When I dreamed of writing books as a child, I thought I’d spend my time … writing. Perhaps I’d browse through bookstores and libraries.
It never occurred to me that my particular version of this dream would entail so many other activities and skills, including:
- Learning the ins and outs of publishing and book meta data
- Maintaining a website
- Mastering email management software
And so much more.
In the midst of my latest book launch, with my nose buried in a spreadsheet of tasks to accomplish, I’d laugh and remind myself: “I’m living the dream!”
“Living the dream.”
Even when we use the phrase sarcastically, it contains a nugget of truth.
Sometimes the mismatch between our dreams and reality can seem overwhelming. Someone who is moving to a new area packs and schlepps a lot of boxes, living in confusion and disorder. The aspiring actor in New York City or Hollywood may wait tables or drive for Uber while auditioning and hoping and training.
These are times we’re likely to seize on the phrase “living the dream” sarcastically. Even then, it contains a kernel of truth that can sustain us. It reminds us why we’re doing the hard parts.
Even the most glorious dreams come with trade-offs.
How about you? Is writing your dream?
The writing dream
Your version of a writing dream may not include the myriad publishing tasks that indie writers like me wrestle with. Perhaps you’ll have a major publisher and hire other people to manage your web and email lists. Perhaps your writing dream involves essays or poems in periodicals, or readings at local bookstores.
But in pursuing it seriously, you’ll encounter other messy realities, including:
- Days you don’t feel like writing or other projects that demand your time
- False starts and abandoned drafts
- Edits and revisions
These are essential parts of the job — part and parcel of the writing dream. You can get help and support, of course. But accept them with gratitude.
And when things get hard, think back on that original dream—your reason for writing. Focus in on it with greater clarity. Do you dream of living a specific kind of life? Or is your dream to make a difference beyond yourself?
Find the reminders
Amid the flurry of book launch, I had a moment of reset when I read a review that included this bit,
I did the exercises and tested out the ideas in my projects. That made a lasting difference in my writing.
A lasting difference. Ah. That’s the reason I do this.
I’m living the dream after all!
What are you dreaming about?
Does your writing dream recede into the distant future? Is it lingering just around the corner, once you clear the decks?
(Spoiler alert: the decks are never clear.)
Maybe it’s time to jump in and write.
And, if you’re in the messy middle or feeling swamped by details or drafts, remember: this is all part of the dream. Maybe you’re already living your dream and simply need reminders to keep going.