What I Wish Young Writers Knew
Age Doesn’t Matter
Yes, you read that correct. I said (or typed) “Age doesn’t matter.” It doesn’t, okay? Let me back up. Of course age matters in some things. I’m not saying it’s a good idea to drink at fourteen. I’m not. Please don’t do that. But in writing, age does not matter. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I think I really started becoming serious about it in middle school. I started writing this story that ended up filling up three or four notebooks. Yeah, it was ridiculous. But that’s not the point. I stopped writing that story after a while and moved on to other things. In high school, maybe ninth or tenth grade, I wrote my first full-length novel. It’s a little short, but nothing too crazy. After that, I couldn’t stop. I loved writing and I was determined I wanted to publish my book. I wanted to be an author.
So I started researching. I read blogs from authors and advice for writers and all sorts of stuff. And occasionally, someone would address the issue of young authors. And they’d always say things like, “You need to wait to publish until you’re older.” “You’re writing isn’t good enough.” “You’ll look back at those stories later and realize they suck.” And that was so disheartening. Everywhere I looked, everyone said, slow down, wait, you’re not old enough, you’re not good enough. At first, it was enough to make me stop researching. And then the anger seeped in. And the stubbornness. I’m notoriously stubborn. And I decided that I was going to publish my book. I was going to be an author, and I wasn’t going to wait fifteen years just because there was some sort of age requirement.
I started querying my first novel when I was 17 or 18 I think. And I actually had a decent amount of interest. I even had an offer for publication. In the end, I turned it down due to moral/creative differences between myself and the company, which is a perfectly fine thing to do, let me add. You don’t have to take the first contract offered to you. It’s important to find the right company to work with, because you’ll have to work very closely with them.
Anyways, around that time, I finished the Timekeeper, which is what the Duo started out as. I then learned it was way too long and still needed more detail and scenes, so I broke it into two books and finished editing Timekeeper Rising. I queried it for a while, but the idea of angels and demons seemed to turn everyone away. I believed in my book, though, and in myself, so with a lot of support, I decided to self-publish it anyway.
Here’s the part that applies to my point. I am twenty years old. I just turned twenty in May, actually. And I am publishing a book. I am an author. Now, does that suddenly mean all those authors and professionals were wrong, and my book isn’t crap? Well, I guess not technically. Not many people have read it yet, and you can publish anything these days. So, technically speaking, it could be absolutely dreadful. But I don’t think so. Several people have read it for me so far, and they all seem to love it. Is it the best book ever written? I sincerely doubt it. But is it good? Yeah, I think so.
I don’t doubt that one day I’ll look back at this book and think it could be better. But let me tell you a secret. I know of several authors who do that. They look back at the early books and it’s amazing to them to see how far they’ve come. And some authors won’t even look back at them, because they know their new books are way better (at least in their opinion). And these are real adults, guys, not fake adults like me. These people are thirty, forty, fifty years old, and they still do that same thing that people said teens would do. They look back at their early work and know it’s not as good as it could be. Why? Because they’ve grown. We all grow, especially as authors. The more we write, the more we read, the more advice, reviews, and comments we see, the more we learn, and the better our books become. So if this is true for adults, why can’t it be true for teens? Why does age have to matter?
It doesn’t. Age doesn’t matter. Maturity? Sure. Writing ability? Most definitely. But if you’re mature enough, dedicated enough, strong enough, and you have the writing ability, you can be an author. I don’t care if you’re fifteen or a hundred and fifteen. If you can write a good book that people enjoy, and you have tough enough skin and enough dedication to stick through all the unenjoyable businessy stuff of being an author, you can publish a book too, no matter your age. The point is a simple one: Age doesn’t matter. Ability does.
Allyssa Painter is the author of Timekeeper Rising, the first in the Timekeeper Duo. She graduated from Sissonville High School and attends Concord University for elementary and special education. She dreams of becoming an elementary teacher and continuing to touch the world around her through the novels she writes. In her free time, she enjoys reading fantastical adventures, spending time with her family, and capturing the world around her in photography and writing.