At nearly every book fair, festival, signing and event I go to, I run into someone who is working on their first novel. It’s very exciting for them – and for me, because I remember what it’s like to be writing and hoping, excited but overwhelmed by this new venture. Plenty of people rolled their eyes when I told them I was writing a book and I want to be encouraging and positive. I’m living proof that people write and sell their books. Of course, Kim Kardashian is living proof that you can make a lot more money doing less… but I digress.
Within a minute of talking to these as-yet-unpublished authors, I realize that the man or woman I’m talking to falls into one of two camps – the person for whom this is a goal and the person for whom this is a fantasy.
In the goal camp, folks want to hear the truth. They want to know about character development, moving the plot forward, writing schedules, networking…. they are starting a new business and want as much information as possible so they can avoid some of the (many) mistakes I have made.
In the fantasy camp are the people who don’t really want to write a novel. They want to have written one. It sounds cool to be an author. They plan release parties, fantasize about their name on the NY Times Bestseller list, write their Edgar Award speech, and price vacation homes in Aruba. But they don’t write. At least not consistently. And they rarely get to THE END in their books.
As much as I prefer to help the first group, I have to admit I understand the second completely. I too have my “would like to have done” list. I would like to have climbed Kilimanjaro. I would like to have become fluent in another language. I would like to have become a gourmet cook. But will I? Probably not. Because I’m not willing to put the effort in. At the moment anyway those things are fantasies… very different from the goals I have for myself: visiting at least two countries a year, running a 5K in September with my sister-in-law, and finishing all my unfinished quilt projects.
I realize how easy it is to fool yourself into thinking that you’re planning a future when all you’re really doing is daydreaming about one – like the person who pledges to lose weight and then dines on a burger and chocolate cake (That person is me). So I’m trying to be real about my goals, and to let go of those things that aren’t really goals, they’re just fantasies in disguise.
So – what do you really want to do, and what would you like to have done?