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MIddling on dreams...

I think I've blogged about this before, but it's been on my mind lately, and so I'm up for a repeat ;)

I'm not talking about nighttime dreams here, but rather the dreams we experience when we want something -- when we make goals. For those of us who pursue artistic and creative endeavors, dreams of what we HOPE will happen can carry us when real life isn't quite there (or isn't even close). But...

All too often, in my own life and on the blog pages of others, I've seen how dreams can actually work against us when given too much weight. Let's start with me. In 2007 or 2008 (it doesn't really matter which one), I wrote a book. Like the books which came before it, I queried and got amazing responses. In fact, at one point, I had 18 fulls out with agents for this book. Needless to say, my dream-life took off, and I was banking on having those dreams come true. After all, it certainly appeared as if it would happen.

But it didn't. Nothing came of it -- not one thing. I was beyond discouraged. The depression and frustration I felt after crashing and burning like that sank its claws into my day-to-day life, and I could barely function. It took a long time to pull myself out of that, and since then, I handle my dreams with much more care.

This doesn't mean I don't dream at all -- of course I do. But I always remind myself that my happiness isn't dependent on whether or not those dreams come true. I know I've mentioned this here before, but this topic always brings me back to the words I heard at a wedding: if an unhappy single person gets married, he/she doesn't suddenly become a happy person. Instead, he/she simply transitions to an unhappy married person. The same is true for any dream -- so unhappy pre-published writers will not find happiness in publication. Happiness -- contentment (which is beyond happiness, as it's not dependent on circumstances) -- comes from within, from an ability to live and enjoy life's moment, whether or not dreams are being fulfilled.

This all came to mind because of a couple of posts I read on the Blue Boards where folks were encouraging another writer about a recent struggle. I love the support and encouragement I find there, but sometimes, I feel like too much emphasis is placed on finally reaching those dreams. I understand it, of course, because that's why we're a group of writers -- we all want to be published. But when I hear things like 'it's darkest before dawn', I get a little frustrated. The truth of it is (for me, which is the only truth I can attest to, no?), my writing journey has been dark for the past two years. I've been writing (because I love it), but I've gotten no positive responses to any queries. Right as I can see that my writing is maturing and growing is also when the interest level has dropped to nil. Nothing. Nada.

BUT that's where true contentment comes to play. Yes, my dreams are not even close to being fulfilled. However, I'm happy. My life is good. There are ups and downs of emotions, but overall, life is good. My dreams might never come true, no matter how hard I work or how amazing my writing becomes. But that's okay -- my contentment and happiness isn't dependent on dreams.

Side note: This also reminds me of when I was still single (in my 20s) and everyone around me was getting married (and I didn't even have a boyfriend). I had to get to the point where I was completely content with my singleness before there was even a hint of romance. I tend to believe this is true for most people (though not always about romance). When there's something we really, really want, often we have to learn how to find our happiness without it before it comes our way.

What do you think?

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
karenbschwartz
Jul. 20th, 2011 10:38 pm (UTC)
Good points, Robin. I think the Blueboards are all about support so that's what people seek there when they post. I think the most important thing is to have balance in your life so it's not all about this one manuscript and one person's opinion of it. I think its good to reach for publication, but you're absolutely right that the joy is truly in creating unique stories because that's what you like to do.
robinellen
Jul. 21st, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
:) It's definitely nice to find joy in the writing itself, regardless of the outcome!
deenaml
Jul. 20th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
Yes yes yes yes yes! I COMPLETELY agree. :)
robinellen
Jul. 21st, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
I'm not surprised you get it :)
(Deleted comment)
robinellen
Jul. 21st, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
"...its own reward" and perhaps the easiest part of the process (as far as stress goes).
anabelgonzalez
Jul. 21st, 2011 03:10 am (UTC)
I always repeat to myself something: "No one can love what you do or whay your are if you don't love it yourself."
For me this is also for happiness you don't find happiness in someone else or in things or dreams achieved, there you find fulfillment but not happinnes and peace with yourself, that's something inside of you. If you're doing what you like and love it, it will reach everyone around you.
robinellen
Jul. 21st, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
Very wise, Anabel :)
writertessa
Jul. 21st, 2011 03:19 am (UTC)
You're so right, Robin :) I love the blueboard but don't go there nearly as much as I used to. There is so much luck involved in the business side of the writing world but it seems like the blueboard consensus is if you do all the right things, you'll eventually get the agent, the book deal, the book tour etc.
Sending LUCK your way :)
robinellen
Jul. 21st, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, LUCK is a huge component, regardless of what so many seem to believe. *sends luck right back to you*
lorrainemt
Jul. 21st, 2011 03:36 am (UTC)
I love the way you look at things, Robin, and I so agree with everything you said. When I started homeschooling David, I had to leave behind the push for publishing part of this business, and I don't regret it for a minute. I still keep writing though!
robinellen
Jul. 21st, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
Our kiddos are so much more important -- and fulfilling :) I would have done the same thing!
olmue
Jul. 21st, 2011 03:46 am (UTC)
I'd say a lot of Blueboarders feel the same way, Robin. I think it used to be a little more true, that if you worked hard, there was a greater chance of publication. But since the economy tanked, publishing has really taken a spiral, and there are much fewer slots than there used to be. Which means a lot of fabulous writers aren't getting their books published. I admit I feel really frustrated--if only I'd managed to slide in before publishing imploded, things would be different. But they're not. (And really, if I were agented and published then, I would likely still be having difficulties what with Borders closing and publishers cancelling series from awardwinning authors, etc. Everyone is having problems now, no matter where on the spectrum you are.)

I really get what it's like to feel like you're close and then to have it not work out. The writing itself brings a lot of joy--but it's easy to feel gun shy about sending out new queries. I feel like I'm writing the best stuff I've ever written, but at the same time, I'm quite frozen when it comes to querying. Even thinking about it right now puts my stomach in knots.

Hm. Not very cheerful, and certainly no answers here. But really, I get it, Robin!
robinellen
Jul. 21st, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
Well, and it's not like I could really say this on the BBs -- it would probably discourage some people ;) But I do think it's true that those who pin their happiness and well-being on getting published are up for disappointment (perhaps), especially these days.
patesden
Jul. 21st, 2011 06:10 pm (UTC)
Wonderful post. It made me not feel so alone (I know I'm not, but sometimes the head monkeys get to me).

I think the problem with focusing on the big dream is that sometimes a person fails to see or go after other things which can be achieved as rewards along the way.

I've had a number of short stories published, but at some point I started to only write novel-length. Lately, I've been thinking that maybe a few shorts might help me feel better about my writing progress.
robinellen
Jul. 21st, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, I like this: ...things which can be achieved as rewards along the way.

Very true :) The journey holds the joy!
(Deleted comment)
robinellen
Jul. 21st, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
(((Brian!))) I've missed you...
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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