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Last month, I said I needed some time off. I was feeling kind of burned out on writing.  No, it was worse than that.  I was finding all sorts of problems in my manuscript.  Lots of little, annoying problems, and I felt overwhelmed.  I was angry with myself.  I felt deeply disappointed with myself.

So I took a break from my regular writing schedule.  And during that break, I got a surprise in the mail.  It came from… well, I guess you’ll see who it came from:

To J.S. Pailly, my dearest friend,

Hello, past me!  It is I, J.S. Pailly.  I’m you from the future!

I’m writing to let you know that in the future, everything will be okay.  Well, maybe not everything.  You won’t believe who’s President now (oh yes, it can get worse!).  But in your life and in your career, things will work out.

No, you’re not going to be the most famous writer in the world, and you certainly won’t be the wealthiest.  But you’ll do well enough to get by writing full time.  It’s a good life. It’s a good career.  You’ll be happy, which really is the most important thing.

Now I am not going to tell you how, exactly, you made it.  I won’t say what your big break will be.  I won’t tell you which of your books will sell well and which will flop. I don’t want to spoil the surprise!  And honestly, you’ll be better off not knowing in advance.  You’ll learn more that way.

But I do want to let you in on one secret to your future success.  This is perhaps the single most important thing your future self could tell you: stop worrying about the details!!!  You have a tendency to obsess over the little stuff.  Is it okay to end this sentence with an exclamation point?  Should that word be italicized?  Does this line of dialogue really need a dialogue tag?

You agonize over this stuff as if one semicolon will make or break your entire writing career.  It won’t.  Trust me.  I am you from the future, and I’m writing to let you know that none of the stuff you’re worried about right now will matter.  None of it!

Now get back to writing.  Your future depends on it.

Yours truly,
J.S. Pailly
(from the actual future!)

P.S.: Next time you go to that Chinese place (you know the one I mean), get the walnut chicken, not the beef and broccoli.  No, seriously.  This is important!

I’m not sure how seriously I should take this.  Here’s a picture of the actual letter, and, well… that does look like my handwriting.

But this can’t be real, can it?  Someone’s got to be playing a trick on me.  I don’t know. But one thing’s for sure: I will be having the walnut chicken for dinner tonight.

24 responses »

  1. I love everything about this.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Kate Rauner says:

    Nice of future-you to write. I find that when I’m insecure over a plot point or character point, I procrastinate by obsessing over commas and capitalizations. The entire day can disappear and I don’t have to tackle the real issues in my WIP. I worked hard so I must have done good! Hmm. My local place doesn’t have walnut chicken… do you think cashew chicken would work?

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      I guess that’s my problem too. Obsessing over little details can be a form of procrastination. Something I clearly need to work on in my writing process!

      I’m guessing it’s only important that I order the walnut chicken. Unless you get a similar note from your future self, feel free to get whatever you like!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Future self sounds like he has the right perspective. Honestly, I think the most important quality of writing is being clear. There’s a lot of stuff only editors or other writers care about. But if you look at some of the bestsellers, where criticism of the writing has been scathing, it’s clear that the critics are focusing on the wrong thing.

    Also, if the menu choice is that crucial, I think I might just skip that particular restaurant altogether.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      That’s basically what I’m thinking too: that clarity in writing is more important than whatever writing rules happen to be in vogue at the moment. As for the Chinese place I usually go… I just had a routine physical this morning, and I think my doctor would agree. I should probably just skip it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fran says:

    That’s so sweet! I hope the things bothering you go away soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ravenofiernan says:

    Ah, I would so love to get a letter like that 😉 But don’t skip the Chinese restaurant. Obviously, there’s an important clue in the Walnut Chicken, which is why you need to order it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. emaginette says:

    What a great post. I loved from beginning to end. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

  7. chemistken says:

    A letter from your future self sounds pretty iffy. It’s much more likely this is from your clone in a different dimension. Still, the advice sounds reasonable, so I’d consider taking it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      You’re right. I know from many years of watching Star Trek that messing with time is dangerous. My future self would surely know this too. A clone from another dimension might be a more plausible explanation for this.

      Like

  8. Juneta says:

    I absolutely loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. CareSA says:

    Would you say procrastination takes on many forms ?
    Nothing like a little self talk, to bring a clearer perspective – to others in the same boat.
    I’m a ‘pro-at-crastination’!
    Glad your’e back.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lol Strange. But there might be some truth to it. Who knows?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. debscarey says:

    Love it! Your future self is showing great coaching credentials 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your future self sounds wise. (Either that or you got really drunk and decided to prank yourself. XD)

    Liked by 1 person

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