I believe we should all chase our dreams. But, I’ve come to believe that when your dreams start chasing you, it’s time to stop running.
Most of my life I dreamed of being a published author. I’d long had articles regularly published in suburban newspapers ringing Memphis, Tennessee, where I worked the better part of 20 years as a reporter. But I desperately wanted to write mysteries.
So over the years, while still working at newspapers, I did. I wrote desperately bad mysteries that no respectable agent would touch, even with gloves on. Off and on over a decade, I wrote and shopped pitiable manuscripts. I queried scores of agents and amassed rejections in self-addressed, stamped envelopes. But, over time my writing and plotting improved.
Six years or so ago, I started querying the Liv & Di manuscript. I got a phone call from an agent I admired – and an offer. Next came a deal with a publisher, a contract, and an editor. I felt like I’d been thrown into the deep end of the publishing pool without much idea what I was doing. I was excited — and scared, but mostly I loved it!
After fulfilling my three-book contract with Kensington, they picked up Liv & Di for a fourth book. After that, they dropped the series. I was already working on a new series, which found a home for at least three books (I thought!) with a well-respected boutique publisher. The Café Cinema series was dropped after just one book, and I found my series orphaned, along with about 40 other authors who were in the same sinking boat with me.
Since then, I’ve put together three series proposals that my agent shopped. One got unceremoniously turned down by everyone. One garnered an offer that I turned down. And one editor loved the characters and the set-up on the proposal, but not so much the writing. I was offered the chance to do a major revision. The series was based on a concept from the editor. I wasn’t sure she knew what she wanted; I didn’t. So I declined doing the rewrite. I tortured myself over that decision for a while, since it was a big publisher.
Still, in the five years since my first book was published. I’ve had five books published, so I wasn’t really depressed about the state of things. Just confused about what to do next. This is where my darling husband stepped in. “Vickie, you’re not under contract for anything. Why don’t you write that book you’ve been talking about for the past couple of years. You light up whenever you talk about it.”
The statement about me lighting up when I talked about it struck a chord. It was the same thing my psychologist had said to me. “You have a certain excitement when you talk about writing projects, but you really light up when you talk about that one.”
So I started on an outline for “that” book, which is different from anything I’ve written previously. Actually, I already had a file full of bits and pieces of plot and dialogue I’d been squirreling away for at least two years. I tried starting the story with four different openings and was struggling a bit with point of view. Then some medical stuff hijacked my time and attention. (No worries, I’m much better now).
So I’ve done zip on the manuscript for months. My husband has been encouraging me to start writing something, anything for the state of my mental health —and his. (I get sullen and cranky when I don’t write). Then, lately, I started dreaming about the book. I’ve had dreams before in which my characters have appeared, but never dreams which were actually helpful. But recently, I’ve had two separate dreams in which pieces of the plot and a troublesome character started revealing themselves to me!
Don’t get me wrong, I still have LOTS to work out to finish this book. And it’s not under contract, so I have no guarantees it will ever sell. But after pursuing my dreams for so long, it now feels like my dreams are pursuing me! It’s a great feeling, and it has me ready and excited to get busy writing again. (Note to Chicks: Be prepared to receive texts about doing writing sprints!)
Have you ever woke up and felt that a dream in the night was relaying a message to you? Share in comments.