Dear Aspiring Writer Jenny O'Connell

Dear Jennifer,

So you love to read. You like to write. And you think it would be fun to be an editor (remember when you were reading a book on the train to NYC and you pointed out to your mom all the typos it had, and it just so happened the man sitting in the row next to you worked for the publisher and gave you his business card and told you to let him know any time you found typos in his books, that was cool).

Well, I know you don't want to be a writer. And you will drop every English class in college because they killed your love of reading (except that one Freshman year that you suffered through, and yes, you will have to take a 1 credit course to eventually make up dropping those classes, but you will enjoy that semester of belly dancing your senior year). And when you graduate college and attend the Radcliffe Publishing Program, you will have every intention of moving to NYC to become an editor. But there's that damn boyfriend from college that you want to live with... so you will move out West. Bad move. The action is in New York for publishing, you fool! And that will be the end of your publishing career. And, after six months, the end of that boyfriend, too (although you will reunite with him 22 years later and get married, but that's a whole story in and of itself).

You'll go to business school and have a great career, and continue to read  because it's something you love. Then, one day, when you're 33 years old, you'll have a dream. And you'll wake up and think, "Hey, that's a rockin' book." And you'll write. And two months later you'll have a book written and you'll send it to an agent (see, attending the Radcliffe program actually did serve a purpose, you knew exactly how to get an agent and navigate the publishing process). And the agent will want to represent you. Two months later it will go out on submission and there will be a pre-empt offer (yea! none of that long waiting for decisions). And less than six months later your book will be featured at BEA and on shelves in bookstores and in magazines and you'll even be on CNN and other TV shows talking about it.

So, when you remember that night after college, when you were at a bar with your best friend and thinking about the boyfriend you no longer have (but who will actually be your husband 22 years later!), and what a waste of time it was to go to the Radcliffe Publishing Program (which will actually prepare you to get your fist book published really fast!), and how when she asked what you really, really wanted to do in your heart of hearts and you said, "I'd like to write books," and she responded, "Jennifer, you can't sit alone in a room and writes books all day." Well, just smile. And know that one day that's exactly what you'll do.

Your Younger Self


  1. I smiled all the way through this post.

  2. I loved this story and your winding way to both your publishing dream and your husband! Proof that we really can't have regrets because something comes of our every action!


Post a Comment