Saturday, July 21, 2012

What if our publishing dreams don't come true?

http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/700224

How would you answer the following question?

If I never sign with an agent, or sell this book, or the next book, or reach bestseller status, I'll:


a. Jump off a bridge
b. Park my car in front of a speeding train
c. Bitterly mope through life
d. Be just fine


Hopefully no one who reads this post gets any bitter, suicidal thoughts! I'll share a secret with you: I really, really want to get published. Most writers do. We read, we learn, we write, we take a deep breath and put our work out there, and we persevere. But this I know for sure: If I never win the literary lotto, I'll still have peace in my heart.

Why?

Here's the deal: Last week, while on a cruise with my family, I sat by the pool, reading a captivating book. I had one of those light-shot-through-the-sky-and-angels-singing moments. No one saw or heard it but me, but it happened. I swear.

I'm at peace with my writing journey, no matter where it leads, because I'm counting my blessings. My family is healthy. My husband has a good job. We have a home. We have two cars that are old, but still fire up when we turn the keys. I have the ability to read great stories, and I have the skills to write my own.

While waiting in a buffet line, my husband had a conversation with a woman who was cruising with her daughter. Her 18-year-old daughter was born with Down Syndrome, and now has stage four cancer. They're at a point in their lives where they are living in the moment, and enjoying each day together.

Talk about perspective.

Wherever our writing journeys take us, hopefully we're at peace with it. We're reading amazing stories. We're writing. We're discussing books and writing with each other. Hopefully we can count our blessings along the way.

Because heck...if all our dreams don't come true, then death by train or bridge, or bitterly moping through life, would sure be a waste.

What's your take on this? If all your literary dreams don't come true, how would you feel? Does putting it all in perspective help? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

63 comments:

  1. I agree with you one hundred percent. One of the blogs I follow belongs to a successful writer/agent, and is followed by a long list of other agents and writers, some published, some not. The general angst of discontent and depression expressed in the majority of comments there completely baffles me. Am I too "happy", too "contented" to make it in this business? Do I not want it badly enough? Maybe. Being published in a magazine was awesome, and I happily spent the money on a new laptop, and I'm sure having my novel published would be an even higher high. But ya know what? I'm already high on life. None of us can count on being here tomorrow, so I'm happy to enjoy today. Yeah, I know I'm a pathological optimist, but I'm also a realist. If my book never gets published, sobeit. Today will still be a wonderful day.

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    1. "Am I too "happy", too "contented" to make it in this business?" I love that! I've often wondered the same thing. Thankfully I've read great stories by authors who weren't angry and depressed, and that gives me hope.

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  2. I would've been fine. It's wasn't the be-all, end-all of my life. No thing should ever be that important anyway. I'm happy it did happen (and stunned) but if not, I would've survived. The greatest loss would've been the friends I've made online and the things I've learned through all of you.

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    1. Alex, it cracks me up that you're "stunned" your book was published. You're so darn humble, and that's an amazing quality.

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  3. Thank you so much for this, Julie. And I agree with Susan also. I count my blessings every day, even the small publishing successes. I even count the fact that I've gotten full requests and R&R's as a blessing. So even if that elusive publishing deal never lands in my lap, I know I am still a writer. And that, too (being a writer), I count as a blessing.

    Btw, I have a similar post scheduled for next week. :)

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    1. Excellent point, Linda. Each of our milestones are blessings! And yes, no matter what, we are writers.

      A similar post next week? Sheesh, our minds think alike, huh? I look forward to reading it.

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  4. I'll admit it, I'll be pretty darn annoyed, because I don't have the life I want. Now, maybe if I had a job I truly loved I wouldn't feel this way but unfortunately I don't and finding another one in this economy that would offer the same benefits not to mention fully paid health insurance AND four weeks of vaca would be near impossible. That said, I won't be quitting 'til I draw my last breath. because published or not, I am a writer.

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    1. It's tough in this economy, no doubt. I know plenty of people who have lost their jobs and had to move out of state to chase a new job. Darn right, you ARE a writer!

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  5. Loved this post, Julie!

    It's amazing how we get caught up in the little stuff and forget to enjoy each day. Sometimes we need that jolt - like that lady and daughter you met on the cruise - to remind us to be at peace, not only in our writing journey, but in all aspects of our life.

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  6. Loree, that is EXACTLY how I felt. It's so easy to get bogged down in the small stuff. I do it all the time. But yes, a jolt like that was just what the doctor ordered.

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  7. Such a wonderful post. I'm going to share it on Facebook.

    I will mope through life in some way, as long as I'm not published. I do appreciate what I have, which is similar to your list. But professionally, I want more. Even if my dreams don't come try, I'm lucky. Glad you are too.

