Letter to my younger writing self with Lucy Dillon

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By Jade Craddock

Today sees the launch of a brand-new feature from We Heart Writing, Letter to My Younger Writing Self, which as the title suggests will see authors penning advice to their younger selves. We’re delighted to have Lucy Dillon kick us off.

Dear Lucy,

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T GET BROADBAND INTERNET.

Only joking. (Sort of.)

Well, maybe get broadband internet but only in one room, and then get a lock for that room, and then give the key to someone who lives about 15 miles away from your house so you have to jog to get it and…

Fine, so you’re going to get broadband, but treat it like the deadline-gobbling crack that it is. Don’t register for Mumsnet, no matter how useful a resource it might be for character names, and parenting secrets none of your friends will tell you, and all those billions of handy hints about tackling rosacea, and puppy-training, and getting duvets on double quick. And realising that no matter how unlikely you suspect your plot might be, there will be at least seven people out there who have had something even weirder happen to them. Or at the very least, someone their neighbour was at school with.

Sigh. Go on then, but don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

By all means sign up for book review sites but only so you can review books. Pour your creative energies into making the story you’re now writing the best it can be, not on wondering how people you’ve never met have spotted every single thing you just knew was wonky about the plot. Not everyone likes everything. That’s fine. Remember how you still haven’t finished Birdsong? (Newsflash: you still won’t have finished Birdsong ten years on. Sorry. But you do keep trying. And it’s a stone cold classic.)

Real life time spent with friends, on the other hand….  Go for it. Get out of the house as much as you can. There are ideas and experiences and intriguing details floating around everywhere. And don’t forget to write them down. It doesn’t matter if you don’t use them at once; they sprout in your head like cress. (Maybe make a note if the intriguing detail has actually happened to a friend, though. Because… awkward.)  Print out your iPhone pics once in a while too. You have a habit of forgetting to back up your phone and – hello! – you run the risk of losing a ton of inspiration.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even when you think you know the answer. Maybe especially then. Prod your mum until she spills the family secrets; and make sure she writes on the back of photos.

Time spent talking with the experts is especially golden. Ask your agent questions about your contract, ask your editor for brainstorming sessions, ask the foreign rights team how different markets work. Understand the gritty mechanics of publishing, not just the part you do. You might think you look dumb asking about royalty escalators now, but believe me, asking when you’ve been nodding and pretending to understand for ten years will seem even dumber.

Plus, the usual stuff. Wear SPF50, push on with the C25K, keep handcream and 2L of water on the desk. Go ahead and get that doggo you’ve always wanted. 😉

Most of all, enjoy this incredible job that lets you learn every single day. And believe that you’ll still be doing it in 2018 – and loving it more than ever.

Lots of love

Lucy


Lucy Dillon lives in Herefordshire with her husband and their border terrier. She’s the author of eight novels, all set in the fictional Midlands town of Longhampton. Lucy won the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year award in 2009 for Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts and the RNA Contemporary Novel of the Year in 2015 for A Hundred Pieces of Me. She’s currently learning to play the ukulele. Her new novel, Where the Light Gets In, is out now.

lucydillon.co.uk

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