Nobody likes you when you’re 23

Every time someone mentions my next birthday, I have a mini quarter-life crisis (this usually involves fake crying and some shrieking).

I turn 24 in April. Just seeing the number makes me feel a little light-headed.

As I’ve (probably) mentioned, I first considered writing-as-a-career when I was 12. I’ve spent literally half my life dreaming about being an author, but I only started seriously writing last year.

When I did buckle down to write, I constantly heard the phrase “you’re young, you have lots of time.” And while I know that a lot of authors weren’t successful until they were “older”,  there is a disturbing amount of young authors (i.e. authors who were published before they hit 20). And by “disturbing”, I mean “I’m jealous”.

Last week, my parents showed me an article about Samantha Shannon. They meant it to be encouraging and supportive and consoled me: “you can do it!!”. Instead of feeling encouraged or supported or consoled, I felt depressed.

Samantha Shannon published her debut novel The Bone Season last year. It’s the first in a series of seven books (which I think is incredibly ambitious for a new author). She’s being hailed as the new J.K. Rowling, because her series is going to be the “Next Big Thing”. She’s only 21.

Or how about Tahereh Mafi? She’s a New York Times bestselling author. The much-anticipated final book in her trilogy is coming out next year. She’s 25. (side note: she also recently married Ransom Riggs, author of the fantastic Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which is being adapted into a Tim Burton (one of my heroes!) movie).

You know what doesn’t help my melancholy mood? Accidentally stumbling across this list. BECAUSE I’M TOO OLD TO MAKE IT ONTO A FUTURE VERSION OF THIS LIST.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t have lots of time. Sure, there are some authors who weren’t published until they were in their 30’s or 40’s. But more often than not, they either a) discovered a passion for writing later in life or b) worked somewhere in the book industry (publishing, editing, etc) before deciding to try their hand at a novel. Sadly, I don’t fall into either category.  So what’s my excuse?

Laziness, probably. Ambitions that had to be pushed aside when I didn’t get into grad school. Overwhelming fear at the idea of sending my book out to an agent or a publisher and being rejected (if thinking about my birthday makes me light-headed, thinking about sending out a query for my book makes me feel straight-up nauseated).

But those are all just excuses. Justifications. Reasons I tell myself not to send my book out, even though it’s pretty much done.

Starting in November, I’m going to change. I’m going to send out queries to agents. I’m going to write every day (I officially signed up for NaNoWriMo on Monday). I’m going to actually work toward my publishing goal instead of just talking about it.

And I guess I’ll see you on the other side.

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There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about:

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