Monday, May 02, 2011

Dreaming Big

What's your dream?

Come on, tell me.  I won't laugh.

I'll bet it's something people have laughed at, at one point.  It's a goal that most people think would be risky, unachievable, or just too distant to even reach for.  I know.  I've been there.  Heck, I am there.

From since I was a child of twelve or thereabouts, I've wanted to be a writer.  A professional writer.  A no-other-source-of-income writer.

Okay, stop laughing now.

In a way, I've spent my whole life trying to achieve this goal, in fits and starts.  When I was a teenager, I churned out a bunch of unreadable manuscripts.  They were never even submitted anywhere.  Same with when I was in my twenties.  I wrote and wrote and wrote.  I edited myself very little.  I even wrote in front of the television (how about that for quality?).  But, again, I didn't submit any of my work for publication.  I was content to simply become my own audience.  Instead of reaching for a favourite Johanna Lindsey or Karen Ranney novel, I occasionally re-read some of my own work.  Just as good, right?  WRONG.

These talented ladies were published.  The proof was in my hands.  I was just scribbling aimlessly on my computer, without reason or purpose, but still with that big dream in my head: become a writer.

In 2006, I finally clued in.  I started writing manuscripts that I meant to sell somewhere.  I had a specific publisher in mind and I read all of their novels and targeted my works for them.  Or, as it turned out, for their slush pile.  I was rejected again and again, on at least a half dozen completed manuscripts.

I thought my dream was dead.

I was doing everything right.  I had a plan this time.  I had a rigid schedule of writing, polishing, and submitting my manuscripts every few months.  How could I fail?

It turned out that I was failing to hone my craft.  While concentrating now on the practical side of my writing, which was a good decision, I was still falling short of the standard of writing I needed to break into the professional realm.  Indeed, I still am.  But I keep trying.  And trying, and trying.  I read all of the articles I can get my hands on about writing, making the most of my Writer's Digest subscription.  I think (and blog) about writing regularly.  I keep it on the forefront of my mind, even in the face of many other distractions.

Trust me, I've heard every negative comment you can muster.  "Writers don't make much money".  "Successful writers are mainly lucky".  "You have to know someone to get published".  For a long time, I let those comments determine how I wrote.  I wrote for myself because I was building up my "other" career (or so I kept telling myself).  In fact, I was letting my career narrow my dreams of writing.  I had a job.  Where was the urgency?

Some days, I still feel like that.

Where is the urgency?

Well, let me ask you this: aren't the biggest dreams the most urgent?

Stop thinking about all of the tasks you have to do every day and start dreaming about what you want to do.  If you want to become a professional writer, as I do, what are you doing to reach your goals?

Are you taking writing courses?  Are you reaching out to other writers, in cyberspace or in person at clubs and conferences?  Are you writing every day?

I do all of these things now.  It took me a long time to learn.  So far, I'm not any further than I was at twelve, writing my little poems in my diary.  But I believe that one day I will make it because I will never let go of my biggest dream.

Photo courtesy of nuttakit at

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