Sunday, April 13, 2014

The True Source of Dreams

Lately, I’ve noticed how some writers are getting more and more discouraged because they aren’t able to place their manuscripts with their long-time publishers or agents.

After many years of writing and publishing, they are becoming pessimistic about the future of their work. Editors don’t respond to their submissions, agents no longer call or else tell them that their work isn't current, or doesn't meet a certain trend or taste, or simply won't sell. 

I’ve noticed how many writers perceive this as a kind of failure on their part.

Discouragement, it seems, breeds only more discouragement and discontent.

If you, as a writer, allow this discouragement to take root, it can creep into your work day after day and ultimately destroy your faith in it and in yourself.

What you may have forgotten—and what anyone who wants to keep writing needs to remember—is that publishing is nothing more than a mirage.

You can chase after the idea of publication the same way that you might chase after the mirage of water in the desert. In the end it’s not your thirst that will kill you but your loss of hope of ever finding water.

How do you keep writing if you’ve lost hope of publishing?

There’s only one answer: love writing without caring about publishing.

Publishing is nothing more than an illusion, a fantasy, a false image. It’s the kind of illusion that can kill your dreams if you keep thinking you’ll find water—real, nurturing, life-giving water—there.

You may think that you are writing for a particular editor or agent or a larger audience, but when you put your pen to paper each morning (or whenever you sit at your desk to write), there’s only one person who is listening at that moment: you.

Each time you set words down, you’re writing for an audience of one. You are your first and most important (and sometimes only) reader. You are the only guaranteed reader of your work.

To keep writing, you have to ask yourself only one question, and that question isn’t where can I publish my work? It’s this: what story do I want to hear?

If you love writing, love the feel of putting words on paper, love telling yourself stories, and love exploring the world through your words, then write the story that you want to hear.

Even better, write the story that you need to hear.

Let yourself take pleasure in the moments when you can let your imagination roam and follow your heart wherever it takes you.

Please, please, don’t let yourself worry or even think about publishing. If you’re worried about money or about making a living, you need to find a job to support your writing rather than expect your writing to support you.

If you want to write, then you need to keep writing.

Write for the love of writing. Write for the love of words, for the love of story. Write because it’s what you want to do, not because of some future reward or praise or success.

Write because in this moment, right now, writing brings you joy and the deep satisfaction of discovering something that you hadn’t known moments before.

Are you listening?

Write for the love of writing, not for publication, and watch how your feelings toward what you write and toward the process of writing change.

Only once you give up your dreams of publication will your writing be able to sustain you with real nourishment from the true source of dreams.

For more on writing for the love of writing, visit: