Now, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, here. I’m not announcing that I am leaving my cush job as the best EA this side of the Mason Dixon or throwing off my secret identity Writer Cape and flitting off to become a high priced call girl opposite a handsome Corporate Executive. For one, I can’t wear those boots.
Erm, no. I recently read a FANTABULOUS blog post by Roni Loren entitled “Traditional or Self-Publishing: Defining Your Dream” , based on an article written by Phil Cooke entitled How Much Did It Take To Buy You Away From Your Dream?
It immediately made me think of the opener to Pretty Woman, in which a corner salesman shouts out, “Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream?” I wrote a short (fanfiction) story based on Pretty Woman, and read it just last night, so odd that it would come up, today.
Anywayz, Roni’s post talks about that line in Up in the Air, when George Clooney’s character is getting ready to fire this middle management guy (who used to be a Chef) and stops to ask him how much it took to buy him away from his dream. When did stability and security become more important than doing what made him happy? Roni applied this to her writing life by examining what her dream is, as an author, and which path was more likely to take her there. She writes:
Here’s what my dream consists of:
- The chance to share my stories with others and (hopefully) entertain them.
- The ability to at least make a similar salary writing books as I was making as a management recruiter (The job I had before I had my son.)
- Validation from professionals that my writing is good and marketable.
- To hold my book in my hands and see it on the shelves of bookstores.
- Okay, and having some fans and a big readership wouldn’t suck.
So when you analyze the main components of my dream, you can probably see why self-publishing an ebook wouldn’t have been the total fulfillment of my dream. I could have accomplished some of these, but not all of them. And some people may scoff at the validation piece, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could land an agent and a big publisher. Maybe it’s bad to look to others to measure if I’m “good enough” but that’s how I’m built when it comes to my writing.
She also writes that it’s important for each writer to discover their own dream and determine what it will take to achieve it. This makes me really stop to think about what my dream as a writer is.
I haven’t always been as SRS BZNS as a writer as I have been in the past year or so. I wrote in high school and liked being called talented. I wrote in college and found that papers came out pretty easily. I attended Creative Writing Conferences and won awards and even a scholarship for my writing. And then I graduated from college and subsquentely lost about half my IQ points. I honestly began reading again because I felt like I was getting dumber every year.
Through reading, I started to miss writing. I returned to writing with fanfiction because it was easy– the world was already built, and your readers are already going to know your characters. Change the setting and situations, add your original characters, mix at high speed, bake and serve. My fanfic stories have always hung on the very edge of fanfiction, though… which is why I’m trying to take the next step into original adult fiction.
But is my dream to just write stories and load them up on my archive and never pimp them and never have anyone ever read my work? Do I want to be published? Do I want an Agent and an Editor and a Publishing contract? What’s my dream? And how much would it take to buy me out of it?
Unlike a lot of writers my age, I’m single. And childless. And petless. I don’t even have a plant– seriously, I don’t even have any mold growing anywhere. It’s just me, so unless I win MegaMillions, it’s not like I can choose writing over the stability and structure of of my day job. That sort of answers my question for me. The exact amount of my annual income is what it costs me, every year, to buy me out of my dream. And if I’m being honest, seeing my book on a bookshelf at a bookstore would be a total dream come true. Having someone send me an email that says ‘you don’t know me but I read your book and could really identify with your charatcters’, or ‘your book really affected me’ or even ‘you’ve inspired me’ would be great.
For me, I don’t think it’s a matter of being published traditionally, or indie, or self. It’s a matter of doing it PERIOD. I’ve sort of always thought that I’d go for the big guns and if 99 peopl said no, I’d take the hint. For me, stability and security and my dream have to co-exist. At least for now, one feeds the other. If I lost my job, no way could I concentrate on writing. I’d be too busy worried about where my next meal or rent payment is coming from. If I quit writing, I fear I’d become a very tense, even more introspective person and never let anything out, ever again. That, my friends, would be UNGOOD.
Today’s post really, really got me thinking about this dream, though. I mentioned yesterday that my writing persona is like a secret identity and at some point I might have to unveil her, if I plan on actually achieving my dream. That’s really frightening to me… and you know what that tells me? It won’t be a matter of what I publish and what route I take. It’ll be the sheer terror of putting myself out there.
My fear is what it will take to buy me away from my dream.
Does anyone else feel this way? Or am I on Lonely Island? Anyone else absolutely scared out of their mind… that they might make it?