Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Thing About Following Your Dreams

Monday was low day for me. I'm not going to go into the details of everything that happened, but I basically spent the day telling myself that I would never be good enough to go anywhere in this business and that I shouldn't even pursue publishing because, what's the point?

My husband called me toward the end of the day, and even though I didn't say anything, he knew something was wrong. I broke down crying.

I had a reason for the cry, it was a stupid reason (no, it wasn't a rejection) and I knew it was stupid. Still, I felt compelled to fade out of the writing community and forget about publishing.

I mean, I like to write, so I should just do it for myself and not worry about putting my work out there. Putting work out there isn't the reason I write, so why do it?

When my husband came home, he told me to read this book called QUITTER. I didn't want to. I've been putting the book off because my husband read excerpts to me and I felt like I was already doing everything John Acuff mentions about following dreams.

A few hours later, after I had a good mope (which I'm excellent at), I picked up the book. Then I read this:

"The soundtrack we play in our minds is that our gift is nothing. Our dream really isn't that meaningful. It's just a bit of gossamer we play with sometimes. Don't think twice about it... if you admit that there is a chance that you are good, perhaps even great at something, you should feel a little uncomfortable. Because if your gift is nothing, that means it is something. And a gift that is something is always a little terrifying..."

That hit me in the gut. I'm terrified of putting my stuff out there. Not because I think people will hate it--hate is a given. I'm terrified because I'm afraid people won't like it enough.

The most terrifying thing about chasing a dream is that I want it. I want to be Stephanie Perkins, and Veronica Roth and Suzanne Collins, but I'm not there yet. I'm not even close, and that holds me back.

But something snapped in me Monday night. Reading QUITTER brought something to my attention. Dreams are going to be that way. So I'm not there yet. It doesn't mean I won't ever get there, it just means it'll take more time and more work

I'm going to admit the scariest thing in the world--I might be good at writing. If that's a truth (albeit an extremely hard one to say). Then that means I have to do something about it. If I hide, then that's the equivalent of me saying "I have this piece of gold in my hand, so I'm just going to  make sure no one ever sees it."

No. I need to take that gold and make it into something. As freaky as that might be, it's the reason I'm here.

That's the thing about dreams, if you don't use them, then you're ruining your opportunity to become something above average. And that is a life wasted.

35 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's like the story of the Talents. We can hide them or we can use them. And we know which one pleased God more.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

"after I had a good mope (which I'm excellent at)"

And here I thought I was the only one who excelled at moping. LOL Welcome to the club.

I get depressed when I read great writing or an amazing story and mope that I can't write like that. Fortunately I have a CP who talks me out of moods like that. :) Glad you have a hubby who does the same.

Jessica Peterson said...

I completely know how you feel. I actually took the plunge and self-published and after seeking out reviewers I got two bad reviews in one day, one horribly mean. That certainly made me question my abilities as a writer and whether or not I should even be sharing my work. Writers, or any artist for that matter, are so vulnerable it seems.

Ava Jae said...

What a wonderful post! I think many of us (even most of us) have at one point or another experienced what you did on Monday. Creative professions like writing are beyond difficult, at least partially because of the fact that a lot of it is a fight within ourselves—fighting off the ever-present doubts and accepting the title of writer.

I love the excerpt you shared and I agree entirely with your conclusion—it's up to us to make our dreams come true.

prerna pickett said...

this resonates with all us writers, and I love that you were brave enough to post it. We've all wanted to quite at one point or another, we've all felt inadequate. I'm glad you're not quitting, one day you will get there!

ilima said...

We'll often think we aren't good writers no matter what part of the dream we've reached. Even Stephanie Perkins goes thru it. It's inevitable. "Dreams are going to be that way." So true. But it's worth it.

Sarah said...

I feel bad. I haven't been checking out anyone's blogs lately, but I'm glad I checked yours today. I think I needed to hear that. Thanks, Jennie.

Michelle D. Argyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle D. Argyle said...

I also think it's dangerous to think that "we'll get there someday" because that's not what a dream is about, in my opinion. It's about making the choice to DO something you believe in, and enjoying the journey. Lately, I've been learning to think of my dreams as an expanding field already green and vibrant, not a road leading to a patch of green grass. I'm already living the dream. I've made a choice. That is what matters, and that, in my opinion, is what the dream is all about. Not the getting there. Not the final product. Not the status we seek. The actual DOING and to keep DOING and enjoying it. I think that's what we will remember the longest and the most. :)

Livia Peterson said...

I love this post, Jennie!

I always think my dreams won't come true, but then I realize I'm not quite there yet to let them become a reality. I gotta continue watching movies and writing reviews. If I don't, I will NEVER have the possibility of putting my reviews out there. Yes, it's a scary thing putting your writing out there, but that's the only way you'll get NOTICED by anyone.

I needed this. Thank you so much!

Jenny S. Morris said...

I'm so sorry you felt like that on Monday. :( I really do know how you feel. But it's awesome that your husband pushed you to read that book. It's so true. You can't let your talent and dream go to waste. !Fighting!

If you start feeling bad again just go watch a few shows. Maybe the one episode with Pillar in FBRS. You know which one I'm talking about ;)

S.P. Bowers said...

Wonderfully inspiring post! Thank you!

Morgan said...

Oh Jennie...

