Victoria Schwab is the author of the Near Witch, which comes out from Hyperion next year. I have wanted it for a while. I find her to be an amazing person to talk to, because she has such a deep grasp of the world and the many amazing things in it. Anyways, I hope you enjoy her guest post about her nineteenth birthday.
It took me a few moments to think of when I was 19. Not because it was long ago (I'm only 22), but because so much has happened.
When I was 22, I sold a book.
When I was 21, I went on sub, didn't sell, and wrote a second book.
When I was 20, I wrote my first book and signed with Agent Awesome (Amy Tipton).
When I turned 19...I hadn't written anything. That's a lie. When I was 19, I'd written poetry (mostly bad, existentialist poetry) and then been nudged into screenwriting by a teacher, but I hadn't yet discovered novel-length fiction. The longest piece I'd written was 5 pages.
When I turned 19, I had no idea what I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to write, I've wanted to write since 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12...etc, but I didn't know what, or how. I was just this little ball of ambition, jumping from Physics, to Stage Design, to Japanese Culture, to Art History. I had no grounding. I felt lost. And at the time all I wanted was a path, just like the kind on airplanes, the ones that light up and tell you you're going the right way. I kept looking around, waiting for my little blinking lights. And there weren't any.
But then, shortly after my birthday, I went to a reading on campus. Kelly Link. And sometime between sitting down in the small reading room, and leaving, I knew what I wanted to do. I didn't even want to go to the reading. I was swamped with work. I almost didn't go.
Little decisions change lives. My 19th birthday, and the subsequent year, wasn't the BIGGEST year of my life if biggest means big things happening, but it was a time of many small decisions that added up. It was my chance to explore, to test and taste and grow. I think too often we feel the need to fill our lives with big decisions, when really the small ones are most often the ones that pave the way. Those paths, like on airplanes, are made up of small, spaced dots. My 19th year was, too.