A Letter To My Unpublished Self
by Paige Toon
This is Paige, here, you know, your older, wiser, prettier (more deluded) self? How’s it goin’, Sheila?
I don’t know why I just said that. I didn’t say that sort of thing back then, and I don’t say it now. But this is all a little bit weird, writing to you and all that.
I’m guessing you work at heat magazine? Are you reviews assistant or reviews editor? I don’t suppose it really matters. The point is, you’re well on your way to following the dream we had when we were younger.
You remember that, right? We had a plan: to go into journalism first – maybe working for Dolly magazine in Australia – and then become an author when we got married and had kids so we could work from home.
Sounds pretty easy when you’re eleven, eh? But I bet you’re thinking part 2 of our plan is not going to be quite so straightforward.
Maybe by now you’re feeling a touch disillusioned, seeing all these books come in day after day for you to review. You’re thinking, ‘I have an idea for a novel, but how the hell am I supposed to string it out into 110k words? How did all these authors do it? Do I have it in me? And even if I could write that much, will it be any good?’
You also have the words of one of your seniors at your first magazine job ringing in your head. When she asked what you hoped for from your career and you replied that you’d love to be an author, she said, not unkindly, believe it or not: ‘That’s such a journalist cliche, everyone wants to write a book.’
So you shut up about it after that. And for years, you keep it to yourself, knowing deep inside that if you fail, it will be the biggest regret of your life.
It’s awful, wanting something so much that you’re almost too terrified to try. You continue to have the utmost respect for all the people who contact you, telling you they’ve written a book and are now trying to get it published.
The other day, I was watching a film, which was pretty crappy, it has to be said. But there was a quote in it: ‘What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Now do it.’
Yes, I know it’s corny, but it’s pretty good, right?
Well, guess what? You don’t fail. So now all you have to do is go on and do it…
Lots of love,
Oh, you know who.
Paige Toon was born in 1975 and grew up between England, Australia and America. A philosophy graduate, she worked at teen, film and women’s magazines, before ending up at Heat magazine as Reviews Editor. Paige is married, has two small children and lives in Cambridge.