Making Dreams into Reality
By Jennifer St. Clair Bush
©2001, Jennifer St. Clair Bush
Issue # 3: 04/01/01
A Theory of Alternate History
The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get ride of it. He has no peace until then.
William Faulkner, Interview 1957
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
my surprise when less than a month later I received in my inbox this:
I am pleased to inform you that The Fiction Works would like to offer a contract for print rights for your novel, SECOND COMING.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 http://www.eclectics.com/epic/index.html).
I sent The Tenth Ghost to Bookmice.com.
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
days later, while in chat, I received this in my inbox:
Thank you for submitting your manuscript for evaluation by Bookmice.com and/or McGraw Publishing. I have read enough to tell you we would be delighted to accept it for publication.
of you who were there can well attest my absolute mind-numbing shock.
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!"
is true. Granted, I haven't made millions or anything on either of them,
but you know what? That's not the point.
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.
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.
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.
never give up.