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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Dream

Sometimes when I run across a bit of news about authors or the publishing industry that I find interesting, I share it with my husband. I mean, it’s not like we’re overflowing with material for conversation around here. Yesterday was just such a morning. I told him about the comments I’d read over on Bookends regarding royalties. In case you want to read, the eye-opening information isn’t contained in the post itself, but in the comments section, where authors have weighed in with their personal experiences. Anyway, sharing this with hubby was a mistake. I should know by now not to tell him anything that reflects negatively on writing or the quest for publication. Why? Because his response was, “So, what’s the point in trying?” Meaning: so why even waste your time trying to write something publishable and then try to get it published?

I realize he gets tired of the house not being as tidy as it maybe should be. Not to mention hastily thrown-together meals on those days when I’m stressed because the writing isn’t going well. Or when it is going well and I write most of the day and let everything else around here go begging. In his perfect world, I would meet him at the door with a smile, the mail, and a cup of coffee in hand and tell him supper is on the table and he can eat just as soon as he’s ready. Our ideas of a perfect world don’t often mesh.

Don’t get me wrong. He’s always been supportive, in that he allows me the space to let things go longer than they should so I can sit here at the computer and pursue my dream.

I wonder if it would have been better to leave him in the dark about the industry and the reality. All these years I’ve been telling him the truth, and sometimes he turns that knowledge against me. Maybe it would have been better to let him think that if I get published with one of the big houses, we’d be rolling in money and our worries would be over. Because that’s what most people in the general public think, you know. That when you get published, money is thrown at you by the handfuls. That’s the image that’s been perpetuated by the popular media, in movies mostly, and sometimes on tv. Ha. If they only knew.

The thing is, hubby doesn’t like to see me stressed. He doesn’t like to see me sit here for endless hours in my robe with the blinds closed, cave-like, while the sun is shining outside. He doesn’t like to see me knock myself out year after year, doing something that may never reap any reward. He thinks I’d be happier if I lived my life like a so-called normal person. But what about those days when I’m on top of the world because a scene or chapter has fallen perfectly from my fingertips to the page? What about the incomparable high of a project completed, of seeing my words in print? What about the notes from readers that make me feel I may just be worth something after all? Doesn’t all that count for anything?

Anyway. Yesterday, I spent several hours feeling sad because I knew hubby would be happier if I gave up writing altogether. Part of me wishes I could oblige him, but I’ve tried it before—giving up, that is. It didn’t work out. Not for me, anyway. Writing is the one thing I have that is all mine. It’s the dream I strive for, keep reaching for. Without dreams, there is only grim reality and the daily tedium of keeping up with the house and the family’s needs. I have needs, too, and I’ve reached the age where I’m just selfish enough to try and fulfill them. No one, not my husband or my children, can give me everything I need to make me truly happy. Only I can do that. This realization came only after many years of struggle. There was a time when I had to fight for my right to pursue my dream. Eventually, I won ground, and I don't see any reason to give it up again.



  1. Devon, against my better judgment, cuz I get bummed out about this kind of stuff sometimes, I read part of the Bookends post and most of the comments. Yep, pretty grim.

    But you know what? We're writers! We're published writers! Some days that in itself is the most amazing thing. How cool to have achieved this goal...this dream.

    Now, the other dream, the money one--we're not there. Doesn't mean we won't get there, but what a non-writer cannot understand, I think, is what a high we get just from the process. And Omigosh! The first time I held a paperback with my name on it!

    Similar conversations have taken place at my kitchen table. I have GOT to learn not to do that. It's a loser every time.

    Would my family be happier if I gave up writing? I don't think so, because I would be so unhappy, it would surely infect the whole place.

    Even Spot knows to leave me alone with I'm in my zone. ;)

  2. Devon, like you, I refuse to give up the dream. I gave up my writing once...not intentionally but because of a new job that was kicking my ass...and I've regretted it ever since. No more. Live the dream and yeah, sometimes that means sitting around in our jammies with a two-day old shower behind us and never seeing the light of day (yes, Jan, I am going to take that walk). However--it is what we do, who we are, and how we are made. Hubbies either get over it or get out. Hmmmm... I'm not married, what does that say? Anyway, I do subscribe to the belief that there are somethings best to leave hubbies in the dark about.

    Okay, since I've managed to leave three hubbies behind in the dust, perhaps I am not the one to give this advice. LOL

    Still, I'm writing and I'm happy!

    (no, I'm not saying to leave your hubby behind in the dust!)

  3. Devon, you know the answer. You said it in your blog. You are a writer and writers write. If you need to talk writing, talk to one of us!

    I remember another now multi-published author whose husband was not supportive of her writing. When she finally sold and made enough money at it so that he could join a country club, he shut up. At least that's how the story goes.

    If humans didn't have the dream, what would life mean?

  4. Magdalena, Maddie, Jan. Dear ladies, thank you for coming to offer support. Sometimes, I don't know what I'd do without you.

    I probably shouldn't have posted this and just let it pass. He's not asking to me to quit. Wouldn't do any good if he did, and he knows that. I quit once and I was miserable. I think the problem is all the negative info. I need to knock off telling him stuff. Also, how many years have I been at this? Like most men, he thinks there should be something to show for it by now. And like most people, he doesn't have a clue about why I'm driven to keep doing it. No one, except another writer, can understand why we keep at it year after year, especially if there's almost nothing to show for it, as in my case. I really shouldn't complain because he's given me the tools and the opportunity to pursue my writing. He was as excited as I was when I got published. I think it's everything that happened afterward that kinda makes him wonder why I would want to keep at it. But it'll be okay. And Jan, I think you're right. If I could snag a decent advance, I'm sure a lot of attitudes around here would change pretty darned quick. ;o)

  5. Devon,
    I know I'm not going to make a lot of money writing, and I've already warned hubby that the money isn't great, if you make any at all. But he still supports me. I've stopped telling other people I'm writing, because they do the 'oh, isn't that nice. Anyway...' thing. And it hurts. So I've decided that other than the people that already know, I'm not telling anyone that I write until I'm published. And I will be published!
    Take heart. Do what feeds your soul.

  6. Jennifer, you've got a healthy attitude. Wanta hear something funny? Except for family and a very few others, no one around here knows I write even AFTER I got published. None of my neighbors have a clue. I know what you mean about attitudes. Except for the things I share with hubby, I've learned not to talk about writing, except with you writer pals.


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