I've been thinking lately about what advice I would offer my younger self, if I could. Peter Sellers once said that if he could have his life to live over again, he would do everything exactly the same way except he wouldn't go to see The Magus. In that spirit, the most important pievce of advice I could actually give my younger self is
No matter how much you love a cafe, if they give you food poisoning once, don't give them a second chance.I'd say 'ask me how I know this', but I'm pretty sure you can all figure it out.
The best serious advice I could come up with was the usual generic stuff about following your dreams. But I don't think twenty-year-old me needed to be told that she should follow her dreams - she was twenty. She didn't know there was anything else she could do.
What she needed was for someone to tell her what that really looked like.
And in that spirit, here is what following my dreams has looked like for me this week:
1. Setting my alarm clock for 8.30 on a Sunday morning so I have time to wash my hair before I meet my friend to write for a couple of hours.
2. Gathering all my courage to send a query letter to another friend for her feedback.
3. Writing four versions of the same three-line part of my query letter.
4. Going to an Open Mic night, standing in front of a room full of people to read something I had written.
5. Arranging a lift to work two hours before I'm due to start, every day next week, so I can write. The lift is arranged now, so I can't back out.
6. Getting very slightly travel sick on a train because I was trying to fix a scene that's too just too damned long.
7. Alongside all of this, and my full-time job, and my home life, finding time to read books in the genre I'm writing in. This is difficult to make time for, but it's the funnest thing on this list. (YA writers! Your books = better than travel sickness! Put that on your book jackets if you want).
Twenty-year-old me needed that list a lot more than she needed a Thoreau quote in a swirly font against a photo of a tree. I yield to no one in my love of inspirational quote jpegs on Facebook, but eventually you need to log out, and what you do after clicking the log out button matters one whole hell of a lot.