Have you ever had a dream for so long that you can’t remember a time when you weren’t wishing for it to come true? Where it reaches a point that, since you can’t remember never wanting that dream, that sometimes, you forget what exactly it is that you really want?
It’s not a surprise that I really want to an author, with my books out in the world and published, homed on the shelves of your local bookstore.
But what does that look like, exactly?
In my mind, it looks a little something like this:
If my dream came true, I’d know what it feels like to experience not only a request for a full manuscript, but also the infamous “Call” from an agent offering representation, where we squee about my book and our shared vision for it, and then I promptly go make a plethora of other phone calls to my parents and my siblings, best friends and my man, probably a crying mess of emotions, telling them that I’ve found my advocate, my partner in crime, who has the means and the methods to make my dream finally come true, and together, we’re going to make it happen.
I’d also eat a lot of celebratory ice cream.
I’d know work; hard work. I’d meet other individuals who believed in my book, like editors and publishing houses, who’d instruct me how to make my book reach that next level required before publication and I’d go back to the editing board. Again, as many times as necessary. I’d experience working under a deadline, sending frantic emails to my agent at 3am and then texting them the next morning and apologizing for my freakout, but could they please tell me that latest scene that’s been plaguing me since day one is finally there?
I’d know waiting. Waiting for my agent to read my manuscript and offer feedback. Waiting for editors and publishing reps to respond, after my manuscript is finally ready and sent out into the publishing world, hoping to be snatched up. I’d know rejection, when we have to cross a hopeful house off the list–potentially all of them, forcing me to go back to the drawing board. I’d know elation–alongside more tears and more ice cream–when a deal has been made between my agent and a publishing house, and my dream really becomes a reality, when a publication date is set. I’d know excitement, as I have to keep that news under wraps for weeks, if not longer, before it can be announced. I’d learn about every step in the process, taking a book from manuscript to print, and I’d make a lot of friends along the way.
Then, it will all be a whirlwind that takes ages to complete, but hopefully I don’t focus on the wait too much, because I’m too busy working on the next book, building my platform and meeting my agent in person for the first time to spend staring at a calendar, counting down to my book’s birthday (though we all know that’s going to happen anyway). My book will debut and I’ll get to do my first ever book signing, full of awkwardness, sweaty palms and blushing red nerves on my part (plus, a really shite signature). I’ll go on a book tour. I’ll be torn between looking up reviews on Goodreads and avoiding them like the plague. I’ll stay up late at night, crying both tears of happiness and tears of pain, when readers both love and hate my book.
I’ll keep writing.
I’ll no longer be a debut author. Now, working under deadlines and dealing with contracts will become more familiar than foreign. Maybe I’ll make enough to quit my day job so I can work part-time at something I really love, instead. I’ll get chances to meet agents, editors, authors and industry professionals I’ve always admired and, hopefully, turn some of those idols into friends. I’ll randomly sign books whenever I go to a bookstore and fill up my Instagram with too many shots of the same cover that I probably collapsed on the ground and cried over, when I first saw it and held my ARC copies of my own book in my hands. I’ll start speaking at book shops, after getting established, talking with readers and aspiring authors about my own journey, desperate to hear about theirs and hopefully, ideally, inspire them to go forward and write the next book that I obsess over.
There’ll be fanmail, both with love and hate. When fan art appears, that’s when I’ll truly know I’ve made it (please, ship all my characters). Selling foreign or cinematic rights to any of my works would be incredible and beyond the scope of what I could imagine possible.
Yet, at the end of the day, I’d be doing the same thing I’ve been doing since before I can really remember: sitting down and writing word after word, attempting to tell the stories that somehow snuck into my head coherently onto paper.
But instead of hoping people will one day read them, I’ll look at my bookshelf, see an actual, physical copies of books I wrote sitting there, beside all my favorites; and I’ll know, that if I keep on putting in the work, readers can, and will, continue to read my stories.
PS: I just started revising the book (again) that I hope kicks off making this dream–every element of this dream, the good, the difficult, the surreal and the challenging–a reality. It’s been a struggle, so I just needed to remind myself the life I hope to live, one day. My stories will continue to get written, no matter if this dream comes true or not. But, for me, I want to do more than dare to dream this dream will become a reality.
I’m going to work to make it so.