Wednesday, January 26, 2011
When Dreams Change
I'm 35 now and the world has changed. I don't browse library shelves; I load up their website, place a hold on a book that they may or may not carry (because they'll just borrow it from another library for me), and get an email telling me it's in. Then I pop into the library for five minutes, at the most, to pick up the book I put on hold. I don't spend time combing through the shelves. Why? There's simply too much to browse through. Fiction is shelved alphabetically, not by genre. I wish fiction was more like the Dewey Decimal System, where all nonfiction is shelved by topic.
I get my book recommendations from friends and family, colleagues and blogs, or by basic word-of-mouth. It's rare for me to be left wondering what to read next because I maintain a list a mile long. I will never, ever run out of books to read - which is a wonderful thing.
But as the "great" rejections from agents piled up, I began to get a little sad. What was I doing, spending two years writing when I was never going to make it? They kept telling me my writing was great, but that the market was too narrow for my work. Narrow? How can a world as wide-open as books ever be too narrow?
The more I thought it about it, the more I realized I simply want people to read my books. I don't have to be on a shelf in a bookstore for that to happen anymore. I don't have to be a New York Times bestseller. What I want is to put a smile on someone's face or make a heart pound just little faster.
I've been published regularly for years as a under my secret journalist identity. I've seen my name in print more often than I can count. You know what? It gets old. It does and I'm sorry if that upsets anyone, but the thrill of seeing my name in a magazine wore off within a year or so. If my biggest goal in traditional publication was to see my name on a hardcover book, I bet eventually that thrill would wear off too.
It's not about seeing my name in print anymore - it's all about sharing the stories I have. My goal is to entertain you, not to feed my own ego.