It's so lovely to have Katie Dale back on the blog, with this letter to her younger self. Katie has just had her first Middle Grade novel, Mumnesia published by Macmillan Children's Books.
Dear younger self,
Hello from the future, twelve-year-old me! Wow, this is weird as I’ve just written a book about a woman who gets amnesia and thinks she’s travelled back in time to give her twelve-year-old self life advice, and now it’s kind of like I’m doing the same thing! Oh yeah – spoiler: you write books now! And some of them are published! Mind blown yet?
So. Twelve. A lot’s about to change, huh? Your little sister Caroline lives in fear of you becoming a “terrible teenager” (I think she thinks it’s going to be like that Kevin and Perry skit and you’re going to transform into a monster overnight!).
You won’t, but it is a big step. For one thing, you’re about to leave all the school friends you grew up with to go to an all-girls school – an ALL-GIRLS SCHOOL! Where you have to wear red berets on school trips and skirts 2 inches below the knee – yuck! I agree, it’s not a good look, but don’t worry, coz the school itself is actually really fun! And believe me, boys are a distraction you really don’t need right now – trust me, they’ll be distracting enough later when you end up going to a mostly-boys sixth form!
You’ll make some really good girl friends at your new school, but take my advice: don’t chase the popular crowd, or fall into a clique, as attractive and secure as that sounds – you can never have too many friends, and you don’t know what you’re missing if you limit your friendship group. And be warned, girl friendships can be very tricky. Teenage girls can be mean, thoughtless, deceitful, spiteful even, but often that’s a result of their own issues and insecurities which you may not be aware of, so don’t let them get you down or make you bitter. Stay calm, be kind, and you’ll make good friends who’ll help you through, make you giggle, and make you feel good about yourself. Cut ties with those who don’t. It may sound harsh, and it won’t be easy – I know you absolutely hate confrontation of any kind – but you’ll be much happier for it.
Back to the fun stuff. Keep acting! You love it, and I know you’ve been overlooked for big roles in school plays so far but you’re about to get your big break in the high school musical! Keep at it and one day your dream of going to drama school will come true! You’ll even tour the country as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet! I know, mind-blowing, right?
But rejection – and learning to deal with it – is equally important. Unfortunately, your twin loves of writing and acting come with rejection as pretty much an occupational hazard, and I’m sorry, but you’re gonna face a LOT of it, so start growing a thick skin now! Don’t take it personally (though I know it’s hard not to sometimes!) and trust me when I tell you that every rejection is an opportunity to explore a new path.
You won’t get into Warwick University to do the degree in Creative Writing you’d set your heart on, but that’s okay because going to Sheffield University instead (pointer – look up WHERE Sheffield is BEFORE you go, then you won’t be so horrified and gob-smacked at just how far away it is from Sussex when you get in – geography never was your strong point!) has LOADS of perks (though I am sorry about all the horrendously steep hills – seriously, PAY MORE ATTENTION IN GEOGRAPHY!).
For example, you know how you ALWAYS wanted to live in America (thanks to all those Sweet Valley High and Caroline B Cooney books you’re devouring right now)? Well, because you go to Sheffield, you’ll get to spend a WHOLE YEAR studying in North Carolina, where you’ll get the chance to do a whole load of writing courses including a class by the amazing Sarah Dessen (trust me, she’s gonna be BIG in YA fiction) and join SCBWI (that’s Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators) which will help launch your writing career. Oh, and at Sheffield Uni you’ll also meet the guy you’re still in love with, fifteen years later (hint: keep an eye out for Tigger slippers…).
So there you go – don’t feel dejected by rejection. It can be, and often is, a GOOD thing! In fact, it’s absolutely vital. It helps broaden your horizons and discover what it is you really care about, it inspires you to work harder to improve, and drives you to pursue your passions with more determination than ever.
Oh, and if your mind STILL isn’t totally blown yet, here’s the most surprising thing of all. You know that story you wrote in English last year, in Year Six? When you were set homework to write a new version of a Fairy Tale? Don’t lose it!
That got you your first book deal ☺
Thanks Katie for a super post.
Lucy's mum is so out of date she's practically mouldy. She's super-strict, overprotective and won't let Lucy go to the Valentine's Ball! Lucy can't believe she was EVER a teenager . . .
Until the morning her mum wakes up with no memory of the last thirty years - and thinks she's twelve years old!
All Lucy wants is for her mum to go back to being her old self - but how?
To find out more about Katie Dale:
Don’t forget to enter the MUMNESIA GOODY-BAG PRIZE DRAW!
To enter (UK only) simply answer the question:
WHAT DO THE LETTERS SCBWI STAND FOR?
Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
(p.s. there’s a special bonus draw and prize for those who answer all eight questions correctly – so why not join me next time on the blogtour?)
Make sure you check out all the posts on the Mumnesia Blog Tour.