Some years in the writing life are better than others. A few years ago I was having a bad one. My draft of The Best Kind of People wasn't working out. I wasn't sure it was ever going to be good enough to be published, and I was running out of time and money. I'd just found out I was not being asked back to the first TV show I had been working on - something very common in the TV industry but I had no idea - and my relationship was on the fritz. Did I mention I was also a 38-year-old human woman? Right. This is a tender time, when a lot of women buy endless amounts of under-eye miracle creams even though they understand no cream works against genetics and gravity. It's a real make-it-or-break-it kind of age. I was depressed and so my friends took me out to see some comedy. As soon as an adorable, stylish young woman took the stage, my friends began to text me things that basically amounted to: "Wow, she looks like a much younger, thinner version of you! Weird eh?" and "I hear Lena Dunham blurbed her first book!" This was my introduction to Monica Heisey. Soon after, her similarly cute and funny husband also took the stage. I kind of felt like dying, even though she was telling a story about having food poisoning on a plane. I googled "paralegal schools" on the way home.
Like most instances of dumb career envy, it faded once we met on a TV job later that year, and now I'm just her biggest fan.
What do you wish you'd known?
I wish I'd known that you can push back about choices that matter to you and your book. Obviously you're not putting this thing out alone and considering the experience and advice of your publisher is important, but it's also your name on the cover and your uncomfortable photo on the back: if something isn't sitting right with you, it's worth mentioning that you'd like to consider other alternatives. I got some cover artist recommendation from friends rather than through my publisher, and they led me to Jenn Kitagawa, who made something just perfect.
What advice do you have to emerging writers?
My advice to emerging writers is to have friends who aren't writers. They can help you figure out when something is a real problem and when something is a writer baby bubble problem, ie not really that big a deal. Also you can steal from their lives for your books and they won't be mad because they're not hoarding experiences for their own.
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.