Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No More Fear

When I first started writing seriously, I allowed myself big dreams. Dreams that glowed inside me as I drifted off to sleep at night. Dreams that tingled over my skin as I brushed the spines of books in the YA section. They made my heart beat fast when I read of other people's success online. These were the thoughts that made me get into this whole business in the start. The reason I write, if you will.

Unfortunately, with time (and rejections,) those dreams started to no longer feel safe. Little by little, almost without realizing what I was doing, I built up a wall around them, closing them off inside me. I'd tell myself it was good. It meant I'd grown. I was smarter now. More realistic. In stronger moments, I'd sneer at my earlier self for being so "clueless." In weaker moments, I'd mourn the loss of those dreams.

I've thought a lot about it in the past few weeks, and I've realized a very important thing. I haven't outgrown those dreams, or become to wise to have them. I've just been afraid of them. Plain and simple. I've been afraid to even look at or acknowledge them anymore.

So today, I'm going to force myself to break through that wall. I'm not only going to accept that my dreams are still there, I'm going to share them with you. Believe me, I'm terrified. I've edited and deleted and rewritten this entire post. I've waffled over whether or not to even do it, because I'm honestly really scared to share these things. I'm afraid of looking stupid or vain or naive. I'm afraid of people reading this post a year from now and thinking, "haha, I guess her dreams didn't come true."

But I need a breakthrough, guys. I need to do this. I'm not going to run away from my dreams anymore. They are still inside me, and they deserve to be acknowledged. So here goes.

1. I dream of holding my own book in my hands. Printed books are special to me, always have been. To me, they are beautiful, powerful things, both figuratively and literally. I dream of the day when I can feel my story beneath my fingertips, smell the new pages, and gaze at the cover.

2. I want to write an epic love story, one that makes people FEEL something when they read it. Longing or sadness or joy. I want to create characters that seem alive. I want to give those characters scenes that are beautiful.

And last, the hardest one to actually write out. (Trust me, I've deleted it about ten times.)

3. I dream of readers. I dream of a fan base. People that love my books and think about my books, and can't wait for the next one. To know that someone out there who doesn't know me personally is moved by my stories would be the most amazing feeling in the world.

What are your dreams? What is the reason you keep going? If you are like me, if you feel afraid of those dreams that once burned inside you, please, PLEASE share them now. I'd love to hear them.


Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

I am sometimes afraid of the bad press I will get, even tho I know its inevitable and honestly what grows you, but it still scares me.

BUT, you keep going becuase what if Im 103 and all I can say is I never even tried?

Hayley said...

GREAT post! I feel like many writers fall into this same mindset--after learning the "realities" of the publishing world, we feel like we're being foolish or naive to keep going after the "big" dreams. I think the key is to differentiate between dreams and expectations...we shouldn't EXPECT to become huge bestsellers with millions of dollars and worldwide fanbases, but if we can't dream, what's the point? Dreams are what keep us going when the writing gets tough :)

Ruth Josse said...

I think most writers have some version of your dreams. I know mine come pretty close. Sometimes they seem so big that they seem impossible. But in my heart I know they aren't. Thanks for sharing!

Miriam Forster said...

I dream of readers too, and of speaking at writer conferences and doing booksignings.

My scariest dream by far though is this one: *whispers* I want to win the Newbery someday.

Don't know if I'll ever even write a book that's eligible. But that is what I dream of when I dream scary dreams. :)

KLM said...

Good for you! No need to worry. Every writer who reads this post will relate to it and say, "Hell, yeah!"

My dreams... hmmmm. Now what did I do with those? They're around here somewhere. I could have sworn I put them next to the dog's crate. I hope someone didn't accidentally throw them out!

Jessie Oliveros said...

I dream of having more time to write, although that is something I can partly control right now...more than I'm willing to admit. (Guess I just admitted it.) I dream of having a real-life completed book that I'm proud of and ready to send out. AND I dream of print, NYT, positive reviews, fanbase, and that blockbuster that I'm going to inspire. That's all.

Ryan Schneider said...

Of course we all dream such things. That's a big part of why we do what we do.

But hopefully it's not the only reason.

Hopefully the primary reason is because we love to write.

Remember that thing, that hypothetical gut-check thing where someone says to you, "If you could see into the future and learn that you never made any money from your writing, would you still write?"

