On a lot of occasions this year I’ve asked myself why I wanted to become an author in the first place. I didn’t feel as if I was cut out for the criticism, and I was too nervous and awkward to go to those parties that literary people go to, and talk to rooms full of kids my own age as if I knew something. I hadn’t metamorphosed from the Very Awkward Caterpillar into an outgoing and fearless butterfly. I was still myself, and felt more unsure than I ever had before. I thought that holding the finished book in my hands would be the moment when everything became clear, or that everything would be different on publication day.
I wondered why I wanted to become an author, because it didn’t feel that fantastic – just more stress and more pressure and parties to go to that I was too young for (and continue to be too young for, why am I saying this in past tense?).
And this sounds all terribly ungrateful, but this was how I felt. Reality did not meet my expectations. I just worried a lot.
But then, this week, I’ve remembered why I wanted to be an author. I've realised how glorious to know that other people have read and enjoyed your work. It's the best feeling.
I got an email from my Grade Six teacher, telling me he thought the book was excellent. I got a text from a good friend, expressing her love for the book, and telling me it was beautiful and sad. My mum’s best friend cried and laughed while reading it, and her 12-year-old daughter thought it was awesome. Lots of other friends told me how much they loved it. Everyone is telling me how proud they were.
And just as wonderful (if not more wonderful) were all the people I didn’t know.
Last night I received a beautiful email from a girl whose book I signed after my MWF session on Wednesday, telling me how much she enjoyed the book, and my speech, and that she was inspired and proud. It was wonderful, and I almost cried. I’ve got Facebook messages (one girl said that my book is in her top ten books of all time, and a lot more told me how inspired they were after seeing my panels, or reading my book) of pure loveliness. I’ve gotten touching reviews from adults and teenagers.
And at Melbourne and Brisbane Writers Festival, everyone – lots of teenagers – listening to the stuff I had to say even if I thought it was totally weird and rambling. And some of them maybe being affected by that, and deciding not to listen to the crap they get told about young people not being able to do awesome things, and just going and doing awesome things instead. And after my session at Brisbane, on my own, teenagers coming up and chatting to me, and telling me about themselves and their writing and what they thought.
And, you know, it’s late, as I’m writing this. And it’s been a big week and I’m a little bit sleep-deprived and I’m listening to Snow Patrol and everything is seeming especially profound. And I’ve got too much schoolwork to do and a book to write and a lot to feel uncertain about and worry over, but it’s okay right now. And I feel sure of the fact that I’ve done the right thing, this author thing, and that I’m probably the luckiest girl in Australia. Possibly the entire Southern hemisphere. And I know that the criticism and the angst and everything I put into this book was worth it. And I hope that I can keep doing this author thing.
I am filled with a sense of possibility.
If you’ve read and enjoyed my book, please email me and let me know. If you want to. It’ll make my life.