In emailing with another writer about her book out on submission I admitted that one of the publishers she’d mentioned had been my Dream Publisher when I was a young writer just starting out. Which reminded me of the Big Dreams that young writer had, dreams she lugged around for years. Her Big Dreams were very, very specific. And she was extremely impatient about them coming true.
What she—what we—wanted were 3 specific things:
- An MFA from a certain big university
- An agent from a certain big agency
- A novel published with a certain imprint at a certain big house
Funny how things worked out. Item #1 was accomplished, and we’ll be paying off those student loans till we die, so I really wish we’d chucked the list of Big Dreams at twenty-two.
Item #2 was attempted long, long ago, and failed. Then, just this spring, with a new novel, Item #2 was attempted once again—and this time we succeeded… we could have had Item #2 if we wanted it. But then we realized that Item #2 didn’t need to be so rigid… Because what we wanted was someone else. In a startling turn, we shocked ourselves by revising Item #2 and, as you probably know, we’re quite happy with how that worked out.
A strange, sideways version of Item #3 is coming true right now. The novel I’m writing is with the certain big house we’d always wanted, but the imprint is different—it’s a far better-fitting imprint, the perfect imprint. Item #3 didn’t even come up, and until the email with my writer friend today I’d forgotten all about it.
Looking back on all that, I now am doing 3 things:
- Laughing at myself
- Smiling at how things ultimately turned out
- Telling myself to keep an open mind with future Big Dreams
The young writer with the above Big Dreams also had a timetable, and we lost out on that years ago. It’s funny how dreams go when they come true. They’re not what you expected and yet entirely what you’d hoped for all the same. And sometimes they take so long you forgot all about what you thought you wanted. How strange.
Also, maybe, this is a lesson in not planning out your entire life in such specific detail at age twenty.