Wednesday, August 20, 2014

9 WOW Wednesday: Tahereh Mafi on Making Mistakes

Today's WOW post is from the archives, an article from the lovely Tahereh Mafi, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Shatter Me series. It was written before her smash success -- and in case the best-selling status didn't give you a hint of the magnitude of that success so far, it includes foreign rights have sold in 25+ territories, film rights optioned by 20th Century Fox, and a marriage to Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

This post was written before Shatter Me, and for all of you -- us -- who are still struggling, who still doubt, who face the blank page and wonder whether a current piece of work is worth it, read on. (Hint: Yes, it is! : ) Believe in yourselves!)

on making mistakes

by Tahereh Mafi

Tahereh Mafi
the path to publication is paved by perseverance. it’s full of mistakes and inadequacies; it’s bursting with emotion and fleeting moments of hope and despair. it’s the manifestation of your blood, sweat and tears on paper. getting published is about taking an infinite number of chances. it’s about taking a deep breath and swallowing the burn of a million tears that have somehow fallen down your throat. it’s about waking up every morning to an inbox full of rejection and having your heart explode in your hands multiple times a day. it’s about being vulnerable.

you finally allow someone to take a look at your stories only to have them rip it apart.
you finally land an agent only to discover the hard work has just begun.
you finally manage to sell a book only to realize you feel even tinier than you did before.

but then.

when you get a small yes of possibility from someone willing to take a chance on you.
when you get positive feedback from a beta reader, an agent, a highly-regarded friend.
when you hear from readers, fellow writers, strangers you never knew existed.

somehow all the pain is worth it.

my journey toward publication has barely started and i’ve already done everything wrong. i wrote my manuscripts wrong. i edited wrong. i queried wrong. i waited wrong. i made every possible mistake but i was committed to never giving up. i discovered that mistakes are okay when you learn from them, and bad manuscripts are just fine if you learn to laugh at them later. i knew that if the first book didn’t work i would write a second one. and if the second one didn’t work i would write a third. nothing was a waste of time. not the fourth book, not the fifth or the sixth. not the time i addressed a male agent by a woman’s name, not the times i thought “editing” meant “looking for typos”, and certainly not the hours i spent hunched over my computer with imaginary friends and places painting my world into something i never knew i could see.

i discovered:
  • my first novel taught me how to write.
  • my second novel taught me how to edit.
  • my third novel taught me how to write elegantly.
  • my fourth novel taught me how to write commercially.
  • my fifth novel taught me how to combine all four.
  • my sixth novel taught me how to write a book.
it’s easy to lose hope. it’s easy to look around and compare, to feel deficient. but the truth is that we’re no different, you and i. i might have an agent and i obviously don't like proper capitalization but that doesn't make me special. it doesn't make me cool. it doesn't make me a better person. it doesn't erase the fact that i had to battle the query-wars every single day for too long. it doesn't erase the countless rejections i've received and will continue to receive for the rest of my life.

we're all human-beings aspiring to live up to our potential, aspiring to live up to our goals for the future. and i hope that when you look at your manuscript you will not doubt yourself. because you can never wonder if it's worth it, this novel you are writing. you can never wonder if you are wasting your time. because every single moment is a moment you are learning, growing, maturing, and cultivating your mind. this, what you are doing? is not a waste.

because you know what it means to persevere.
because you are made of momentum.
because you will be unbelievable.

never give up.

i'm cheering for you.

Find Tahereh:

Website | Twitter

Ready for a giveaway? How about a full set of the Shatter Me trilogy signed by Tahereh?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Excellent thoughts. I love the encouragement. It really is a game of persistence, eh?

  2. Wow, she is just incredible. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  3. Is that the right rafflecopter widget? It says the giveaway is for an ARC of Compulsion.

    1. Scroll through the images. The Shatter Me series is at the end. : ) (Grand finale . . . )

  4. This is such a great post. Thanks for putting it here. I needed it.

  5. Man, I remember those days...the days of her "before." What a great reminder!

    1. Right? It seems like forever ago, but what a huge change there has been for her in four years!

  6. Thanks so much Tahereh - I got a huge rush of inspiration reading this post. It was lovely to meet you and Ransom at the "Welcome to Night Vale - Thrilling Adventure Hour" show at Comic Con. You were also terrific on the YA panel that Sunday!


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