Letter to my younger writing self – Lisa Dickenson

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By Jade Craddock

After our summer holidays, what better way for We Heart Writing to kick back off than with one of our all-time favourite authors, Lisa Dickenson, writing a letter to her younger writing self. ♥

Hey you,

I see you sitting there, a teen dreaming about being an author, about working anywhere in the world, creating stories and lives and adventures.  I see you picturing a cat on your lap and a view from your window.  I see you there, on your blow-up chair, with your purple walls and your Friends posters, struggling to know if you’d be good enough, or interesting enough.  I see you thinking ‘it’s too hard, it’s never going to happen’.

Well guess what, sweetheart?  It happens.  This week, at age 35, you have your fifth paperback coming into the world.  Granted, it’s a dog, not a cat, who is trying to sit on your lap, and he’s the size of a grizzly bear so it stops rather than aids your writing.  And it’s not been easy – you still have a full-time job because you don’t make enough money to only be an author and work from anywhere in the world.  So we’re still dreaming, you and I, but I want to tell that confused, doubting girl a few things.

Work hard, read lots, and push yourself to finish the projects you start.  I know you don’t know the right decisions to make now, but your passion for learning will come, and you don’t need to change a thing to get your foot in the door of your dream career.

We’re going to live a good life, an interesting life, and it’s going to inspire so many sparkles of thoughts that you’ll grow a million book ideas.  You’ll teach dancing in London, live for a summer in San Francisco, make a home by the sea, host female-empowerment events, laugh for years over memories made when you backpacked Australia with your friend Ellie.  You’ll watch the sunrise over the Great Wall of China, you’ll be proposed to in New York City, you’ll see the world, make your mark, write at least seven books, and I want you to never lose that sense of adventure.  Keep taking risks, don’t play it safe.  Am I talking to you now, or me?

But also, start saving now because you’re going to spend a lot of money on somebody called Beyonce.

Characters and representation are important.  Know the true definition of feminism as soon as you can, and never be ashamed to stand up for yourself, or others.  A book can have an impact on someone, so make that count.  Don’t you dare find yourself saying you ‘just write chick lit’, and also, please think carefully about the words you use in life, because you don’t ever want to tear anyone else down.

Even when the world’s gone to shit, when your mum is poorly or you’re stung by a bad review, you’re going to find it tough but know that you’ll get through it.  Keep pouring your energies into building up yourself, your family, your fellow sisters, and anyone that needs sunshine in the world.

The pot belly won’t go away so just stop worrying about it.  You’ll have a dog and a husband who love every inch of you, and though 20 years down the line you still might not love yourself completely, you will know that a little podge really, honestly, absolutely doesn’t matter. 

And don’t worry about trying to video tape all those Friends episodes, because in the future you’ll have this amazing thing on your TV called Netflix, and every single episode will be waiting for you.  And you’ll still watch them, and still love them, nearly every day.  They haven’t added the Sweet Valley High TV series though, so you better keep taping those for now.

Keep being kind, keep being optimistic, stay in touch with your school friends because they’re the friends you’ll love the most, and DO follow your gut when someone says you can’t achieve something, and you think you can.  Because you’re right, you little ginger dreamer, you can do it.  And you do.

Loads of love,

Future Lisa xx

Lisa Dickenson lives by the Devon seaside, stuffing cream teas in the gobs of anyone who comes to visit and writing stuff down that she hopes is funny.  Her first novel was the copyright-infringing Sweet Valley Twins: The Twins Holiday Horror, which she wrote in primary school and gave up on after five pages. Twenty-ish years later Lisa wrote the Novelicious Debut of the Year, The Twelve Dates of Christmas, and never looked back. Her new novel, My Sisters and Me, is out now.


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