As long as you haven’t murdered anyone or sent out your manuscript too early, then there’s not too much you should redo in life (unless you’re Keenan Powell who clearly missed at least twelve opportunities to become a billionaire).
Dwelling on failures will drive a person to crippling self doubt and copious amounts of junk food. For instance, student loans. This month’s theme, “What I wish I’d known,” made me think of the $40,000 in interest I’ve paid on a degree I don’t use. Let’s not mention that again. It’s almost as disturbing to consider all those those manuscripts I sent out too early. I remember the first query I sent. I was getting breakfast ready for the kids and making coffee. Suddenly, I was all like: Does this querying thing even work? Will NYC people even respond to me? Why am I spending every spare minute writing this book? Who am I and what is the point of life on earth? So, I sent a query to a big fancy literary agent. Within ten minutes she asked to see the full manuscript. Oops. The manuscript in question was filled with comment bubbles, 10,000 words too long, and generally sucked. It also started with a dream sequence, a wake-up, and looking in the mirror. Strangely, that part was in the sample I sent her, so maybe people don’t hate that stuff as much as they say they do?
I clearly could have done a billion things better, at least ten things yesterday. For instance, when my husband offered to watch the kids so I could work, I should have said yes. I wish I could go back in time and redo that one, especially now that the kids are home sick today. Anyways, you can’t spend your whole life second guessing yourself, particularly with writing. Who doesn’t have a book that could have been amazing if only we were a little smarter, better, and knew the vampire genre was already dead.
Speaking of literary trends–being too late or too early to a trend must be on most writer’s “If I’d only known” list. Personally, I’m late to everything. I’m currently working on a ghost book only to find that “ghosts are out.” I think technology and social media is at fault for some of this. Just a guess, but it seems like trends emerge and die at pretty much the same pace that Apple introduces iPhones. What can you do? Unless you happen to start the next trend, you just have to write the best book you can and hope that someone wants to read it. Although, I don’t recommend trying to resuscitate a dead genre. Just write a good book and don’t give up.
Everyone has something they should have known. The key is to avoid becoming that old lady telling everyone who comes over for coffee about her one missed chance, as if it was the only chance. Just keep making mistakes. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is stumbling from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm.” If nothing else, that quote validates my current approach to life and writing, so I’m going with it.