Three years ago, when I started my first book, I had a dream.
At night, lying in bed, I'd stare at the ceiling unable to sleep because my brain wouldn't stop humming, like a little engine going and going and going. I'd plot out my novel. I'd create new characters. I'd drum up ways to make my little book more exciting, more action-filled, more everything.
I daydreamed in those wee hours of the morning. About agent offers and publishing deals. About print runs and book tours. Even though my little book was far, far from perfect, I dreamt and I wished and I really, really hoped. In the morning, after I brushed my teeth, I'd stare at books like Percy Jackson and Gregor the Overlander and I'd tell myself:
One day. One day my book will be in stores and kids will love them and I'll meet them because I'll go on book tours and other nice author-y things. Maybe, probably, I'll be a bestseller. Maybe, probably, I'll live off of my writing. And I'll be happy, happy, happy because this dream of mine will have come true.
Ah, the naivete! I wish I coud pinch my cheeks.
There were no bumps in the road when it came to my dreaming. No hiccups. I'd get an agent, easy peasy, and a handsome book deal. Then, perhaps a year later, my novel would come out in bookstores and it would sell well. Kids would love the novel, and I'd write sequels that they would love too.
It was a lovely, lovely dream.
It still hovers in my mind actually, humming its familiar sound.
But the humming has grown fainter as of late. Its wings don't beat as fast as they used to.
And I'm okay with that.
In the past year, as I've experienced the roller coaster of submissions, I've had to let go of my dream a bit. Bestsellers list? Book tours? Yeah, those are hard to get! Hell, it's tough enough just to break into traditional publishing, much less land on the NYT Bestsellers' list. I've come to learn that becoming one of those authors---with book tours and those other author-y things---requires a bit of luck. It's not only about writing a good book, it's about selling the book to the right publisher at the right time. It's about marketing too. And being fresh in a crowded market. It takes, well, it takes a lot.
And in this past year, as I've gotten to know other writers, I've also come to see that publishing isn't always the smoothly paved road I once hoped it to be. Sometimes a book series gets canceled. Or it doesn't get picked up by Barnes & Noble. Sometimes a publishing offer doesn't go through. Or an established author can't get another deal. This road gets bumpy and it makes sharp turns and, sometimes, it breaks hearts.
It's a business, after all.
So we have to put on our business faces.
It's an odd road to walk---with our dreams on one side and the realities of business on the other. And there we are, bouncing between the two.
This is why my post is called "Giving Up the Dream." I"m not giving up on writing---nope, my brain won't let me---but I'm letting go of the part of me that thinks about book tours and bestsellers' lists and big advances. Sure, all of those things would be awesomely nice, but I can't really control any of it. All I can do is write and edit and edit some more. So I'll work on that. Maybe those nice author-y things will come my way, but maybe they won't. It's okay either way. As long as...
#1 I'm happy with my writing.
#2 I get to hold my books in my hands.
#3 Somewhere out there, I can make a kid smile 'cause of my stories.
And #4 I can buy a yacht with my book earnings.
But yeah, #3. That makes my heart squeeze.
That's why I started writing in the first place, and it's a dream I'll always have.
It's a dream I'll never give up on.