Monday, September 16, 2013

Dreaming The Dream

On Saturday I had a signing, which even after a few events still kinda feels surreal. Sometimes I don't feel like this is actually my job—that I got the dream I wanted for so long. Part of this might be due to the fact that I'm afraid it'll all slip out of my hands, and another part may have to do with how different "the dream" matches up to "the reality."

But at my signing, I was flung back to before I had written my first full novel. Back to when being an author was a big fat dream and I had no idea how long it would take to achieve it—or if I ever would.

You see, a girl came up to me that night. I'm not sure how old she was, but I'm guessing young 20s. She didn't buy a book. She seemed really nervous to even talk to me, but also curious and hopeful and excited at the same time.

She asked me how long it took me to write my book, and of course I told her a little about my publishing journey. I tried to be honest while also being encouraging—I hope I didn't scare her off with my almost 8-year-long road to publication. It's such a hard balance to strike, between giving real information and not being too "this is ridiculously hard."

She smiled and nodded at me, saying, "It's my dream to publish just one book. Just one. To accomplish that would be amazing."

Those words. They flung me back to over a decade ago when I was in college and dreaming of the exact same thing. Just one book. I remember feeling like if I could just write one novel, if I could get one single book published, if I could see my name on a cover—then I will have accomplished a lifelong dream. I didn't need fame or fortune, awards or book tours. All I wanted was my name on a novel. To see that novel on a shelf. It felt like a huge and lofty undertaking.

As I sat there, looking at this sweet young woman with hope and big dreams, I realized I was looking at my past self. Though I don't know her name, though she wasn't really my fan or anything, I'm not sure I'll ever forget that moment.

How greedy I've now become. That's what I've been thinking about the last few days. Somewhere along the way, that one book on a shelf with my name on it has morphed into wanting more. More books. More attention. More money. More success. I'd forgotten just how "simple" my dream used to be. How pure, you might say. I forget that I've already achieved the thing that felt so impossible just a decade ago.

I have come a long way. It's crazy to think I'm now the author on the other side of the table. The person with a book out there and more to come.

Thank you, young aspiring writer girl at my signing, for reminding me to be more grateful. Sometimes I forget how far away publishing a novel felt when I was on your side of the table. When I hadn't even started that first serious novel. I don't know where you are or if you'll ever see this, but I hope you reach for your goal, hard as it may be. I wish you all the luck in the world, and I pray you don't ever forget how awesome your dream is.

And if you do, I hope you meet a hopeful young writer who reminds you, just like you did to me.


  1. I think we need this reminder often. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Dreams are such fickle nothingstuff yet it takes courage and strength to bear them.

  3. That must feel so amazing to have someone looking to you as their inspiration when you used to feel like you would never get to where you are. I am that young woman, too. It's my dream to just get one book published. Just one. I want it so bad, but it feels like I'm never going to be able to make it happen. Reading about your story has definitely been inspiring to me, and I hope one day to be where you are - on the other side of the author table. :)

  4. I can relate to her and you. I think I said those same words, "just one book," to my college Prof almost...well, it was a few years ago. I'm not published yet. But with any luck, and a lot of hard work, I will be.

  5. Was just talking to a couple writer-friends about this today. :)

  6. Thanks, Natalie! Your posts always inspire me to keep on trying.

  7. I don't think you're greedy for wanting to publish more books; you already made one dream come true, so I think it's good to have more dreams.

  8. Lovely post.

    I think there's a balance to be achieved, between dreaming of that one book, and wanting more and more and more. And there's a difference, too. You can dream of "just one book." But there's still more to do once you achieve that dream. I agree with Neurotic, here. We always need dreams, things to strive for.

    Maybe instead of dreaming to have "just one book" your dream can always be "one more book."

  9. That's my dream too. ^.^ Just one novel...(and then I get greedy and crash my own dream by saying I-want-to-publishing-hundreds-of-novels... Quiet, overzealous ambition. Hush). That's a really special moment. I hope that writer gets her dream TOO.

  10. Hi Natalie, this is a timely message for me as I approach my first book being published in October. My husband recently had a health scare that put the book firmly in its place - an irrelevant, if fun detail. If I had to choose between his health and a career in publishing... it's a dream, it's rewarding, but it's just a book. Thank you for the reminder!

  11. Every once in awhile, a moment like that really does put things in perspective.