Hopefully you answered, "Of COURSE I would still write. Don't be stupid."

But, sadly, I think some people like the idea of having written.

But they lack the butt glue (thank you Dale Brown for that term).

Which means, glue your butt to the chair and write. Because if you don't enjoy the writing process . . . I dunno, man, good luck, I guess. I want a big fan base and movie adaptations, too, (of course I do!), but I also LOVE to lose myself in the world of my characters. THAT is ultimately why I write: escapism. (Coining a pithy phrase whispered by an angel kicks ass, too.) Plus, it's simply what I do, like Gordy in STAND BY ME, I guess. Can't do anything else. Don't much want to, either. I've tried.

Like so many others have said, I'm also afraid of never measuring up, of discovering that my writing sucks, my books suck, that ain't nobody gonna buy them, and up til now everyone has been humoring me because they didn't have the heart to tell me I'm a no-talent spaz who needs to get a real friggin job.

Well, sorry. This is what I do. Come hell or high water. I've decided. When I think of the NYT bestseller list, it sounds like a barometer for my worthiness as a "Writer" (even though it is not). But it also conjures up lots of pain and fear and dark things that want to destroy me.

But when I think about self publishing (which is what I'm doing), I feel light and optimistic and in control.

And if I crash and burn or my books suck, fine; at least they're mine.

Red Boot Pearl said...

I totally want to see my book in my hands as well...(although, one of my fears is that I will hate the cover of my book. I judge book covers pretty harsh.)

I guess right now my biggest dream is to get a manuscript in such great shape that I can't pick endless holes in it...(is that really possible?)Or at least to say I'm happy with it even if it's not perfect.

Renee Collins said...

Read-Oh yes, that scares me too. I could write a whole other post on my fears. :) But yeah, at least we're trying.

Hayley-You're exactly right. It's a good thing to let our expectations become more realistic over time. But our dreams don't need to be taken down. Great point!

Ruth Josse-So true. I just have to remind myself that it happens for people all the time, it could happen to me. :)

Miriam-Awesome! You can do it one day. I know you can. :) And you'll have readers soon!

Kristen-lol, you crack me up. Get those dreams out! Dust them off! Embrace them! :)

Jessie-*high fives* You are going to have a book ready before you know it. And then will come the movie deals and NYT list. :)

Ryan-Such a good point! The primary reason we keep going should be our love of writing. Amen to that. :)

Red Boot-I have that fear too! Some covers are breathtaking. Some are just okay. It is scary to think about, heh. :) And to answer your question, YES! It's possible. :)

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I LOVE books too. My dream is also to hold my book in my hands, staring at the beautiful cover. Smelling the new printed pages. Seeing my name on the front and spine. Do you ever just stare at your books on your bookshelf? I do... ;) Oh, how I dream of that day to add my own book to my little library. I keep telling myself that it can come true. I'll never give up on my dream.
Beautiful post, Renee. :)

Jessie Humphries said...

This post reminds me of Elana Johnson's blog today about being brave. Wow are you brave girl! And I hope you get each one of your written, erased, revised and polished dreams!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Renee, I applaud you for writing this post, and I think it's wonderful that you are facing what you truly, truly want. I also think your dreams are realistic and beautiful. I think the main problem for me comes in having unrealistic dreams that set me up for failure. It's fine to have them, of course! Just...I need to keep them a little distanced from the more attainable dreams.

One of my dreams now that I'm published is to sell well enough to get my third book, Bonded, printed in hardback. :)

Renee Collins said...

Chantele-I stare at my bookshelf too! I seriously love the look them all lined up in a row. :)

Jessie-Thank you! I'll go check out Elana's post now.

Michelle-Thanks. :) It's funny the posts that are hard to write, isn't it? Anyway, I totally agree with your comment. As long as dreams are realistic, there's no reason not to hold onto them. :)

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Ari said...

Oh man, I completely understand Dream #3. While seeing your book in bookstores would be pretty trippy and while earning money from them would be awesome, I think the absolute best part of being published would be getting to share the people and stories in your head with other people. When a reader initiates a conversation with me about a book I wrote, that'll be the point when I truly feel like a published author.

Wow. There, I said it. Thank you for being brave and leading the way.

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