Letter to my 12 year-old self:
Dear Race (circa 2003),
Hola! Guess who? You! Yes that's right. It is you, talking to you.
Proof: I know that you live in the tiniest town in the world, and you know it too. The most fun you ever have is when you get to wander around the book section at K-Mart and smell all the pretty novels.
But then, I guess that's a lie. You have a lot of fun in your head. You've probably already destroyed the lawn with a path from the door to behind the garage, through the garden and back again. You love to pace endlessly on that loop and get lost in your head. Pretty sure Mom thinks you're crazy. But how could Mom know how easy it is to lose hours a day living out the lives of so many fictional people in your mind?
This is the year you'll start writing those stories down in earnest. Sure, you've been writing for the past five years. But now, instead of following prompts and writing short fiction, you're going to write one of your novel-ish length stories for your mom (Psst... give it to her for Christmas. She'll love it.). I admit nothing ever comes of that book about the poor girl, an awful lot like you, who is forced to go live with her father in that huge mansion with his cute dog and the strange girl who buries things under that huge pine tree. But you'll get a great reader, your homeschooling evaluator, who will write a few major words on the cover page: you should pursue publication.
I can't say you'll be successful in that. It's been 9 years and I (we) haven't been pubbed yet. That means we sadly aren't on any bestseller lists. But you do get representation! The awesome Natalie Fischer (eventually Natalie Lakosil) is going to love your book and you'll jump a major hurdle. Plus you have a fabulous idea rolling around your head in my time. You need to do some research on it. Remember to never forget the research.
The years between your "now" and my "now" are going to be tough for you. You are going to get sick, and then better, and then sick again, back and forth. But you'll power through. And you'll use that experience, as you'll use every experience you ever have, to make your writing better. Never give up, never dwell on anything for too long. Just use it to make your novels sing. It will pay off.
Future Race, age 21.