I have so, so, SO been here. Kind of am right now. It's so stinkin' hard. All of it. The emotional drain it is to work and work and work and wait and wait and wait. And it's so funny what triggers our breakdowns sometimes.

I love this post. Love. It speaks right to my soul. And I'm so glad you shared because it helps me. This journey is incredibly difficult, but it's possible. It is! We just have to keep going. And embrace the down moments just as much as the ups. <3

Charlie Holmberg said...

Everyone has moments like these. Everyone. And once you slough it off, it becomes a stepping stone to higher places.

Industries like this one are hard to break into. I wrote nine books before I got any attention, and I know one author who wrote 13 before landing a publishing deal. That's a lot of writing, and a lot of doubts along the way.

You will get there! This is a great, real post. Thank you for sharing. :)

Rena said...

Yeah, I think I might be where you were on monday, but like you, I found another vantage point to keep pushing forward. I love that you've allowed yourself to admit to being a good writer--You are! I think that part is actually really hard.

All I can say is good luck, and try to keep your chin up when you feel down again.

Samantha May said...

Plus, you never know how your work could impact someone else. What if your book turns someone into an avid reader or better yet, an aspiring writer?

Now imagine if you didn't pursue it. You wouldn't be the only one missing out...

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Admitting this is something you're good at is really hard! Why is that? I don't know. But I agree with you. :) I'm glad you are feeling ready to admit it to yourself so you can keep chasing that dream. You will catch it! You are awesome!

Stephen Tremp said...

I can feel what you went through. But Alex gave a great example. So don't bury your talents. Do your best and share with the world!

Peggy Eddleman said...

This was beautiful! It made me tear up. Thanks so much for sharing!

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

I know it can get discouraging, but never give up! JA, I'm a huge fan of yours already, and I cannot wait until you get your big break!

Kyra Lennon said...

*huggles* Stick with it, Jennie. It's HARD. Those doubts will always plague us, but you have so many people who believe in you. You can do this!

Haneen I. Adam said...

great post, came in time for me so thanks :)

Tasha Seegmiller said...

Holy flippity flip I needed this today. I submitted a pitch contest and didn't get picked and have my query being critiqued and right now, I'm pretty sure I'm the worst writer. I just need a good Diet Coke (or three) and remember that Kelly Clarkson said if it doesn't kill me, it'll make me stronger.

But did she really mean it?!? :)

Blue Skies said...

Well said - very well said.

Mark Noce said...

When you're in the bottom of the abyss you truly find yourself...keep trucking, you're doing great:)

Kelley Lynn said...

How could you NOT think you're a good writer after that post??? I had goosebumps reading this sucker! Wow.

And you are a great writer. I know because I've been blessed with the chance to read your work. :)

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Ironically a big lesson on dreams I learned recently was watching the Pixar Movie Monster University. There is both a happy and dark side to dreams. Dreams sometimes seem impossible but it's up to us to make them happen or change them into something we can accomplish.

Tara Tyler said...

i read thru all those positive comments and they cheered me up! and i wasnt even down!

you are a wonderful person with a voice that needs to be heard! you will be published! your fans are waiting!! like me!

Julie Dao said...

*giant hug* We've ALL been there, I promise you. I cycle through those phases CONSTANTLY. One day I'm confident and I know my story will kick ass, and then the next day, I'm a crying, stressed-out mess with stories that may never go anywhere but a dusty corner of my desk/heart. I think that if you know that writing is meant for you, you KNOW it. You have a feeling. And I also think that you don't have that feeling for no reason. Keep at it and know you are NOT alone.

Heather Holden said...

Wow, what a fantastic post, not to mention inspirational! I can relate to this so well as an artist. It's hard to convince myself I don't suck, and it's even why I quit for a year or so a few years back. You're right, we just have to have the courage to admit we have skill and keep on plugging forward, no matter what road blocks are in the way...

Leigh Covington said...

Excellent post Jennie! Glad you finally picked up that book to read it. Quitting often seems easier. I feel that way sometimes just because I don't know how to fit it all in and I don't feel like I'm making progress as much as I want. But I figure, some progress is better than no progress at all. As long as I keep moving forward. :) Keep smiling and keep going cause you're amazing!

Gina Gao said...

This is a great post! I usually don't quit because I list all of the reasons why I want to do/finish something.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Cortney Pearson said...

LOVE this post! I've definitely been there, where I've thought--I can't do this, why am I even bothering? But I find I always pick myself back up. (And yay for awesome hubbies who are supportive and listen!) I do it because I love it and am determined I can keep trying and get myself out there. Love that quote too. So great, Jennie!

Kim Webb Reid said...

Great topic we can all relate to. And I agree with Michelle Argyle. At WIFYR a few years ago, author Martine Leavitt shared a few pieces of wisdom she said writers find hard to accept: Writing the book is the best part about publishing a book. She said publishing will not give you any of the things you dream it will, like $, more validation, etc. So why not give yourself permission to enjoy the part you already love? Thanks for the QUITTER quote!

Allison said...

I think you are an excellent writer, and that your work will be discovered and praised and cherished. It does take time to get there but it's rewarding. I believe you have what it takes to be a Bestseller Author. Keep working hard. You are awesome. Don't let your inner critique tell you otherwise. I've also chosen to be on the same journey as you. Maybe we can get together sometime for a writer's night or something. :)