Writerly Life

What I Wish I’d Known Then…

I found FundsForWriters over three years ago when I became disabled and started considering writing as a new career option. Since then I have followed C. Hope Clark through her websites (see the links below), blog, and Facebook. I have learned much from her and am always encouraged. Today I am excited that Hope Clark offered to guest post for my blog, and that I get to share her words with you. She was even gracious enough to let me suggest a topic. Thanks Hope!!  ~~KM

by C. Hope Clark
by C. Hope Clark

It’s human nature to look back and wish we could start over with what we know now. How many times have you said, “Wish I were years younger with the knowledge I have now”?

I’m a person who strongly preaches moving forward without regret, saving all that energy ruing mistakes to instead make strides forward. But I swear, some days I still feel like a newbie in this business. Someone becomes successful, and I marvel at their resourcefulness, maybe even envious, wondering if I could’ve done that myself. Then I remind myself that someone out there probably thinks I’m resourceful. There’s always someone ahead of us or behind us, who chooses methods of his own. Which leads me to the biggest, most major lesson I wish I could tell myself back when I first started in this business . . .

  There is no one right way to be a writer.

Like every other newbie, I hunted high and low for the best route to be a professional writer. We can self-publish, hybrid publish, ebook publish and traditionally publish. We can also write literary and genre fiction. We can write for magazines and write a novel. We can write grants and write creatively. The people I distrust the most preach they know the single trick to writing success. What works for them might not fit you. The timing might have been perfect for that person, and too outdated for you now. So many factors and so many paths. No two writers following the same road, which leads me to the second lesson I wish I’d freely practiced:

  Make mistakes, and learn from them.

When I speak to groups today, invariably I’ll talk about a fiasco, mistake or funny incident that taught me a lesson. A road taken that didn’t serve me well. I mention faux pas more than my successes. Why? Because the low points taught me more than the highs. Our floundering makes us think, struggle, and try harder to climb out of the mire. That fight builds muscle. Those are the crossroads of our lives, and the more we goof up, the more discoveries we make . . . and the stronger and wiser we grow. I’d tell myself to allow more mistakes, try different directions. As a minimum, mistakes teach us knowledge, instilling in us an intelligence not found in a handbook or guide. Which leads me to the final lesson I’d beat into my former self’s head:

Write daily with a vengeance.

That evening spent untangling extension cords. That afternoon spent watching foodie shows. Those hours thrown away movie surfing. Time that could’ve been invested into a thousand more words or a new chapter. Time when I could’ve edited my novel, and, therefore, submitted it sooner to agents. In the early days I wrote when the muse supposedly sat on my shoulder. In looking back, I’m angry at that victim mentality that required some sort of excuse to sit my butt down to write. Our stories aren’t supposed to be easy, and waiting for those days is like waiting for the perfect weather to exercise. You don’t get in shape waiting for the pretty days to run. You run through the rain, the cold and the heat.

But it is what it is. We become wise as we age, sometimes from the hard knocks and often just from maturity and common sense. To waste time crying over our mistakes steals time from possible accomplishments. Okay, take a second to belittle your childish, younger self, but take only a second. Because to devote time to the past robs you of your future.3books


C. Hope Clark is author of the award-winning Carolina Slade Mystery Series and editor of FundsforWriters.com, chosen by Writer’s Digest in its 101 Best Websites for Writers. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com



12 thoughts on “What I Wish I’d Known Then…”

  1. Thank you, Kathryn for inviting Hope as a guest blogger – she’s always inspiring and intelligent.

  2. Love the stories of how Hope has influenced writers. We are of many! Nice topic too. Looking back delivers a distilled truth. As always, good post, Hope!

    1. Wow, wish I’d said that! “Looking back delivers a distilled truth.”

  3. “Because the low points taught me more than the highs.” This is so true–times of suffering and pain, or rejection and discouragement–are bedrock material. Hope, thanks for this most-truthful reminder–not to wish away life’s valleys. Hope, you could be one of those ‘life-coaches’! You could be billing us all for your plentiful, freely dispensed wisdom! Thank you for sharing freely from your life.

  4. Everyone is different. However, a published writer friend of mine said something once that resonated with me. He said, “Write, write, and write some more. When you get through your first million word of mediocrity, your inner author and talent will finally shine.” I THINK YOU ALREADY SHINE KATHRYN… million words or not. However, I think authors become better over time as they refine their style. You are just going to get better and better! I also love the last line you wrote about “devote time to the past robs you of your future”. I am going to embrace that and hopefully remember how eloquently you conferred that message.

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