Monday, July 6, 2015

The Evolution Of An Author's Dream

Every writer starts off with a dream.

Some dream big, for example, snagging a publishing deal from a specific publishing house or the ‘red carpet moment’ at the movie premier of your book adaptation. Others dream of just getting to the end of that first messy draft. 
Dreams vary. 
It depends on which point of the journey you’re at. As the journey progresses, the dream shifts/changes…

Four well-known writers in our community are here to share about the author dream, and how it has evolved/changed over time...

These are the questions.
How has your author dream evolved/changed over time?
When you started out as a writer, what was your initial dream?
Up until this point, how has the dream played out?
Has it unfolded according to your expectations?
When you wonder what kind of author you will be like tomorrow, what do you envisage?

Mary Pax
The Galaxy is Going to Know My Name

Book tours, autographs, travel, books piled high on bookstore shelves, everyone wanting to know me, Oprah, awards, greatest American novel: these were the dreams shoving me onto the road of authordom.
I went to writers conferences and pitched my first novel to four agents. All four wanted to see it... so I know there’s something to the idea, however, it wasn’t yet ready for primetime.
The smartest thing I did was shove the manuscript in a drawer (after at least 25 revisions) and start writing short fiction. I’d buy a craft book and practice what it preached. I submitted to magazines and racked up a good number of rejections. Some of the rejection was personal feedback, which was encouraging.
In the meantime, I met Lindsay Buroker online and she swayed me into trying this electronic publishing thing. I began it as a means to grow my audience in order to get the agent and the publishing deal. Now I don’t mind if I don’t get them. I have fantastic fans, and I know I’ve made a difference in some people’s lives. That’s worth more than all the things I listed.
I lost my biggest fan recently (my baby brother) and one of the last things he said to me was he wanted to walk into Barnes & Noble and buy the entire stock of my books. If it happens, great. If not, I’ll still be publishing.
All the options we have as writers is wonderful, and I intend to use them to make a living at this gig some year. I still dream of hitting it big and seeing one of my stories as a TV series. Yeah, that would be cool.
My Husband Unit recently spoke to John Sanford, who said it took him 25-30 books to hit. Tenacity is definitely required in this business. Good thing I have it in spades (nicely offsets my lack of patience).

Tara Tyler Robinson

When life slowed down, I came across my story and thought it would be great if I could publish it. I went through years of learning, editing, entering contests, and overcoming failure, but I finally got my second manuscript published.

My author's dream has changed with each achievement. First, it was to get published, and then see my book on a shelf. Now, my dream is to reach more readers. It's an awesome feeling to see someone light up because they liked your book - it's that connection with people on a deeper level.

Being an author takes a lot of hard work and perseverance - and acceptance that not everyone will like your book. I do all I can to accomplish my goals and I hope for positive results,I don't expect them. Work pays off, with a little luck and timing.

As for tomorrow, we authors face new challenges. I try to keep up with the ever-changing techie ways of the industry for publishing and especially promoting. And I appreciate the ability to interact with other authors. I'd never be where I am without them!

Joy Campbell
We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.
Jesse Owens

When I set out to be an author, the publishing world was a different place. I had several books published with two small presses before I heard the term 'self-publishing'. At that time, nothing else would do for me, but the traditional route. After having three books published and not seeing much of a stir by my publishers in terms of P.R. or marketing, I wanted to explore an exciting, new world where I'd be in charge of my writing and everything else that went into producing a book.

I'm a believer in learning something new every day, which means expanding my knowledge on the various aspects of self-publishing has been enlightening, frustrating and sort of like being in school all the time. The demands bringing a book to market has ensured that I know a lot more now than when I was first published. I haven’t hit the big times yet, but since I can't know which book will be the one, I dedicate myself to each story I write. If you ask me which story is my best so far, I'll tell you each qualifies.
Like a good tale, my journey has taken unexpected twists.  I wanted to be a household name in Jamaica, but  quickly realized it would be easier to land a publishing contract outside of the island and that's the route I took. Despite the advances in technology, many Jamaicans still read paper and ink books and I have chosen to sell my work electronically to reach a wider audience. I'm enjoying the virtual world publishing has opened for me, plus the limitless possibilities.

I see myself continuing to tell stories that enlighten, entertain and resonate with readers. Learning is important to me, so I'll always be improving my skills. I'm slowly letting go of being a perfectionist, which is challenging. As Suki Michelle Clark, a talented writer, said so eloquently, 'Readers don't pay for our labor. They pay for being entertained, and if a novel whipped out in a month is entertaining, it will sell far better than a boring one that was laboriously gone over for three years. Sad, ironic, true.'
Medeia Sharif
It all started when I was seventeen. I was writing a book about a young, vegetarian serial killer. Since I had taken AP English, I was adding all sorts of themes and areas of symbolism. I dreamed of agents getting me book and movie deals. I thought I would write full-time, eventually living in a nice mansion by the sea. Wasn’t that how authors lived, after all? When I was eighteen I completed the book, or so I thought, and was ready to submit. I was floating high on my fantasies, so the rejections that were coming in alarmed me.   

I thought writing was something that would come naturally to me since I loved to read and wrote poems and short stories in middle school. No, much more is needed. I had to write numerous “drawer manuscripts,” none of which became published works or movies, before my writing became publishable. My writing continues to evolve through experience and feedback. I was impatient as a young writer, but I now know that the writing and submitting processes are lengthy.  

Another thing I didn’t expect was how many people I’d end up working with. Many of my favorite authors from my youth were basically with the same agents and publishing houses for years, yet I’m always working with someone new. I’ve had various agents and my books have been published by different presses. Nothing is set in stone, which is okay.

