Everyone has a dream. A dream to fall in love. A dream to be successful in a certain career. A dream to visit someplace or see someone. Yet, there’s always that voice inside your head that whispers doubt. Maybe it whispers that you’re not good enough to be loved or you don’t have what it takes to climb the ladder in your dream career. Maybe you don’t have the funding to go to that one location you always wanted to see or that someone you want to meet is always out of reach, why would they notice you? Why should your dream come true?
I think I’ve made my dream pretty clear. I want to be a published author. I want to write fantastic, magical, and exciting stories that people all over will love. However, that’s a pretty big ambition, and discouragement hits at every turn. When no one provides and no agents express a desire to represent me, the doubt in my head can get pretty loud and hounding. Some nights, it makes me wonder if its worth sitting at the computer and writing anything at all.
I like to think that every aspiring author in the world believes that they have the greatest story–the next Harry Potter–they just need someone to give them a chance. I like to think that about other writers, because that’s how I feel. Maybe, saying my novel is the next Harry Potter is too bold a claim, but it is a good book with good characters, and lessons to light the way. Yet, then comes the wondering. Even though I think my novel is fantastic, that doesn’t mean its true. How can a novel be good if no one except the author gives it the time of day? That’s some pretty heavy doubt.
I recently watched the movie: Stranger than Fiction with Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. It’s about a man, with a rather dull life, who suddenly starts hearing a voice narrating everything he does. Turns out, an author in that same city is writing a book and he’s the main character. Unfortunately, this author is an author of tragedies, and the main character finds out he’s going to die. It’s a great movie. I certainly enjoyed it, but I watched it from an author’s point of view. At one point, the author in the movie and her main character meet (and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve envisioned what it would be like if I got to meet one of my characters. I would be ecstatic–well, depending on the character, of course. I certainly wouldn’t want to meet the main bad guy). I like to think of my characters like imaginary friends. I’d ask them questions and ponder their responses or they’d be my escape in a moment of reality I don’t want to be a part of. Often times, they help me be bolder, or kinder, or whatever it is that they would do if they found themselves in a situation that I end up in. It might sound crazy, but my characters are certainly more than words on a page.
Stranger than Fiction is not a movie that’s suppose to make you cry, but I cried. There’s a scene where the author finds herself in terrible conflict and doubt. She’s leaving her workplace in utter disarray because she’s torn on the scales on whether or not to continue her novel. Whether or not she should kill her main character. That’s when someone in the movie comes running up to her with a smile on their face. They hand her the nearly completed manuscript for her novel and say just a few simple words that brought tears to my eyes:
“I loved your book. I think you should finish it.”
That’s all any author wants to hear, right? You put your heart, sweat, and tears into a novel and you just want to know if it’s all worth it. The same goes for any dream! If you want to be an actor, you want someone to say “I love your acting. I think you should pursue this.” Or maybe you want to be something else? Maybe that dream location that seems so far out of reach or that chance of falling in love is possible. Fighting for your dreams alone sucks and yet, one word of encouragement from someone else can go a long way and fight our battles in one swing rather than our desperate solo swipes.
I like to believe I’m a good writer. This website seems to be doing pretty well and the members of the roleplay I’m a part of told me once that they looked up to me. They strive to be better writers because of how I’ve been writing in our roleplays. That’s good and all, but its my novel that my writings are supposed to be supporting and with how busy 2020 is for everyone, reading is not a priority, so the discouragement that maybe my novel isn’t good enough is heavy on my heart. I keep holding on, though, and I pray that something will give. I hold faith that the people I’ve asked to read my novel will get it back to me soon, but even though 2020 is ending, that doesn’t mean all the craziness that came with it will leave as well.
I’ll be honest. I thought 2020 would be my year. I thought an agent would decide to represent me and I’d be on my way to getting published. I’ve spent eleven years now writing my novel and I’ve learned a lot within that timeframe on how to improve my writing and craft a good story. Yet, as the years stretch on, there’s that nagging of impatience that just eats at my skin. I’ve spent ELEVEN YEARS improving this story, how many more is going to take for it to get published? What else do I possibly need to learn to earn my way into a paperback novel? It’s a struggle, but as someone reminded me recently: it’s not my timing. I’m certainly learning patience (or trying too, but I’d rather not wait until I’m fifty for my novel to get published). If anyone out there has any advice on how to improve my chances, I’d love to hear it. If you’re willing to spare a prayer, I could use all the help I could get. Let me know if there’s a dream of yours I could pray for too. Eleven years is a long time, but I’ll wait as long as it takes to hold a published version of my novel in my hands. I mean, I’ve gone this far, why give up now? Why let the doubt win?
Whatever dream you have, I hope you stick to it. Don’t give into the doubt that you’ll never make it. Whatever you’re pursuing. Whatever goal you’re reaching toward. Don’t give up! A dream can’t become reality through a magic snap of the fingers. It takes sweat, determination, hard work, and a refusal to give up. So, don’t listen to the doubt, because that’s a load of lies and it can’t stop you! It’s like that old saying that I heard in school over and over and over again: you only truly fail when you stop trying. 2020 sucked for a lot of us, but that doesn’t mean that your dreams are over. I had high hopes for this year and I just I ended up losing count of all the rejections and passes I’ve gotten for my novel. Yet, I keep querying, because if I stop, then I’ll truly never get published. The same goes for any dream: wanting to fall in love, wanting that big career, wanting to change the world, or visit some special place. As long as you keep trying and pursuing that goal, you still have a chance. So, don’t listen to the doubt. Go beyond it and make your dreams come true.