by Jamie Freveletti
I’m a bit tired of people stepping on dreams. I have a lot of dreams. Some are pretty attainable, and others are off the charts so rare that even I have to admit the odds are long.
But I still don’t want you to step on them.
My view on dreams is that if I’m not bothering anyone, haven’t compromised my real life existence to attain them, and in other ways am a responsible person, then the best thing to do is leave me go on my merry way.
Which brings me to the moral dilemma I face when giving panels on writing. People ask me, will this be published? What are the odds? What do you thnk?
Here’s what I think: the odds are long, we know that. The time spent on writing may never pay off, either financially or in published format, we know this also. So what? Should you give up? Stop writing? Choose not to start? Only you know if that’s right for you.
Of course, this answer never satisfies. When I say, “if you continue, diligently, for many years, taking courses, staying in the writing world, going to conferences and panels to pick up tips, you will be published.”
The next question I get is: “How many years?”
This answer is not acceptable to many, either, but it’s true. Last week I watched “Biography” present George Clooney. By most standards, he’s a success in his field. The backstory was interesting. He landed in Hollywood in his early twenties. Did bit parts and recurring roles until he hit with “ER.” Time from landing in LA to ER: ten years give or take. Ten years to get a role that really pushed his career to the next level. That’s a long time. If I said ten years to a new writer, they’d likely get angry. “Ten years! But I want this manuscript to sell now, not ten years down the road.”
I imagine Clooney wanted to hit ten years earlier, too, but that wasn’t in the cards for him. From ER he took roles in movies that generated roller coaster reviews and average box office. Then came “The Perfect Storm.” Big hit, great reviews. Time from landing in LA to big hit—eighteen years, give or take.
So should the unpublished writer give it ten years to get published, another eight to hit huge, and be prepared to wait eighteen altogether? I’m not a fan of delusion, but in this case absolute truth is harsh. Even I, the tortoise of the hare and tortoise race, wince at eighteen years.
But I write because I have to. I love it. A few days without writing and I’m definitely headed into a downer mode. Best I just hit the computer for a couple of hours. I always feel better after. The only other option is to quit. Now, that’s a great option if it doesn’t really matter to you, but if you like writing, like creating characters, and like the creativity that goes along with it, then don’t quit.
Just trudge onward. Your turn will come.
Running from the Devil
Morrow: May 2009