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    1. Thanks, Theresa. It's awesome that you want more, and that you have the guts to get out there and pursue it.

      You're a teacher, in the trenches, influencing the lives of many kids. You're already making a huge difference in this world!

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  8. On one hand, I hate to fail at something I've worked so hard at. On the other, I do have a lot of blessings in my life, including my family and a job I (most of the time) love. Wishing us all luck!
    erica

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    1. You will most definitely NOT fail! Each of our little milestones are huge successes.

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  9. The beauty of this ever-changing publishing world is that new options are always opening up. We never fail until we give up.

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    1. Heather, you are soooo right! We have more control now than ever. How refreshing!

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  10. This is a question I've asked myself a lot lately. Especially as this summer did not go as planned and it left me with little to no writing time. But that's life. All the plans in the world mean nothing when certain things come up that are more important than a publishing deal. Yes, I want to be published, badly, yet I know realistically it may not happen. I have to be okay with that because not being okay with it means I'm not seeing all the blessings in my life. I also think it's okay to let it hurt. To allow ourselves to feel the disappointment, because we have to acknowledge all the hard work we've done. I just don't plan to let that hurt rule or ruin my life. Published or not, I've got it good and I know it. As always, a thoughtful post, Julie!

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    1. Beautifully said, Michele. I agree 100%

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  11. THIS. All of this. Thank you for sharing it.

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  12. definitely "d" -- and I love what Michele Shaw said. That is perfect.

    I've shared this post with our Children's Book Hub Facebook Group. It fits in perfectly with a discussion that's been going on over there. (Come join us! https://www.facebook.com/groups/childrensbookhub/

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    1. Beth, that's so sweet of you! I'll definitely check out your Facebook group.

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  13. Julie, It's such a huge milestone for a writer to get to this point you so accurately describe in this post. To keep up we must constantly be striving to improve, to grow, to advance and make our dreams come true, to such an extent that at times it becomes a struggle just to enjoy the moment! And appreciate how far we've come to this point!

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    1. Karen, sometimes I let myself become frazzled about all that I "should" be doing, but then I get one of those jolts, and I'm reminded to be in the moment and just enjoy.

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  14. I think about this a lot and I have a different take on it, actually. I am fortunate to have gotten my first book published, but I still have lofty dreams for my writing. And it was really difficult to get that first one out. If hadn't gotten published, I would not have been content. I am just being honest. I am happy in my life and never bitter or depressed or discouraged when things don't work out the way I planned, but that doesn't stop me. If something's not working, I just readjust the route I'm taking. It took Thomas Edison 1000 tries to invent a working lightbulb. What would have happened if he'd given up at 999? He said "I have not failed 1000 times. I have not failed once. I have proved that those 1000 ways don't work." If it takes a life time, I will still work towards my dream and always believe it is within reach.

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    1. Laurisa, I totally understand what you're saying. And believe me, I will NOT give up, and I will NOT stop learning and growing.

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  15. My take on this is that you are so right, Julie. Not all dreams are meant to come true. All we can do is keep trying.
    Karen

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    1. And Karen, there's so much value in the trying, right? And appreciating our little successes along the way. Thanks so much for your input :)

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  16. Hmm, I had one of those moments recently too. We have to keep perspective. :D But it sure fees good trying!

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    1. Yep, it definitely feels good trying, and we definitely won't give up!

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  17. Amen to this! What a great post~ perspective is key in this journey :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Jess! Yep, perspective is a blessing itself :)

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  18. Interesting topic, Julie! I told someone at work that I was going to CO for a writing class, and the first thing they said was, "Is there any guarantee you'll get published shortly after? Or do you get college credit for these online classes you're taking? That's a long way to go for writing." <-- I live in NC.
    My answer: "It doesn't matter how far I go, or where I receive the education from. I just want to follow my heart and be good at this. Whether I get published or not, I'm at peace knowing I have an outlet for my creativity, and that I'm doing one of the things that brings me the most joy in life. And I'm just happy knowing I'll get to spend five days with 5 other writers who are possibly in the same place as me, and who enjoy their craft as much as I do. And I get to meet my editing partner in person."

    So I agree with you. We should have perspective in those moments of oh-my-God-will-it-ever-happen. If you're doing this for the right reasons, then peace is yours, even in those moments of rejection and self-doubt.

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    1. OMG, what an awesome response!!!! I absolutely love that. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  19. It's great that you have this perspective Julie. So glad that you enjoyed your vacation. I would love to get published as well -- but my life is so full of gratitude with all the things I have -- I'm very grateful. A published book would just be icing.

