As Long As It Takes

Letter To My Unpublished Self
by Carrie Duffy


Dear Carrie,

The good news is that it is going to happen. You will be a published author one day, just like you’ve always wanted to be. Hurray! The bad news is that it’s going to take a long time. A very long time. Over a decade in fact. But I know that you’ll keep going for as long as it takes – whether because of some crazy, irrepressible self-belief or because you’re a total masochist. I’m not sure which.

You start writing seriously at university, submitting your work to agents and thus beginning ten long years of rejection. You try different stories, different styles, different agents, and you get close, more than once. Close, but no cigar, as they say. I know you won’t see this as a positive at the time, but in the end you’ll be grateful for it. Those ten years of rejection mean ten more years of writing practice, of life experience, of figuring out what genre you’re passionate about.

One great piece of advice I would give you is to network more. Yes, I know you hate that word, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Go to meetings, join organisations, get on Facebook and Twitter – anywhere that you can meet other writers and agents and publishers. As a writer, you’re fairly solitary by nature, and you shy away from putting yourself out there like that. You’ll only admit your ambitions to family and close friends, afraid that you won’t be taken seriously. Ironically, it’s only once you’re published that you’ll discover all these fantastic resources for aspiring writers.


And when it does finally happen – that wonderful, magical, long-dreamed-of moment when you actually get a publishing deal – take the time to enjoy it! You’ve had so many knock-backs that you almost don’t dare to celebrate. When a friend offers to buy you a bottle of champagne on the night you get your offer, you turn her down because you’re terrified you’ll jinx it. You’ll soon learn (when you’ve spent weeks slaving away at your laptop, rarely seeing the outside world) that these moments of excitement and celebration can be few and far between, so embrace them fully. After all, a glass of champagne never hurt anyone.

Carrie x

Carrie grew up in North Yorkshire before moving to Paris at the age of eighteen. After a year spent learning French, she returned to England to train as an actress. She has worked professionally as both an actor and dancer, and she currently lives in west London. She is the author of Idol and Diva.

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