Send in the Publishing Kit

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I am enough.

A few weeks ago, I totally thought I believed this about myself. I mean, hello, I’ll make a fart joke in some pretty inappropriate places. (Years ago at a funeral, guys. SORRY NOT ANYTHING BUT SORRY.) That kind of thing takes confidence.

But, I realized something the other day; when it comes to writing, I’m still petrified.

Something you need to know before we go back in time: My parents give cool gifts. They’re usually things that I’ve never thought to ask for, but they’re always a reflection on how much they know me. It’s all very Leslie Knope.

When I was ten or eleven, the amazing gift was a publishing kit.

I was supposed to write a story on this special paper, send it off to the company, and wait for it to come back as a book, with binding and everything. Totally awesome gift, right?

I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. At the time, I was living off the writing-glory fumes of a picture book, “Man in the Clouds,” that I had written at age seven. This felt like my chance to make a comeback.

I was so excited about it. I wrote fifteenish story options to consider for “publication.”

But… I never sent in that kit.

I felt like none of the stories were “good enough.” I felt like they were all unworthy, and I didn’t want to waste my super-cool gift on a story that wasn’t good enough.

And fifteen years later, it’s still unused.

How freaking sad is that? Sad enough that I might be crying a little bit right now.

I’m crying because here’s what I want to say to that kid: Little girl, you’re being dumb. How could you think that they’re not good enough?  I get that they might be Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter FanFiction (after all, Orlando Bloom’s portrayal of Legolas was the love of your life), but just go for it. Your dreams are good enough. You’re good enough.

This reminds me of My Mad Fat Diary. Have you seen My Mad Fat Diary? If not, put it at the top of the never-ending list of things to watch. At the end of season two, there’s this scene where Rae realizes that she would never say all the crap she says to herself now to a version of herself ten years ago. It’s profound and emotional and holy cow does it resonate. How I talk to the ten-year-old writing fanfic? That should be how I talk to myself now, right? So, why don’t I?

I found the publishing kit a couple of months ago, while cleaning. It was under my bed with other things I never use like old cello music. #humblebrag  And when I saw it, I thought, “Thank goodness I don’t do that anymore. Thank goodness I believe in myself now.”

But then, I realized that I’ve been leaving publishing kits unfinished my entire life. I’ve been saying things like “it’s not quite good enough,” “it’s not quite there,” “maybe the next story” for forever.

But a few times, I’ve been brave. There have been moments—incredible moments!—when I allowed myself to think my writing was enough, and amazing things happened: A VFW writing award at eight (yeah, I went there)! Teachers telling me I could be a writer! Two MFA acceptance letters! An interview for Conan! An interview with John Green! An associate producer! The FAC! This freaking blog!

Cool stuff happens when I say, “Look, self-doubt, I can’t play with you anymore. You’re pretty uncool, and I actually am good enough. Nice try.”

And the cool stuff is cool, even among the plethora of rejection letters. The cool stuff is worth the rejection. Heck, sometimes the cool stuff is the rejection.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that even when I haven’t read all that much lately, even when I didn’t write every day from age five, even when I am too dumb, too fat, too poor—I am enough. All that other crap is just crap trying to keep me down. No more. I’m going to let my light shine LIKE THE DEMIGOD FROM CAMP HALF-BLOOD THAT I AM!

(Warning: My confidence may have gone too far.)

(Confession: I once made a Facebook account for Perseus Jackson… Then I made him my Facebook boyfriend.)

It’s not just about saying that I believe in myself anymore. It’s about acting on it too.

So, in the next month-ish, I’m going to send this manuscript out: a real, all-or-nothing effort.

I might fall flat on my ass.

I will surely be rejected. Multiple times.

People might hate it and by some warped extension, think less of me.

BUT I’M DOING IT ANYWAY.

I know this might not sound like a lot. I’ve got friends who have been doing this (in full-force) for YEARS.

But I’m not going to let how it sounds belittle it in my mind. Not anymore.

I’m going for it, even when I don’t feel ready or smart or accomplished. And I guess I’m saying this because I hope you’re going for it too. Whatever your dream is. It’s time.

Fill the pages. Send in the publishing kit. Do it all over again. It’s enough.

(Editor’s Note (from Hilary, let’s get real): I almost didn’t publish this post because I thought it was choppy and confusing, and then I was like HILARY, YOU’RE DOING IT AGAIN!!!!)

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Things You Learned While Writing a Manuscript:

Microsoft Word’s default setting is a zoom of 100%. You need to change this. Changing this means changing your life because you are now old and need 150%.

It’s okay that you don’t like Scrivener.

You haven’t spent enough time learning Scrivener. That’s the reason you don’t like it.

Giving yourself permission to write a crappy book is really freeing. You may find that it allows you to write a not-so-crappy book.

Writing a book is hard.

Writing a book is possible.

Writing a book is fun and dreadful. It is work and play.

Amazing things happen when you do something for one hour every day. One hour, Hil. An hour a day!

It matters less how you write a book; it matters more that you write it. That’s always the more important thing.

Writing a book in a month, while a month for the books (ha), is not sustainable for your entire life. Really. No, seriously. Don’t do this again (until next year).

When you’re feeling extra dreadful and don’t want to “burden” other people, “burden” inspiring podcasts and books before “burdening” inspiring movies.

Go to these podcasts first: Magic Lessons, The Narrative Breakdown, and The City Church.

Go to any book first.

You won’t miss wasting time every evening after a while.

You can do real-life work in far less time when you strategize.

You have to plan lunches. Like, go to the grocery already. Make the muffins. Buy the water bottle. (Use the water bottle.)

Writing isn’t alway magic, but it definitely isn’t when you don’t show up.

You’re allowed to dream big. You’re allowed to be different. You’re allowed to write in whatever genre you want.

You’re allowed to not know what in the world you’re doing, and you’re allowed to do it anyway.

You’re going to make mistakes. SO MANY MISTAKES. It’s all learning, okay?

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