A Letter to the Past

Here’s another post from my defunct writers blog,
and it is updated and edited with permission of me.

Dear younger me –

Hello from 2019! No, I’m not joking. This is a letter written more than forty years after your first serious attempt to novelize your life. Still have doubts it’s you/me? How about a tale of a lad’s “love” for his music teacher. Ah, your doubts have disappeared, and you believe I am you and you are me. Good. I’ve some news to drop on you, and as you equate truth to respect, I’m going to respect your brains out.

The harshest truth is you are not a successful writer. You’re not even breaking even. Remember how your middle school math teacher used a classroom modem to connect to the university computer? What you could not possibly know is remote computing would revolutionize civilization. Everybody in the United States and much of the world will have the option to interconnect their computers (at home!), and everyone will be a force for information.

One industry transformed more than most is writing and publication. Hundreds of thousands of authors will write their Great American Novel and electronically self-publish it for pennies per page. Their final work may or may not be good, but the literary landscape will be overwhelmed with books. You’ll do the same, of course, because you love shortcuts. Your books will appear with some fanfare, mostly among your very small band of family and friends, then be absorbed with nary a bubble to show for your weeks of work. You will spend hundreds in return for money to buy five Happy Meals.

Painful? It gets worse. I’ve reread some of your/my earlier attempts at writing. It sucks. Seriously. Okay, don’t believe me. But your writing sucks. I see between the lines that you have a decent story in there…somewhere…but it’s lost in the noise. You’re wandering all over the map because you can’t pick your genre. Military, science fiction, romance, or what? Pick something! And that’s not even your worst offense. Your writing technique is sloppy. You’re using adverbs like they’re your best friends, and you’re ignoring basic sentence structure. Stephen King can get away with it. When you’re at his level, we’ll talk.

Until that day comes, keep writing. Write every damn day. Don’t listen to the critics or your so-called friends. Looking back, I can see they were more interested in suppressing your ego than giving you wings. You’re genuinely and fabulously weird, and as my doctor recently told me, normal people don’t change the world.

It’s not all bad news. Some people believe in you as an author, then and now, and they will continue to inspire you. My advice is you jettison your ego and listen to them! You won’t, because you’re me, and you think you/I have all the answers. Forty years later and I’ve learned I don’t have all the answers, and that there’s no shame in asking for help.

We’re past the 500-word mark here, and I’ve lost your attention, so I’m going to start my flying car and pick up my dates for the night (Sophia Loren’s younger clones). Before I do, do me a favor and hold onto those LPs under your bed, especially Led Zeppelin IV. Man, kids today have no real sense of good music. Ciao!

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