Lately I've been thinking a lot about dreams and ambitions. Mostly because right now I'm trying very hard to make one of mine come true.
It's a dream I've wanted in one form or another my whole life. It's a dream I've tried to achieve before… and failed.
But here I am again, brushing off the dirt from my ego, and running full tilt at that beautiful windmill once again. Because that's the thing about dreams: they're immortal.
If a dream dies, was it ever really a dream in the first place? We all have wants, needs, goals–many of them–but dreams are special. You only get a few in a lifetime.
A need or want can satisfy a temporary longing, but every part of you yearns for a dream. Everything you do is a reflection of how hard you are willing to work for making it come true.
Yup, this dream stuff is VERY serious business.
Nobody can hand you your dream. It's something you need to work for.
Yes, a dream is a wish your heart makes and all that. We all know how Disney princesses set their hearts on a better life and then–bam–there it is! But there is always strife. There are always obstacles to overcome. Whether it's a clock ticking steadily toward midnight, a poisoned apple, or the call of the sea, something always stands in the way.
Because dreams are huge, life-changing, and part of the reason they're so special is because how hard they can be to obtain.
Take my dream, for instance.
I want to be a USA Today bestselling author. I've wanted it since I first learned how to read.
“I want to do that,” little me thought. “I want to spark imagination, touch hearts, and soothe souls with my words. I want to tell stories, to make a difference, to live a creative life.”
When I was young, I wrote and illustrated children's stories for my little brothers. I wrote short stories throughout my school years and had many stops and starts of novels on my favorite floppy disk. I wrote my first full book in 2010, and every day since then has been spent in pursuit of my author dream.
Writing, spreading the word about my writing, helping others who want to write, thinking about writing… living, breathing, being that dream.
But in these past 8 years since I finished that first novel and these past 32+ years since I was born a writer, something has always gotten in the way of being able to tell my stories full-time.
It takes a tremendous amount of faith to devote hours, days, weeks to creating a story not knowing if it will sell even a single copy. Most readers also don't realize that it costs authors money to get their books out there! Yes, those of us who are in the indie world pay for editing, design, marketing… you name it. Even traditionally published authors often end up picking up a pretty penny of costs by the time their books get out there.
But we write–I write–faithfully on, not knowing whether we'll even earn back the monetary investment, let alone the time investment, it takes to do our stories justice.
It's so easy to make excuses. Because striving for your dreams? It feels incredibly selfish sometimes.
Thoughts like: Who am I to achieve this huge thing? So many have failed, what makes me think I'm so different?
And: Why am I spending valuable working hours on a hobby, when I could be earning money to support my family?
… they are always in the back of mind. But we silence them for long enough to write our stories anyway.
I know what you're thinking now: “But, Melissa, you already write for a living! You've published so many books! Don't you think you've made it already?”
And the answer is yes and no. Yes, this past year, I've seen a huge increase in my readership. I've seen my book sales soar way beyond what they've been for the past several years, and I've conversed with some truly special people who have let my stories into their hearts.
In that way, I am successful. Unquestionably.
But this is not what I do for a living. See, something has to give, and for me that's been my health (especially my weight) and any semblance of leisure time.
I work 10 hours per day, 7 days per week. And most of that time isn't spent writing. It's spent tending to my businesses, designing websites for clients, running giveaways for readers, and finding other ways to make money, so I can continue to write.
I love my life, but I'd like to be able to live it a little more than I have been.
I'd like to be able to take a day–or even a whole weekend!–off. I'd like to be able to take my little girl on vacation or just decide to play hooky for the day and go exploring. But so far, I'm not there.
To keep writing, I have to keep hustling to make sure I have time to devote to the career that pays the bills as well as the career of my heart.
Dreams don't die. In a way, they are never fully achieved either. There's always something new to strive for.
This week I'm hoping–and working very hard–to make the USA Today bestseller's list with my new book, LET THERE BE LOVE.
Will making the list single-handedly change my entire life? Probably not.
But it's a giant leap in the right direction. It means I'm finding more readers, touching more lives, and -yes- increasing my writing income, so I can do more writing, less hustling, and maybe even find some time to relax.
Thank you for sharing that dream with me. If you feel so inclined, I would really appreciate your support. You can get my brand new book for just 99 cents–and I hope you will!
Happy reading, happy dreaming, and happy living,