Last week, I was in Hawaii. Be jealous. Be very jealous. While sitting on a beach doing a whole lot of nothing, I struck up a conversation with two women sitting next to me. We talked about their kids, their husbands, their careers, and eventually, one of them asked what I like to do for fun.
Still, most teen authors can't be Kody Keplinger. Usually when I come across a young writer, they've self published their work as ebooks. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But it's not what I want for my stories. With unpublished writers, the writer part matters far more than the unpublished.
"I love writing. I have three blogs and I write books for fun."
"How many books have you written?"
"Five, and I'm working on my sixth."
"Oh, really? You've got five books published?"
"No. I've got five books sitting on my computer taking up storage space."
She promptly lost interest and went back to talking about her children.
I get this a lot. You'd think my age would turn people away from this question, but it doesn't. Do people ask eighteen year old artists when they'll have their work in galleries?
When I was twelve, I thought I'd be this child prodigy who got published at sixteen and paid all my college fees with book royalties. Ha! That didn't happen. I didn't finish a book until I was fifteen years and eleven months old. Two years and four books later, I'm still not published. But I'm happy where I am.
Publishing brings an enormous amount of pressure. I'm not talking about deadlines and editors. Authors have to travel for book signings and school visits. They have to stay active on social media to increase readership. I'm not ready to put in that kind of time and effort. I'm content to hole up in my bedroom and vomit words onto paper.
Some people do publish young. There are the big names, like S.E. Hinton, Christopher Paolini, and Mary Shelley if you want to go back that far. Kody Keplinger wrote The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend in high school. She signed with an agent at seventeen and it hit shelves when she was nineteen. That was four years ago. This February, you can see it on the big screen.