Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net
Holly Lisle's Vision

Taking the Dream Seriously

By Jennifer St. Clair Bush

2002, By Jennifer St. Clair Bush

On November 18, 1987, I decided to become a writer. This decision was not made lightly; my best friend had informed me during Mrs. Wenzel's reading class that she was in the middle of writing a romance novel. Not to be outdone, I immediately decided that I, too, could be a writer.  So, over the next eleven days, I wrote a novel based on my favorite TV show at the time (Beauty & The Beast). From then on, writing full time was my goal, my dream, and my utmost hope. 

Unfortunately, not many others saw it the same way. In the ensuing years, I was ridiculed, told I would never succeed, and laughed at for daring to think I had a chance of success. 

I also had very understanding parents who mostly looked the other way when my room was a mess, supported me in ways they do not know, and actually got excited when I first started showing small signs of success. 

Even though I've been actively writing for fourteen years, I never trusted myself to take the dream of writing full-time seriously enough to believe I could succeed. Oh, I pretended to well enough to convince just about everyone, but I never actually admitted to myself that I might have a chance of success. My dream was a dream destined for failure because I couldn't get up enough courage to even try to make it reality.

It was only after I started to participate fully in Forward Motion that I discovered kindred spirits (you know who you are) who have been not only supportive, but also understanding in a way non-writers can never be. 

When I joined Forward Motion, I had just come from a horrible experience in which my then-WIP had been completely crushed under the weight of poor critiquers. My faith in myself had been shaken, and I did not know which way to turn. 

And then I "met" Holly, a real live author who not only took time out of her busy schedule to talk to struggling writers, but also wrote a book, Mugging the Muse, that had me in tears by the time I finished it. And slowly, with the help of the wonderful people here, I repaired my wings and decided to try to fly again. 

Last January, I posted the following (writing-related) New Year's Resolutions to the Discussion Board: 

1.        Get Organized

I will be the first person to admit that I'm not organized yet. I'm getting better, but I'm not quite there yet. So, that one's going to go back on my list for next year. 

2.        Publish or sign a publishing contract for one book

At the time of writing this article, I've signed seven book contracts for four books. One of the publishers went under, and another ran into printer problems, but three out of four of the books have current contracts. One has been published. And the year's not quite over yet. 

3.        Write Every Day (and keep track or words/pages)

The Daily Page Count Board has really helped me keep track of things for the first time in fourteen years. I recently went through all my posts and added up my yearly count. Currently, it stands right around 430,000 words. My unofficial daily goal was to write 1000 words a day. At current count, I'm standing at 1272 words per day and I know I took time off here and there. (Of course I am nowhere near Zette in word count, but there's always next year.) I participated in the 3-day Novel Contest in September, and the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. I finished six novels, one novella, and one short story. By the end of the year, my finished novel count will be up to seven. That's more than one every other month! 

Overall, I have to say that my very first year of taking my dream seriously has been a success. I've learned a lot, realized quite a bit about myself, and intend to continue to work on the things that can be improved.  

Sometimes, when you believe in a dream enough to take it seriously, amazing things can happen. And while the road I'm on might be a bit rocky, I'm willing to take a detour or two and enjoy the scenery along the way.