Dear Aspiring Writer:
This is your future self, telling 17-year-old you what to expect. You’ve just started sending stories out, and you’ve just made your first sale. Congratulations!
I need to tell you that it will be a long time until the next sale. A looong time. I don’t want to tell you exactly how long because I don’t want to discourage you, but it will be quite a few years.
But don’t give up hope, because it does happen. After you pull some stuff in your life together (hang in there during tough times; things do get better), after you stop looking for someone else to solve your problems, if you keep writing, a story you believe in will sell to a journal that you thought would be perfect for it.
And you will sell more after that. You will even publish a book. More than one, in fact.
But it will take a long time. Sometimes you’ll wonder if you should even keep trying. Sometimes you will doubt yourself. Actually, I need to tell you this part, too: after you publish again, you will still doubt yourself. Publishing doesn’t “fix” anything. It brings you much joy, interesting opportunities, and a little money. But it’s not a magic ticket to Trouble-Free Land.
When you reach the age that I am now, you will wish that an even-older-you would drop by another letter, telling you how the rest of this journey plays out.
On the other hand, maybe we don’t need to know everything in advance.