“Dreams are goals I haven’t yet managed to reach.”
During the course of my writing journey, I’ve actually considered stamping those words on my forehead. Doubt does terrible things to the dark hollows of the mind.
My dream has always been to sell my stories. Yes, I admit a gnawing hunger for monetary success and publication but my goal has always been to deliver pleasure to the reader.
Last year, I asked myself the question: “How much do you really want to write? Is your desire strong enough to cut working hours and slash the weekly budget?” The answer was yes. I could manage skipping dinner and movies with friends and had no problem wearing recycled clothes.
I was lucky to have my husband backing my dream and so I took to the road. With the wind in my hair, I leapt on the bike, buckled my helmet and cruised along the highway that was my writing journey. Gripping the handlebars, I kept my eyes fixed on the artery of tarmac ahead. I would have to play this journey by ear – I didn’t own a GPS or a map for the Writers’ College Short Story Writing Course. I rode on, shut out negative comments and looked for the next signpost.
I dreamt of being a writer as a child. I envisaged that writing was easy – endless days of sunshine, roses and a strong tail wind to carry me home. The reality was numbing rain, hairpin bends and unrelenting hills. After handing in my first assignment, I realised weak plots were not going to get my work published. Several nights later, somewhere near the wrong side of midnight, it occurred to me my Writing Course was going to be harder than I expected.
Ahead lay a boulevard of black bitumen, with adrenaline racing through my veins, I swung across the centre line, took a left hand turn and my dreams inched closer to becoming reality – my first story was published. I didn’t care the magazine didn’t pay.
Writing is not always sitting in front of a computer and tapping out a small piece of magic. Sadly, the art doesn’t always come naturally. The journey is a constant process of learning, improving, receiving and accepting feedback, discarding what doesn’t work and trying again. I gave the two “F’’ words – Fear and Failure the elbow some time ago and I made a conscious decision to replace them with perseverance and determination.
Today, the thought of stopping this writing habit scares me. I don’t want to go back in time or make a U-turn. Before I committed myself to the task of becoming a writer, I was fed up with the mundane in my life. I seemed to spend hours completing pointless tasks that weren’t appreciated by me or others. Nowadays, I smell the roses and leave the oven cleaning for another day. Completing my latest story has become my number one priority.
For the present, I intend to stay in the saddle and focus on the road ahead; the brakes are definitely off. I believe I can achieve whatever task I set my mind to and those positive feelings allow me to squeeze as much creativity out of every day as possible.
Accepting rejection has taken time, but I have learnt to move forward. I don’t allow rejection to stifle my writing efforts and refuse to retire to the bedroom and sulk. Every writer understands it is essential to stoke the engine with chocolate, cheese and perhaps the occasional bottle of good red wine.
Whenever a rejection email hits my inbox, I pull on a thick skin and imagine myself as a smaller version of Dumbo. The toys stay in the cot and I give myself a couple of days slack before I send out my story again. I tell myself, it’s a matter of timing – getting my manuscript to the right person at the right time will bring success.
So when do you quit writing? The hard part is actively making that decision NOT to quit after the 10th, 50th or 100th rejection.
Writing invokes a hodgepodge of feelings. On any given day, these feelings range from euphoria to doubt, depression and frustration. No matter how hard the process of writing is, for me, “no” is not an option. It is an obstacle and the Dumbos of this world refuse to be defined by obstacles.
I guess I will quit when I find another dream that means more to me. But today – I have a tailwind and the sky is clear. I’m on the road now and I’m not stopping for passengers.
ABOUT THE WRITERS’ COLLEGE
(NZ Writers’ College, SA Writers’ College, UK Writers’ College)
We are an online writing school with three country-specific branches offering 29 specialist online writing courses run by multi-award-winning authors, journalists, scriptwriters, poets and copywriters. From journalism to creative writing courses to writing for the web, our courses offer one-to-one tuition at an affordable cost.
Our tutors have collectively accumulated more than 40 international writing awards, including many Qantas Awards, several Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes, four Emmy Awards, the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, ATKV Awards, the Caine Prize for African Writing, the Pen/HSBC Awards, the Sir David Beatie Award, the George Foster Peabody Award and the Reed Fiction Award.
We offer no-nonsense, practical, challenging training for writers who are serious about getting published. Contact us for more information.
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