You may have noticed that I'm on a "dreams actually do come true" kick lately. I understand that you might be sick of reading about it. Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal to you or maybe I'm blowing this whole thing out of proportion. After all, it is only a novella. It's not like a real book or anything, right?
Well, I mean yes. It is a novella, not a full-length novel. But it is my novella. And it's being published on Amazon (and Google Play, and iBooks, and Barnes and Noble, and Kobo).
There are a dozen things you could say to minimize this moment. But why would you? Seriously. Why would you minimize the joy someone feels for making a dream come true?
This has been on my mind lately. It's really the dark side of dreams. But I see it all around. Not really for this. Everyone that is close to me has been super supportive of this happening. And in truth, the only one really trying to steal some of the amazingness of the moment is my own stupid doubt. Not to worry, he's currently in a food coma from Easter dinner.
Look around you, though. When someone is having success. When they are making their dreams come true. There is always someone that will minimize the moment.
Well...I can't speak to the other people that do it, but I've been giving it some thought in my own life as it pertains to being 9 days away from being a published author.
It comes down to one thing. Accountability.
Before I wrap that in to this current life situation, let's take a trip back to 1989.
A junior in high school gets his first guitar. He's been hanging around other musicians and somehow thinks he will eventually be a rock star someday. He's really kind of a mediocre musician at best, but he hangs around with amazing musicians hoping something will rub off. This cat is pretty good with penning lyrics, but singing and playing an instrument isn't really his gig. I'm passable on guitar. I mean he is passable on guitar, but nothing stellar. Still, he considers himself a lyricist and poet. And even had a brief rap career (highlighted by a performance at a high school pep rally).
In college, he still fooled around with guitar. He was in a band, but always thought if he made the big time, he would really just be along for the ride, and not actually a direct contributor to the band's fame.
Did he dream of playing to sold out auditoriums? Hell yes he did. After playing shitty campus dives, the drug of playing in front of an audience was in his system. It probably still is.
It's terrifying and electrifying all at the same time.
Fast forward to 2008.
This same cat (OK, it's me). I won a contest. A chance to go to Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp (look at blog posts from August 2008 to get the full story).
So...I had a dream of being a rock star. And for 6 days, I was. I was a rock star. Tour bus, chauffeur picking me up from the air port, hotels, personal guitar techs. The whole nine yards. For 6 days I was a rock star.
Dream come true, right?
It was an opportunity of a lifetime. But as for a dream coming true, I wouldn't put it in the same bucket.
The dream of being a rock star was not the same kind of dream as the dream of being a writer/author/inspiration to someone else.
There are two main differences. Technically they were both dreams coming true in the strictest sense (which really just leaves astronaut at this point), but it was how they came true that makes all the difference in the world.
The two things...well, and a third thing that may or may not be a subset, anyway. The three things crucial (at least in my twisted mind) to having it really count as a dream come true are:
So...the rock star dream really kind of failed on all three fronts. I didn't work for it. I entered a contest. The 'dream' came true because someone pulled my name out of a hat. This is the main reason that it really was merely a wonderful opportunity, but not a dream come true. Also...I didn't take any risk. Again, random chance pulled my name. And because of this, I don't have the belief that I could replicate it. Based on where I am in my life, and my musical skill/talent (or lack thereof), there is figuratively (and more than a little bit literally) no way I would ever find myself in a band with Dave Ellefson, Gilby Clarke, or Glenn Hughes and playing sold out shows in Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, or L.A. It's a Rock and Roll Fantasy.
And it was fun for a week.
Contrast that to the writing thing.
I have been writing all my life. Writing for school, writing for fun, writing to try and impress girls...you name it. Writing is at the core of who I am. It is as entwined with my identity as those wild eyebrows that I occasionally have to trim so I don't look like the Geico cavemen.
