Originally published as a guest post on Talk Less, Say More.
“I want to be a doctor, a ballerina, and a house-builder.” At my kindergarten graduation, this was my answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
As kids, we know how to dream big, don’t we? But it seems like somewhere along the way between high school and college and needing a job that will pay the rent, we seem to forget those big dream. Instead of setting our eyes on the horizon, we set our eyes on the weekend to the time when we can binge-watch our current Netflix obsession.
Don’t get me wrong, we need time to relax and unwind. But we need to find a better balance between downtime and pursuing our dreams.
I’ve been writing novels since I was 14 years old. Between theater practice and homework, I would find time to pound out a few hundred words because I had a dream of becoming a published author one day.
Fast forward to college, I fiddle with short stories (which I hated) for creative writing class, but other than that I was too busy to fit writing into my schedule. I had class and sleep and friends to worry about.
After college, I had a weird transition year in which I moved to Mexico. I couldn’t get a job because I didn’t have the right visa—and my Spanish was awful. After a month of binge-watching TV, I sat my butt down to write 5,000 words a week.
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I had no clue what I was doing. I had no idea other than “Teenage girl travels to Mexico. Funny things happen.” But I had a dream, a goal in mind.
I finished that first, horrible draft and then I picked it to pieces. Whole chapters landed on the cutting room floor. I read books and articles on the craft of writing. I studied and worked, and by the time I was done. I was pretty darn proud of myself.
I hired an editor to help me refine the story. I thought she’d come back telling me how great the story was. Nope. Not even close.
Back to the cutting room. Back to the books on craft. Back to the hours of hard work, but I was now back in the States, balancing a full time job. It was tiring and at times I hated the work, but I had a passion for it and I could not stop.
Once again, I was proud of myself. I was ready for an agent, I thought. So I sought out a conference. Instead of an agent, I got an ego check and a whole lot of knowledge. I allowed myself about four hours to feel crushed. I crawled back to my room and cried to my husband. Then I picked myself up, soaked in everything I could, and went back to the drawing board.
I started the novel again from scratch. It was painful and painstaking. I left my job and found more flexible work. It didn’t pay as much, but it allowed me to pursue my goal.
I hired yet another editor. And finally, I had moved past the story-wide problems. More conferences, more heartbreak, but I made some amazing connections. Those connections led me to my first break—an agent.
Months of refinement and proposals later, I was offered a book deal. Now, three and a half years after I began the first draft, my YA travel novel, Sketchy Tacos, is for sale on Amazon.
When you dare to dream big and throw all your effort into making those dreams come true, you can move mountains.
One month or one year goals are great, but you’ll see true change in those three-, five-, and ten-year goals. For those college entrance essays, they ask us what we want to do with our life. Too often, that’s the last time we ask ourselves this crucial question. Well, no more!
For me, I want to be a career author. I want to make a full-time living from writing and teaching other how to write so they can skip all the painful mistakes I made.
What about you? What do you want to accomplish in your life? How will your contributions make the world a better place?
These are the questions we need to asking to live all out and accomplish our dreams.
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