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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.
(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.