I need to write a future letter to myself to read when I finally finish my memoir. It has been over a year that I've been working on it; I'm on the third draft and I just now feel that I'm into the meat of it. Writing is not an easy passion, but it's so fulfilling!