Recently during a Twitter pitch party. I posted a 145-character tweet to stand in for the 60,000 words that are the product of the last nine months of my life. The summation of all the typing, editing, and heart wrenching work on my latest novel all reduced to 145 characters. I’m tempted to whine and complain about how unfair it all is, or to wonder if I could tell the story in 145-characters why did it take me sixty-thousand? Yet that is a discussion for another day.
The event that spawned this post is something one of the hosts of the event said to me when I shared some affirming comments made to me by a new reader. In a very positive and encouraging reply, she said “That's something!! Keep chasing your dreams; you'll get there!”
It was a very nice reply and it was kind that she took a moment to say it. But it made me think about how far outside the norm I must be.
The standard assumption is that a writer is young student writing their thoughts and ideas in a notebook in a coffee shop somewhere inventing a new plot with compelling characters in a fascination world. And, that success in writing is routinely called a dream, a distant goal that a person must strive for and might never achieve.
For me writing is more like the symptom of an illness that I recently came down with. A burning, itching, and chafing desire to tell stories, share ideas, and make someone laugh.
I didn’t begin writing until I was fifty. I’d had some dismal English teachers in school, but I still liked reading. Yet, nothing I had ever been told gave me the slightest idea that I might be able to write things other people might want to read.
Still saying that writing success is a dream implies, to me at least, that success is only measured in a commercial sense. To me the idea that I could earn money by writing was silly. I have been working all my life, and although I have no aversion to gaining financially from my words, it certainly wasn’t a job that anyone I had ever met had.
Dreams aren’t real. Dreams are part of the fantasy world of in our mind. So, it makes me worry for that young person sipping her latte and feeling all that pressure. The possibility that they might be measuring their worth based on how well they write. But I want that person to know that (at least for me) writing isn’t about re-inventing yourself–it’s about sharing yourself. Make yourself someone worth sharing. Dream about more than writing, dream about a full life and then go live it. Then you’ll have so much to write about it will pour forth and you will find satisfaction in writing and in life.