Making Dreams into Reality

Making Dreams into Reality

By Jennifer St. Clair Bush 

©2001, Jennifer St. Clair Bush 

Ever since I was thirteen years old, my goal in life has been to be a full-time writer. Over the years, as I stubbornly held onto this goal, I would sometimes get sidetracked by other things (as life sidetracks us all). But in essence the Dream remained whole: an untouched, impossible star too high up in the sky for me to reach.

I'm a fairly pessimistic person, you see. In my heart of hearts I deeply believed that I would not ever get a book published; that my Dream would remain a Dream for the rest of my life and I would fail.

But I wrote and wrote and wrote, and told everyone about my Dream. I got some really good advice from certain favorite authors of mine (among them our own Holly Lisle), and tried to take their words to heart. 'Never give up' was the most oft-repeated phrase, and I stuck it over the doubts brewing in my heart and tried to pretend they didn't exist.

It worked to a point, but when Real Life intruded and I couldn't pay the bills because my husband and I didn't make enough money, or something else went wrong, those doubts crushed the 'Never Give Up' pledge to dust and danced for joy inside of my mind.

But I still wrote, almost every day. I let writing be my balm against the world, my sanity, I suppose. I even managed to get a couple short stories published, which dispelled the doubts for a little while. But my life wasn't going very well, my job wasn't going very well, and I had no luck finding a new one. But I still wrote.

After almost a year of not finishing anything, I completed a rather difficult novel . I made a couple New Year's Resolutions--one of them to have a book contract by the end of the year -- and I sent Second Coming out at the end of January.

Imagine my surprise when less than a month later I received in my inbox this:

Dear Jennifer,

I am pleased to inform you that The Fiction Works would like to offer a contract for print rights for your novel, SECOND COMING.

I thought it had to be a mistake. I'd just started rereading the book and I had found so many mistakes that I'd missed the first time around that I was embarrassed to have let it seen the light of day, especially since I had sent it to a publisher.

I reread the email. I started to smile. Then I started to cry. By the time I called my mom at work, I was blubbering too hard for her to figure out what I was trying to say.

See, deep down in my heart, I've always believed that I would never get a book published. That I wasn't good enough. That the teachers and everyone who told me I would never succeed had been right.

Well, they were wrong. For about a week after that (after disappointing my little sister Jessica who really wanted to hear that I was pregnant), I walked around in a daze, grinning occasionally for no reason at all. I kept having to remind myself that I could no longer say When I publish a book, but Now that I have published a book. I couldn't quite fit my mind around the fact that someone wanted to buy something I had written.

And then I started to get doubts again. What if this would be the only book I ever published? What if no one liked it? What if it was a complete and utter flop?

So I retaliated by sending out the YA fantasy I wrote during the January/February Writing Dare to an e-publisher. I thought The Tenth Ghost would make a great e-book, and I wanted to be a member of EPIC (The Electronically Published Internet Connection

So I sent The Tenth Ghost to About a week later, I received a note that they were running late and it might be a little while before they could read my submission. So I pretty much forgot about it for a week and concentrated on editing Second Coming.

Five days later, while in chat, I received this in my inbox:

Thank you for submitting your manuscript for evaluation by and/or McGraw Publishing. I have read enough to tell you we would be delighted to accept it for publication.

Those of you who were there can well attest my absolute mind-numbing shock.

This time, when I called my Mom to tell her, she refused to guess what my good news was (I think my sister infected her). When I told her I had sold another book, she said, "Struggling authors don't sell two books in a month!"

Which is true. Granted, I haven't made millions or anything on either of them, but you know what? That's not the point.

The point is, I have a Dream. It's a dream shared by many people here in the Forward Motion Writers' Community--to write full-time. To be able to support myself by doing what I love.

A lot of people have Dreams, but they abandon them when the going gets tough, or when their Dream doesn't end up the way they expected. Many people are so afraid that they will fail in their Dreams that they don't even make that first attempt. And still others let the doubts destroy their Dreams.

I'm here to pass on some advice. If you have a Dream like mine, and it seems too far into the future to ever reach, remember to believe in yourself. That comes first. After belief, have faith in your Dream. Have faith that you can make it happen.