Hey, there. You’ve always wanted to be an author. A published author. And most days, you think, yes, I’ll get there. You love writing. You know it’s what you were born to do. You believe in your heart that one day, there will be a beautiful book in the shops with your name on it. And you work hard at it. So hard!
And you’re resilient. You pick yourself up after rejections, you bounce back up, you find another option, another possibility, another reason to hope it’ll happen. But occasionally, when yet another manuscript gets rejected, when yet another story fails to get into a competition shortlist, when you are working at yet another crappy menial job to earn a derisory bit of money in between frantically typing up yet another query letter, you think, maybe that nagging little voice in the glum depths of writer limbo is right. It’s too hard.
‘Get a job,’ it hectors, ‘Have a proper career, with real prospects. This dream of becoming a published, professional author, it’s just that. It’s not real life. Sure, keep writing in your spare time. Enjoy it as a hobby. Don’t be such a dreamer. Don’t expect anything more.’
It’s true. You are a dreamer. But you’re stubborn as well as dreamy, right? You’re not going to listen to that nagging voice. And you’re right not to, because that combination of stubborn dreaminess, or dreamy stubbornness, it’s going to get you there.
It’s going to get you into the life you’ve dreamed about since you were a little girl sitting in a patch of sunlight under your grandmother’s window, a picture book of fairy tales on your lap, dreaming not only of the other worlds you’re plunged into, but also of how amazing it is to tell stories. How later it feels like that’s your favourite thing in the world, natural as breathing, and how it helps you to cope with the complicated, unpredictable situation of your family life, your position as a child caught between two worlds, two languages, many loyalties.
You’ve not forgotten the look on the faces of your little brothers and sisters as you wove stories for them, all of you under the big dining-room table draped with the old velvet curtain. You felt like Scheherazade then, both thrilled with the power of it and uneasy too, the sweetest scariest rush of feeling, like going high on a swing with your head right back so the blood rushes to your head.
You grew up but you still felt like Scheherazade, creating stories as though your very life depended on it. And that’s a pretty powerful thing.
So don’t stop dreaming. Because one day, one unheralded, ordinary day, you’re going to get a card from the post office telling you there’s a parcel waiting for you. You’re going to open that parcel and find your manuscript—not rejected as you feared, but adorned, crowned, transformed with a letter from a publisher saying, ‘Thank you for sending us your novel. We love it and we’d like to offer you…’
You won’t look back. You’ll go on that road you always knew was in front of you, that road which your heart told you from childhood you were destined for. You’ll be a published author.
But you know what, dear unpublished self? It’s just the first stage. For that road isn’t a smooth highway. There are many forks in it. Dead ends. Paths that look so promising but peter out into mud or that try to hurl you over cliffs.
Yet there are also unexpected exciting tracks, beautiful diversions, sudden turnings to make your head spin. It will be a wild ride, an amazing adventure. You will learn so much, and not all of it will be uplifting 😊.
But hold fast.
And never give up!
Born in Indonesia of French parents, and brought up in France and Australia, Sophie Masson AM is the award-winning and internationally-published author of over 60 books for children, young adults and adults. Her latest books (all 2019) include a historical novel for older readers, War and Resistance (Scholastic Australia), as well as three picture books, There’s a Tiger Out There (illustrated by Ruth Waters, Little Hare); On my Way (illustrated by Simon Howe, Scholastic Australia) and Join the Armidale Parade (illustrated by Kathy Creamer, Little Pink Dog Books). A former Chair of the Australian Society of Authors and current Chair of the New England Writers’ Centre, Sophie is a recent (2019) PhD graduate from the University of New England, and a founding partner and publishing director of acclaimed children’s book publisher, Christmas Press.
In 2019, Sophie received an AM (Member, General Division) award in the Order of Australia, with her citation reading ‘For significant service to literature as an author, publisher, and through service to literary organisations.’