So my expectations today are very different than the ones I used to have. I’m more realistic. I dreamed big in my teens and early twenties. I was in a writing slump in my mid-twenties, which I never thought would happen. By my late twenties, I had more bites from agents and editors. By my early thirties, I was finally going to conferences and joining critique groups, with yet more bites. In my mid thirties was when I got the ball rolling. I don’t expect to be a millionaire, but I’m happy writing, exploring new formats and genres, and getting my work published. And the more I write, who knows…maybe I will get that mansion and movie deal one day.
Medeia Sharif
YA and MG Author

Thank you to these four authors for sharing with us today.
What does your author dream look like at the moment? How far have you come on the journey? Any surprises along the way?


Blogoratti said...

Great thoughts indeed. Thanks for sharing!

G. B. Miller said...

It looks different. What I had back in '06 when I started, versus what it became in '09 are two radically different issues. Almost like a time warp.

Father Nature's Corner

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks for including me, Michelle. We're all taking different routes to our dreams, but the journey has some similarities.

Jen said...

Wonderful post! Thank you to all who contributed!! At least I know all those drawer manuscripts aren't a waste :)

Christine Rains said...

Love this post! I like reading how everyone's dreams have evolved. I used to dream of being the next Stephen King, but now I would just like to make a comfortable living from writing. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think most of us had unrealistic ideas of what a writer's life was like. Very few are living in those mansions. I'm comfortable where I am now and that alarms me a little. I need to keep pushing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Such different dreams and different paths. Proves there are so many ways to succeed.
I'm really curious about that vegetarian serial killer now.

Just Keepin It Real, Folks! said...

I so enjoyed everyone's perspective. I'm so new to the process so this definitely helped me see the big picture.

cleemckenzie said...

Loved reading about each of these writer's stories about their dreams of writing.

M Pax said...

The industry keeps changing, but the writing stays the same. Thanks for inviting me to participate.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Everyone's story was wonderful. Writing dreams do come true.

Unknown said...

I think there is a trend that is going to be busted. Authors of yesteryear needed to abandon aspirations after hitting a certain age, but now there is always opportunity for authors to prosper. Rejection is the only bit holding authors back. Just like any craft authors need leather-thick skin to survive. Get started now. Always now. After that is too late and there will be less time to recover.

Cynthia said...

It's nice to see familiar names on the writers blogosphere sharing their thoughts about their writing journey.

Lan said...

Thank you to those authors who shared their stories. I agree with Medeia that when I first started I had grand delusions about books turned into movies and mansions by the sea. The more I learn about the process and the odds the less sparkly my dreams have become. But that doesn't mean I want them any less. Learning at this point is the key and also writing stories I would love to read myself. My craft isn't the most polished and that's why I keep telling people I'm a story teller and not a writer! I hope one day we can all get where we want to be.

Toi Thomas said...

Thanks for sharing you dreams with us. I'm not really sure what my dream is. I just want to write and get better at it until I know it's as good as it's going to get. I guess my dream would be to know that I'm able to entertain peoople with my stories. Fame and money would definitely be nice, but just to get a fan message once in while that says, hey I read your book and didn't hate it, would be good for me.

Chemist Ken said...

Inspirational stories, to say the least. May all your dreams and wished come true. Just keep writing!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Great theme and article Michelle...

Wonderful to get more personal with our blogger friends. We all have dreams and it's nice to know they evolve into what makes us feel fulfilled and happy!

Gail said...

All wonderful advice.

I have been writing forever, seems like, and have had a few single pieces published but do not even remember where.

Basically, I don't even know how to begin trying to publish. I see contests and they want money, self-publishing takes money, but I keep writing and the pile grows.

I may have a novella but have piles of short stories and poetry.

Help! How do I start? Is there a market for short story collections, poetry?

I'm sixty so I need to find out soon.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to be included in this, as well as read about other writers' evolving dreams.

Belle said...

I loved reading about these author's dreams. Wonderful post.

Tara Tyler said...

It was great to read all these comments - very supportive and like-minded, just like the iwsg! I enjoyed all the other stories as well! Thanks again for including me, Mish!

Robyn Campbell said...

I'm late, pal. But I made it. LOVE this. There are so many roads, many filled with pits and mountains. But we all want the same thing. To write our stories. That's what it's all about. These stories are wonderful. Love Mary's tenacity. :-)

Michelle Wallace said...

Thank you to the four authors for sharing and to everybody who stopped by and commented!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I'm thrilled to announce... I KNOW THESE AUTHORS! Reading about their dreams makes the day brighter.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I'm thrilled to announce... I KNOW THESE AUTHORS! Reading about their dreams makes the day brighter.

Unknown said...

Thank you Michelle, for bringing these great ladies together to share what they've learned on their publishing journey. Each of them said things that really resonate with me.

With Mary, it's her tenacity and lack of patience! lol
With Tara, it's to reach readers and have fans. I'd love to feel people really wanted to read the stories I write.
With Joy, I share the feeling of being in school all the time! It's hard to try to figure out how to succeed, but a good challenge always sparks my interest.
With Medeia, it's her "alarming" realization that even though she was a gifted student and excelled at English, writing books is a whole other animal and requires a huge amount of effort.

Thanks for the great article! :)

Jen said...

Great read. I'm impatient, I thought I'd have more done before now I'm 30. Ive let life and a lack of confidence get in the way. I always wanted a book published but found short stories a way to boast my confidence and learn the basics. I could learn more and my novel when I finish it probably won't be published. Hoping to get it done to move on to the next and finish my short stories