Never give up! I watched a wonderful movie called Whiplash this year. It's about a boy and his dream to become a great jazz musician, the odds stacked against him in the form of a sadistic conductor (can we say mind f**ker?) and the little voices in his head pulling him in different directions. It was inspiring and got me wondering about my own dreams.
When I was young, I had one. I wanted to be a famous actress, the next Barbra Streisand. I wanted to bask in the adulation of my audience till I took my last breath. I packed my bags after graduation and headed to New York, full of hope and promise. And...it took exactly one audition for me to change my mind. I froze and gave up in the blink of an eye. My lifelong dream was gone with the wind.
I’ve had goals since then, but dreams? I had to think long and hard about that one. I reached deep within… and realized I do have an actual dream. Compared to my fantasies of singing with Babs, it's relatively new, made as an adult, not a six year old singing in a garage.
I wanted to write and publish a book.
I've been itching to do this for at least a decade, but never made the time. This past year, time was made for me, so I took the leap. I sat down, let my imagination wander and the story came pouring out of me. It’s not Pulitzer Prize winning material, but it's a solid story and I’m proud of my work.
I love the writing process. Getting lost in another world, creating characters out of thin air. They are real in my mind, they live inside my head. I suffered with them, I exulted in their victories. I watched them stumble and fall, then pick themselves up and dust themselves off. I put the obstacles in their way, and I had the power to make their dreams come true. The story could be anything I wanted it to be. I was able to play God for a few months. And I have to tell you, I’m hooked.
I even loved editing the hundreds of drafts which followed (though punctuation can kiss my proverbial ass!). When I polished off the final draft, I had two choices. I could stick it in a drawer and cross it off my bucket list… or… I could go the distance and publish my book, share my story with the masses (the masses being women looking to escape reality and get lost in a good romance!).
Writing my three-hundred page+ masterpiece was easy compared to the next phase of the process. Selling my book. For a very brief spell, I tried out the traditional route. I sent out a few query letters to agents (apparently you need one of those before a publisher will look at you)...and waited, hoping and praying my labor of love, as a friend described it, didn’t end up stuck in a drawer forever. How good do you think the chances are of a publisher magically appearing at my door with a two book deal and a six figure advance? Now that’s a dream!
I received a few rejection letters (ouch, those hurt. Even if they were based off a three paragraph letter, not my actual book) and decided to go the non-traditional route. As my parents can attest, I've never done anything traditional in my life, why start now? Ah, it felt good to shake off those shackles and take back the controls!
So, I'm going for it! I'm putting my baby out there. And let me tell you, it's scary. It's like publishing my diary for everyone to read...except (bonus) none of it's true, but you get the gist. I'm essentially courting criticism. But, I ask you...what's worse? The criticism of others? Or regret?
I feel like the drummer from Whiplash. There isn’t a conductor standing in front of me, belittling me, telling me I’m not good enough. I'm sure those critics will come and try to wreak havoc with my mind. But I have the wisdom of a few decades behind me and when it comes down to it, I don't really care what they have to say. I have a little conductor living inside my head, saying much worse. And I would like to share the sentiments of that drummer to the conductor inside my head…
F**k you. You can’t stop me.