Before I get to the specifics of one of the dreams I’m making come true, I want to talk about dreams as they pertain to both writers and characters. As human beings, we all have dreams and aspirations. This is part of what makes us human. As writers, many of us have more dreams than we can count. Sure, we have dreams of becoming uber-famous published writers who can retire from our day jobs and live off the proceeds of our bestsellers.
But, we also have the kind of dreams that plague us throughout the day; dreams that comfort us like a warm blanket when we go to sleep at night, and dreams that keep our minds racing while we drive to work, while we eat a sandwich, and pretty much while we do anything. These dreams are literally the stuff of legend. These dreams are the scenes, dramas, and epics that are begging to be written and to be told from start to finish.
What’s interesting here is that there is no magic fairy dust, no faith, no religion, no lucky roll of the dice that will, on its own, make our dreams come true. The only thing standing between us and the realization of our dreams is work. That’s it. Putting one foot in front of the other, tapping one key after another. Certainly we could all use a little luck to help us along, but if we’re still sitting at home in front of a blank screen and 700 pages of unwritten manuscript remain jammed inside our head, no amount of luck will get our story published. What will get our story published, what will pull our dreams from out of reach and into the palm of our hands is nothing more than raw, hard work. Persistence and patience don’t hurt either.
A couple of years ago, I remember saying to myself that I’d never be published. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t good enough to be a published author and that my stuff sucked. My dream of being a real writer remained just that, a dream. Then I changed my dream of being a writer into a goal. I worked and I wrote. I wrote some more. Then I wrote some more. I now have over 14 computer programming books published and I’ve got a short story published in a real, actual, on-paper anthology.
Dreams are things we have that will never happen. Goals are real, tangible things we can put effort toward.
Another dream I’ve had since the day I got my driver’s license was to own a fun, sporty car. In the past I’ve just never had enough money saved up or I’ve needed to drive practical cars or minivans or whatever. As long as I kept that dream as a dream and convinced myself it would never happen, it never happened.
A couple of weeks ago, I walked into a BMW dealership and I special ordered a green BMW 328i xDrive and it will be put on a ship leaving Germany sometime next week. The combination of handling, sporty feel, comfort, reliability and style are unmatched by any of the other cars I test drove.
Instead of pining over what I didn’t have, I visualized what I wanted. I pictured myself sitting behind the wheel of the car I wanted most in the world (within reason… no amount of positive visualization is going to give me enough money to buy a Bugati Veyron :)) and I worked toward that goal. It took a lot of scrimping, saving, penny-pinching and skipping on other big-ticket purchases I might’ve made, but I made it. My dream car arrives in a few weeks and I fully expect to be driving this vehicle when my first fantasy book is published. That’s not a dream, that’s my goal and it’s a goal that I work toward every day.
So, while I may not have advice that I can impart on the step-by-step process you need to follow in order to get published, I do know a little something about making stuff happen. Want to be a published writer? Take all that time you spending wishing and write. Take the rest of your spare time and write. Take the spare time you don’t have and make it spare and take writing classes and join a writing group. Get all the guides on how to get published and how to write query letters and hone your craft. Work. Put one foot in front of the other and tap one key after the other. Don’t sit around waiting for divine intervention because your own intervention is what’s going to set things in motion.
Nothing would please me more than to see a bunch of comments on the bottom of this blog post rattling off dream after dream that you folks made come true. Dreams aren’t mythical, intangible pink unicorns. They’re goals you can make happen.
While you’re at it, make sure your characters have dreams. At the very core of a good novel is a protagonist who has dreams and an antagonist that wants to thwart them. Use the feelings you have while trying to reach your goals to make your characters and their struggles to fulfill their dreams more realistic.