Cool, calm and collected, New York Times bestselling author Lindsay Cummings spoke to a room full of eager students about the difficult process of writing and her own crazy journey to become an author.
Born and raised in Texas, Cummings grew up and went to high school in the Metroplex. She had originally planned to go to college and eventually become a musician, but life threw a wrench in her plans. After going through 6-7 surgeries in 2010, she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue. Having very little energy and strength, Cummings took up reading and writing as a way to cope.
It was at that time, she says, “that books changed my life. When you’re an author, you have to love reading books in order to write books.” Some of her favorites include “Harry Potter,” “The Hunger Games,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Hatchet,” “Twilight” and “The Catcher in the Rye.”
When she was 19, she wrote her first novel, “The Murder Complex.” The journey to get the novel published was a difficult one as she received over a 100 rejection letters. She became dejected and depressed that her work wasn’t good enough. However, with the support of family and friends, Cummings kept trying until she found an agent who was willing to publish her work. The novel then had to be edited before it could be put onto bookstore shelves, a process that Cummings says she “would rather die than do. There’s a misconception that when an author gets a book deal, it immediately gets sent to the printer. It’ll be the same shell, but not the same story.” Even though it was long and grueling, she stated that the process helped her learn and grow immensely.
Cummings stated that writing is a very personal thing: “I see myself in every story I write as well as the characters that I write.” When she first started, she wanted to please people. As time went on however, she came to realize that writers have to “learn how not to care. There are always going to be people who are judging your work. As long as you’re proud of it, that’s all that matters.”
Cummings’ focus is children’s literature and young adult novels. She loves them both equally and enjoys the challenges that come with writing them. “Young adult literature is about conquering fears. Children’s literature is about finding yourself” she said. When asked if she would ever consider writing other genres, Cummings said that she probably won’t as she already loves what she does.
Cummings had plenty of advice for aspiring writers: “You need to be continually being inspired. Writer’s block comes from a lack of creativity and inspiration. If you work through it, you can overcome it.”