Month: December 2012

Pursuing one’s dreams publicly vs. privately

This post started out going one way, but then it lingered half-finished for over a month. A few days ago, a friend posed a question on Twitter that got me thinking about the subject again, and this time a bit differently…

Part 1: The cart or the horse

Someone once asked me why I decided to tell people about my writing before I got published. The truth is, I didn’t make a conscious decision about it. My love of writing developed when I was 9 years old. At that age, if someone asks what you want to do when you grow up, you simply answer.

You don’t worry about the questions. The pressure. The tallying of successes and failures along the way. How’s the writing going? Do you have a publisher? When can I read/buy your book?

Now, though, now I know. Now I understand why someone might keep their dreams quiet until they come true — or in case they don’t. Now I feel the scrutiny, whether real or imagined, or maybe a bit of both. Now I worry about the supposed metrics that I may or may not be living up to.

And recently, for the first time, I’ve begun to wonder (with a hint of longing) what it would be like if no one knew about my dreams at all.

Part 2: What it would be like

In my fantasies, it’s peaceful. I pursue my writing in quiet, unworried solitude. No one is watching and waiting. No one is adding to my own patience. Or criticism. Or expectations. Or disappointment. I take my time, make my manuscript perfect, submit it to agents without having to tell anyone about rejections, and eventually get a huge book deal that validates all my secret efforts.

Part 3: The Twitter question

“Do any of you writers have unsupportive families? How do you deal with it?”

Part 4: What it would really be like

On the other hand, if no one knew, then no one could support me. No one would have supported me. My teachers wouldn’t have encouraged me to enter competitions. My friends wouldn’t have begged me to write them stories. My parents wouldn’t have cheered me on every step of the way.

I’d be working not just in solitude, but alone.

Part 5: Perspective

That Twitter inquiry wasn’t about non-supportive families — i.e., ones that either don’t know about your dreams or are indifferent to them — but about truly un-supportive families. Ones who disapprove. Ones who are against your dreams.

I tried to offer my friend some useful advice to her dilemma, but mostly I tried to offer my empathy. This path is emotionally taxing enough without having to endure the opposition of those closest to you.

And that was when the light bulb went off in my head.

Yeah, it’s annoying to feel scrutinized, maybe even judged. But those watchful eyes are the price I pay for all the helping hands that I depend on. And in the scheme of things, that’s a relatively small price.

In the end, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to handle this issue of publicly vs. privately pursing one’s dreams. Each person has to work out what’s most comfortable for them, what’s going to best help them achieve their goals.

But for me personally, it’s impossible to imagine getting this far — not to mention continuing onward into the unknown — without the love and faith of my friends and family carrying me forward.

(Thanks, guys.)

Let things pass


30 days, 30 tweets: wisdom for writers

This post is going to look massively long already — but most of it is white space! — so I’ll try to keep the intro short.

The Secret Miracle: The Novelist's HandbookA couple years ago, Meghan Ward gave me the book THE SECRET MIRACLE, a sort of mass-interview of 60 or so authors. Basically, editor Daniel Alarcón asked a bunch of questions about the process of writing and then organized the answers into a “handbook” for novelists. My copy is riddled with Post-It flags, as if they’re some kind of disease. Honestly, the first part (about reading habits) is a little boring — hence why it took me 2 years to get past it — but once the questions got into the meat of the authors’ thoughts and habits on writing, I couldn’t stop underlining.

While I prefer not to participate in NaNoWriMo, I applaud and encourage those who do, and this year, I thought maybe I could share some of the wisdom from THE SECRET MIRACLE with them via Twitter. Like someone cheering on marathon runners from the sideline, you know?

Not all of my favorite quotes applied, nor would all of them fit in 140 characters, but here is a compilation of the ones that I managed to share:

November in photos

sailing 028
upload Thanks, Melting Pot!
upload Tiny snowballs.
Rochester Thanksgiving 062
Morning run. upload
Fitz to Stevie, resulted in a long run. upload
upload upload
Rochester Thanksgiving 027

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