This has been an amazing week as The Lake House made its way to stores. It would not be the book it is today without Rebecca Serle. As an intern at Foundry Literary & Media, Rebecca was one of the first readers of my novel. I remember thinking that she was going to be an extraordinary editor someday, but it turns out she was meant for something else. Rebecca's now a full time writer and her first novel, When You Were Mine, is not only a phenomenal YA book it's being made into a movie.She shares her story of going after her dream before she believed she was ready. So inspiring!
In Rebecca Serle's Own Words
I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I never thought about publishing novels. I understood that people wrote the books I read and loved. I was moderately convinced this process was accomplished by human beings. But I also knew two things for sure: 1) these “people” were far more talented than I was and 2) they were much, much older.
I moved to New York straight out of college to get my masters in creative writing. I figured I would use the time to get better at short stories (maybe) and figure out how I was going to stay in New York post the degree (definitely). I tried many routes. I interviewed at every magazine in town, was turned away from what I thought was a sure-thing tutoring position, and groveled no less than twenty times to score an internship at a publishing house. Over the two years of my grad program I interned in publishing on both the editorial and agency sides. I got to see how the business worked. I got to meet people. I realized that, yes, real folks did publish novels. It didn’t do much to quell my anxiety, though. The other part was still true: they were far more talented than I was.
When I graduated from my MFA I applied for an editorial assistant job at Simon and Schuster. I figured it was the perfect position for me. I was going to begin my entrée into the corporate world in a real way, now. It wasn’t just going to be about the coffee anymore. But something was nagging at me—I didn’t really want the job. What I wanted was to write. But I wasn’t ready, yet. I didn’t know enough. I was too young. I wasn’t good enough.
Suffice it to say I didn’t get the S&S gig—and it was a low moment for me. I was emerging as a twenty-three year old “trained” writer but I had no idea what to do with my degree.
My mentor in college told me something just before I graduated that I’ll never forget. I was filling her in on my plans for my masters when she turned to me and said: “You know, there’s another option.” I had no idea what she meant, so I asked. “You could just do it,” she said. “Do what?” I asked. She looked at me and I’ll never forget the expression on her face. It was amused, casual, but full of the knowing that comes only from action. “Write,” she said.
Eighteen months after I got turned down for that job at Simon and Schuster I sold my first novel to them. My second book with their wonderful team comes out next spring. They were right, as it turned out. I wouldn’t have made a very good editorial assistant. But I think I make a pretty good author.
You can just do it. You can learn on the job. You don’t need to wait for a future moment when you’re older and wiser and your skills are perfected because the truth is, that moment will never come. A lot of people like to say it’s not too late to realize your dreams but I like to say…it’s not too early, either.
Come visit me over @RebeccaASerle