Friday, September 4, 2015

Dear Totally Clueless Nonfiction Author Me

In this series of posts, my fellow TeachingAuthors and I are writing letters to our earlier selves a la Dear Teen Me.  As I’ve thought about what to write, it is clear to me that the contents of such a letter would vary greatly depending on the phase of life I considered.   A letter to my teen self would be very different from a letter to my newlywed self, or to my busy young mother self, or my empty nester self, or my newly-divorced-after-being-married-my-whole-adult-life self.

So the best approach for this assignment is to write a letter to the young woman I was years ago that decided to write a nonfiction book.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I had no idea where to start doing it.  And I had no idea how to finish doing it.   

But that didn't stop me.  

And I succeeded. 

So a letter to myself back then as I began what would become a long journey would go something like this:

Dear Carla,

You might not know what you are doing right now, but you will figure it out as you go. 

Trust your instincts as a researcher and as a storyteller. 

Think outside the box. 

Be fearless.

Don’t expect so much of yourself. 

From Your future self.

As I read back over this letter, I realize things haven’t changed all that much after all.  I still need to remember these things today.   

So maybe this is a letter to my past self, my present self, and my future self. 

Carla Killough McClafferty

Book cover of my first nonfiction book for young readers.
Published by FSG.

See the Dear Me letters of JoAnn Early Macken and Esther Hershenhorn. 


Carmela Martino said...

Your words are perfect for me, too, Carla. Thanks for sharing!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

"Trust your instincts" helps at so many stages. Thanks for reminding me!

Damon Dean said...

"Writers do not write by clues alone..."
Confidence, curiosity, and courage help us discover the clues that lead us to success.
Thanks for your inspiration and encouragement, Carla.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Wonderful, Carla--truly good advice is good advice across the ages.