Yes, I am friends with the person putting together the box set coming out on April 25th. And yes, she asked me to participate. Was it a random drawing? No. At least I don't think so. Was it someone further along in their writing career and giving an unknown a chance to break in to the industry? You bet your ass it was.
But at that point, it was on me.
I had to create the story. And it was in a genre I had never written in, I might add. So...I had some work to do.
I did the work. Oddly enough, it really wasn't like any of the ways that people romanticize authors. Except maybe the writing in my underwear. For some reason rolling right out of bed, grabbing an energy drink on the way to keyboard and writing before my brain had the chance to talk me out of it worked out quite well.
I am taking the risk. There is a HUGE fear that everyone that reads this story will hate it and that the 7 people that Beta Read it for me are just being nice because they like me as a person. But I'm putting it out there anyway. I like the story. I'm taking ownership of it. Like it or not, it's my story. And on April 25th, it's in your hands.
And now for the shittiest part of a dream come true. I mean when a dream truly comes to fruition.
When a dream comes true, it is no longer a dream.
I'll let that sink in for a moment. I know it sounds like an obvious thing, but you should read the sentence again. It goes deeper than you think, says the philosophy major.
You see, dreams are these amazing ethereal things. Goals that we day dream about when our boss is bitching about his TPS report.
"Someday I'm going to get my poem/story/novella/novel/screenplay published and I'll be a real writer. Someday I'll be able to make a living with my writing, TPS reports be damned!"
And that's cool.
Until the dream comes true.
Once the dream comes true, it is no longer the dream. It is no longer the pie in the sky imaginary cure-all.
Once the dream comes true, it becomes part of your reality. It may not be part of someone else's reality, but it's part of yours.
On April 25th, 2017 I will be a published author. Prior to that date, the only way you could read my 'works' was on this blog, or if I had sent you something to read. Or, if you were part of one of the writing groups in which I shared my work.
After the 25th, though, all of that changes. People that don't know me from boo will read my work. They'll love it, hate it, or not give two shits about it. And it will all be out of my hands.
When that happens, I have no choice but to face the reality of the situation. I will be a published author. And dreams come true. It will no longer be a dream for me. It will be a reality. I'm accountable at that point.
I know that this novella isn't going to be the story that allows me to be a full-time writer. But it is the first step of many that will lead to that goal.
The bitch of it is, as amazing as it is...that dream can only come true once. And when it happens, all of the other dreams related to writing are also no longer dreams. At least not in the sense they are now.
I have a dream of being a published author, having complete strangers read and (hopefully) be moved by my words.
I have a dream of being a best-selling author. Both nationally and internationally.
I have a dream of inspiring others to be creative and find their passion (as I have found mine).
And some of the ancillary dreams that go along with it...book signings...having someone come up to me and tell me I'm their favorite author, or that my book(s) changed their life in some small or not so small way.
But you see....all of those start with the dream of becoming a published author.
And that comes true in nine days.
Therefore by proxy, the rest of them actually cease to be dreams in 9 days. At that point they become goals. They become these real things that are now tangible things that could happen in my life. Because I've already proven that dreams can come true.
If I want to make those goals come true, I will have to work. I will have to take risks. I will have to take ownership of my works. And I will have to be accountable. There is no contest I can enter that will make me an international best-selling author.
The only thing that will get me there is writing.
And I'll do that.
Because I'm a writer.
And as addicting as it was to play on stage in front of hundreds of people at a sold out concert at the Fillmore East in San Francisco, it was infinitely more amazing being able to fill out my Author Profile page on Amazon and being able to put my name in the search box and find the box set that my novella is a part of.
When dreams come true, we can either be content or hungry. If you're hungry, then you realize that the only difference between a dream and reality is the amount of work you're willing to put in to making it come true. Dreaming takes zero effort. Making the dream a reality takes more work than you think possible at times. But it's possible. I know that now. Because in 9 days one of my dreams comes true.
And if one dream comes true, it stands to reason that they can all come true.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some more work to do.