Sunday, September 15, 2013

You Can't Live a Dream

Being a writer has always been my dream. Guess what? I am a writer. I write nonfiction for my day job, and I write middle-grade fiction as a passion. I've even been published.

So why doesn't it feel like a dream come true?

Because you can't live a dream. You can only live real life.

There are dream-like moments -- getting an offer from an agent, a contract, an award, a bestseller (some of those remains dreams) -- but reality is much more mundane. Big contracts come with pressure and deadlines. So do small ones. So does self-publishing, only the people cracking the whip are readers who demand more.

Agents and editors and readers often don't have the same ideas as you do. They don't always like your latest work. There are reviews, returns, and unearned royalties along the way. There are disappointing sales and dropped contracts. There are empty book signings, readings that fall flat, endless blog posts, and internet controversies. Hopefully there is plenty of writing and more books along the way too.

Writing can be a good job or bad one. Well paid, poorly paid, or unpaid. It can be a very good life, and I'm grateful for the one I have. But it's always work.

So what about the other part of my dream -- a pot of dark-brewed coffee and a thousand words, a long walk on a crisp sunny fall day, another thousand words?

That's not real life. That's a writer's retreat.


  1. Ever since I was eight years old I dreamed of becoming a writer. Real life got in the way and it wasn't until I made a goal to finish a novel and publish it did I achieve that dream. I, too am pursuing an agent and I feel like I am closer now than when I self-pubbed my first book in 2006 (written earlier). I look upon it as the next challenge. What is my next goal? A writer friend once told me if she puts out 25 books through her small publisher she will make enough in royalities to supplement her income so I made that my goal. I now have 15 books published either by small presses or self-published. I've achieved one part of my dream and that's what keeps me going. My dream is to be a full-time writer and have enough income to live off of, perhaps teach creative writing at a community college or university as my day job. I feel like I need an agent to get to the next level and so I keep writing and editing and polishing the next manuscript hoping this one will be "the one" that catches an agent's eye. I may end up being 90 years old and still querying but at least I'll be able to say I lived the life I wanted and pursued my dreams. Thanks for an inspiring post!

  2. Great post and so accurate! No matter what your dream is, you have to be willing to work to achieve it, otherwise it will always remain a dream. The first step is to set a goal and work toward it. Big things take place through little steps. You have to always keep encouraging yourself to finish those little things.


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