Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When Dreams Change

I'm a traditional girl in many ways. For years I dreamed of walking into a bookstore or a library and seeing a hardcover with my name on the front. As someone who loved to write since early childhood, I believed that to be the pinnacle of success for a writer. My name - in print - for all to see.

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.



  1. AMEN! I completely agree. In fact, I blogged recently about a similar experience as did PJ Kaiser, a fellow flash writer. I think if traditional publishing was a way to guarantee consistent quality, then it might be worth the pain. But from what I've read recently, I don't think that's the case.

  2. All I have to say is.... Yup. Amen.

    Except that I never bothered querying. I just went straight to indie after reading too many publishing blogs and then discovering Joe Konrath. :)

    But with everything else... Yup. Amen. :)


  3. Thanks GP! I also checked out PJ's post - loved it! :-)

    Amy, good for you for taking the indie path first! I had been querying for a good six months before I heard about Joe. It took me a couple more months, but I drank the Kool-Aid and liked it. ;)

  4. Megg- I just found your blog for the first time with this current post and loved it. I just released my first novel, a YA Fantasy called Across the Galaxy, a week ago on Amazon. But before I did that, I queried NY... and queried some more. And nothing. At the time, I thought all I ever wanted was to see my name in print BUT turns out, that dream has rapidly changed.
    And now that I've gone down this road, I realize I could probably never go traditional. The control freak in me likes this route way too much! ;) And I'm having the time of my life!