Of movies. Of sleep. Of thunderstorms. Of the river in winter, swollen, waiting to suck little children beneath the ice.
She got older.
Her fears grew more complex. She began to doubt she would ever have friends; she realized people could change, and she couldn’t stop them; she feared depression, loneliness, inadequacy. She wondered if her writing would ever be Good Enough.
She got even a little older. She won contests. She got articles published. She wrote and read and learned about the publishing industry and wrote; she went to school, gained confidence, got some attention, discovered you could have more than one dream, discovered you could pursue them all. She kept writing.
She stopped being afraid publication would never happen and began to cherish those daily routines, the seasons and cycles that made up life, the romances and lessons learned afterward, the moving away, moving back. She learned to enjoy things as they were. She fine-tuned the dream. Despite all her fears, it seemed she was turning out mostly OK.
Also, she interviewed debut authors.
She watched (but did not participate in; smart girl) the rise and rise and fame and fallout of Twilight. She watched the rise of Alyson Noel. She watched The Hunger Games happen; she watched the end of the Harry Potter books, and saw J.K Rowling step down; she watched Chris Paolini's ascension. Maggie Stiefvater. Kristin Cashore. Lauren Oliver. Beth Revis. Laini Taylor. Veronica Roth…
Rising and falling, rising and falling, some making it. Some just barely treading water. Some of them were just beginning, and she crossed her fingers, and hoped.
They were living the dream, she thought. But if they were living the dream, why, for so many of them--particularly those biggest hitters Meyer and Rowling--did the dream seem to kill them?
The world of publishing is like a happy dog who, in midlife, gets stuck with the new puppy. It's grumpy. It has to share. It rolls over, loses a few bones, growls, goes back to sleep. It learns to adapt.
Writers adapt. They write trilogies whether or not the story deserves it. They write love-triangles that leave nobody happy. Writers get shuffled back to the midlist and off Barnes & Noble shelves. They are forgotten. They write some amazing breakouts; they struggle not to drown in the waves of ensuing fame. On their blogs they cry, "I'm so sorry, I've been so busy. I'm trying. I'll be better. Sorry. Thanks."
She looks at them. She looks at her little writing dream.
She wants, very simply, to write. To get published, stay published. To have the mild success that allows her to keep playing, keep exploring, to become a name, not an icon. Just write and sell books and be happy.
She never wants to write a cliffhanger ending just so people will buy the sequel. She never wants to become so famous in one trilogy that the fame of it crushes her. She never wants to get pinned into just the fantasy genre, just the paranormal romance genre. She wants...she wants...
She wants to write the books that she loves to read. Books like Graceling and The Hunger Games and first Twilight and the very first Harry Potter and If I Stay; Shiver and Lament, the first Artemis Fowl, Warped, Blackbringer, Brightly Woven.
Books that were good because they were good, not because the series was famous, or because someone played tricks.
But she’s not sure anymore. She doubts. She fears.
Maybe it’s not possible, this little writing dream of hers. She fears she'll have to change. That her beloved writing will get stuffed into a niche, or lost in the midlist; she's afraid of plummeting, afraid of fame, afraid of becoming someone who only publishes once every six years, afraid...
This goes on until she reads a book.
A new book. An unknown. A rising star.
It is brilliant, breathtaking; it shatters genres, it defies stereotypes. It uses funky paragraph breaks like Across the Universe, it’s a 400 page debut like Before I Fall, a crossover with descriptions like...
These are the books that make their own waves. They shouldn’t work. But they do. These are the books that stand up and say, "I am something special. I am not a gimmick. Read me, and I'll prove it."
So everyone reads them. And they are awesome. The writers are dedicated. The quality, stunning. They don't "get away with it", because there's nothing to get away with--it is something new, something invented. By them.
It can be done.
Slowly, she puts the book down. Raises her chin. Turns to her laptop.
It can be done.
Take heart, my writer friends! Don't be afraid :)
Truly and always,