We at U Chic love to write (frankly, it feels like that's all we've been doing this summer as we slog though the second edition of our oh-so-popular college handbook), but what we REALLY love to do is obsess about great books and the authors behind them. As a special treat to you, we've managed to snag New York Times best-selling author Maggie Stiefvater (of Shiver and Linger fame). Check out what she has to say about being a twenty-something writer, and how being young sets her apart from the rest of the (wolf) pack.
When I was 15 or so, I remember reading an article about amazing authors that got published young. I eagerly paged through it until I found out that their definition of “young” was under 45. (Actually, there were two authors under the age of 30, and even then, they were only just.)
I thought I would die.
Sure, I was a melodramatic and grandiose teen. I’d been writing novels ever since I could well, write, and while other girls were having social lives and learning how to do their hair (something that still largely defeats me) and generally being productive members of society, I spent my time writing, reading, or daydreaming about seeing my name on the New York Times bestsellers list. The idea of having to wait until I was thirty to be published was intolerable. Why? Because thirty was when you became boring, and I was quite certain I would have had a cliff-diving accident by then, or possibly join a gang of young mercenaries in a third world country, or (hopefully) get stolen away by fairies.
I had a lot of fantasies about being published back then, and I would let myself dwell upon them after finishing a chapter. One of my favorite fantasies was imagining myself browsing idly in the bookstore, a bestselling author hiding in plain sight. While wandering through the stacks I would sigh, and another customer would say, “what are you looking for?” I would reply, “Something good.” And she would pull out a copy of my book and say, “I love this book. Read this one!” Ever so humbly, I would reveal my true identity and squeals would ensure. (Oh, happy dream!)
Well, this little daydream o' mine actually did come true last year. While in a bookstore, a customer recommended my last book (Shiver) to me — I thanked her politely and managed to bite my lip. Honestly, the moment was just too surreal to let it play out exactly as I’d imagined it would so many years ago.
I think it’s time to point out that I’m not forty-five (but I’m not thirty either). What I am is a twenty-eight year old author, wife, AND mother that's spent twenty of those years constantly chasing the concept of being a writer WHILE writing. (That second bit is the most important part of that sentence, by the way.) I know plenty of people who've spent decades fantasizing about being a professional author, but don't ever actually get around to the writing part.
It’s probably not necessary to be as grandiose and melodramatic teenager as I was – it's also probably not strictly important to have elaborate fantasies of what life as a published author will be like (especially as most of these fantasies will not quite encompass the many all-nighters pulled for deadlines, mountains or research required, AND the time spent answering e-mails). And I don’t think you have to achieve the ripe age of 45 to make it happen either. But the writing, now that’s important. It’s practice, and you’ll need it. (I know I did.)
So, I’ve amended my flights of fancy. Even though I made the New York Timesbestsellers list before
30, and had a chance to have my novel recommended to me live and in technicolor, I still hunger for bigger, more important things in my life…like a kickass motorcycle.