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    1. "A published book would just be icing." Exactly! I feel the same way. Thanks, Karen.

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  20. My answer actually wasn't on the list; I'd publish the book myself (and I already have). With traditional publishing, writers have to wait for others to make their dreams come true. These days, writers can take steps on their own to pursue their dreams. Even if I never reach my ultimate goal of making my living from writing, I'm still more content knowing I gave my dream my best shot.

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    1. Ooh, Sandra, what an excellent point! Thanks so much. We can make our own dreams come true :)

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  21. Good post! I just wanted to echo Sandra's comment above me (and hopefully not in a "publishing wars" kind of way...I am an advocate for author success in all ways, be those ways traditional or independent or something else entirely). But seriously. If your dreams about a certain agent or a certain publication path don't pan out...don't give up!!! Fight for your dreams. Go after them and make them happen! Mind you, I have a lot of fight in me, and I don't take well to waiting around to get lucky. That's probably why after a couple years in the querying trenches (I could never seem to write a book that was the hot genre of the moment, although agents liked my style), I took to independent authorhood like a fish to water. Now, I respect and love traditional publication, as it's given me most of my favorite books over the years and it has many merits. But there are so many other pathways! Self publishing/epublishing (which for many has been awesome and successful, yay), small presses (they usually don't require agented submissions), short story anthologies, magazines (also no agent requirement, these are a great way to built publication credits)! You may not be able to make a living from those kinds of writing (although many people I know do), but it's still incredibly rewarding.

    But really, what you've said is so true, because once you get published, then there are a million new ways to compare or become discontent--advance size, number of copies sold, money earned, etc etc. We never "arrive." So let's enjoy the journey.

    Good thoughts, thanks for sharing.

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    1. Katie, that's an excellent point. These days, we have so many options, and it's wonderful.

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  22. This is so true, Julie. I think our publishing "dreams" are a lot alike. :D I'm at the Washington Coast with my extended family this week and there's something about being out of the house in a beautiful place that helps me see beyond my little dreams. Of course I'm still going for them, and I'm going to do the best I can, but they're not everything to me. Not even close. Hearing that story about the woman with a daughter who is in stage 4 cancer really does put things in perspective. We have so much to be thankful for!

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    1. Amy, I really think this "idea" came to me because I was out of the house, unplugged. Once we're out of our heads for a little bit, things become clearer. I hope you and your lovely family enjoy your vacation!

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  23. I'm very much at peace because I do this for me first and foremost.

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  24. Such a great post... While I strive to gain an agent etc, I'm quite happy and enjoying the process, enjoying the fun of writing what I want:)

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    1. Exactly! We'll keep striving for what we want, and enjoy ourselves along the way :)

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  26. Try again... I'm one of those people who - even at 75 - never give up on a dream. :0)

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    1. That's right, Carole! It's never to late!

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  27. If I never get published, I'll be okay. I want more than anything to be able to share my stories with others, but if it doesn't happen, I'll know I tried my best. I won't give up in the days ahead, I'll just keep going on and on.

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    1. Totally! And like others mentioned in the comments, we have so many choices available to us now.

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  28. If being a published author is not in my future, I like to think that I'll be okay with that.

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    1. Me too. And at least we're doing what we love to do :)

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  29. When I was a kid I wanted to be either a professional baseball player or an astronaut. My love of the stars or the thrill of getting a base hit in softball hasn't diminished just because I've never stepped into a space ship or played pro ball. I will write forever because I love telling stories.

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    1. Beautifully said, Leslie. And you're a darn good storyteller. Your name WILL appear on a cover.

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  30. Yes, you are right! It would be a waste to noe enjoy each and every day, regardless of what our aspirations are.

    But, I'll never give up trying. I'm enjoying the journey, no matter where it takes me.

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  31. Thanks for sharing, Julie. That was a very inspiring and encouraging post. I hope it finds everyone who needs to see it. For me, having that first one published - albeit with a small publisher - really takes that edge off. I will continue to write and (now) self-publish, but I will be content no matter what happens from here on out.

    -Jimmy

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  32. I've experienced great tragedy in my life so I understand what's important & what's not. While a dream is nice & helps us move forward, it means nothing if we don't have good health & the love of another human being. So if we never get published, we're no worse off than we were before.

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  33. Putting things in perspective always helps. Thank you for reminding us, Julie! :)

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    1. I totally agree. If I don't get book 2 out when I wanted to - that's okay. Life is okay. Most of us just need perspective and when God graciously gives us that we can only be thankful.

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  34. Great article. We must stay thankful for what we have. I know I compare my writing to others; I look at my sales and then theirs and feel really small. But it's not about that. I enjoy writing, so I keep doing it. That's more important.

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