I wrote recently about dreams and that sometimes it’s just impossible to reach certain dreams and goals. Well, that’s tied in to other conclusions I have drawn about my own life. I’m in my 40s now and still have plenty of good years ahead, very likely, but I’m not 20 anymore. And I’m really generally OK with that: more than OK, really — I’m happy with where I am and wouldn’t want to go back to those early years of adulthood.
I love to write, and I love to read. I’ve always wanted to have a book published, and when I was in my late 20s, I wrote a memoir that was just a series of vignettes about my experiences raising my first child. (Now she’s a senior in high school, a stage in life I never could imagine in those long, early days.) I worked on it and worked on it, and I wrote dozens of revisions of query letters and mailed out hundreds to agents and some publishers. I kept all those rejection letters in a file folder and just went through them again, more than 10 years later. I don’t think I’m ready to toss them all. They’re somehow a reminder of the work I put into this goal, and how dedicated I was to achieving it.
Even so, I never acquired an agent or got a traditional publisher to take on the work of publishing my magnum opus. Not too surprising; getting memoirs published is nearly impossible. So, after a few years, I decided to self-publish. I really did my homework and made my product the best it could be without completely breaking the bank. I found a printer and had 2,000 copies printed. The day they were delivered, I had 20 white boxes full of my pretty pink books sitting in my living room, a testament to my optimism and, probably, stubbornness.
I sold 200. And through two moves, one all the way across the country, I have kept all those remaining boxes. But now I am ready to get rid of most of them. I accept I’ll never sell them. I don’t think they’re my best work anymore. I’ve evolved as a writer. And they might just be too cutesy for most people. So, all these years later, some are being donated to the local book sale, and the rest are going to the recycling bin.
I realized a while ago I’m probably not meant for fiction, either, though it is easier to get published (I’ve tried writing some and I like the results even less than I like my memoir now). I think I’m too much of a journalist after all these years to write stuff completely out of thin air. So, nonfiction seemed still the best way to go. I thought that I’d develop my series of articles about plastic surgery in Utah into a faith-based book on self-image and beauty. I worked on it for a year. I sent it in to a good publisher for our faith community. Two months ago, my chapters were rejected. The company wants to publish a book on that topic, but my manuscript isn’t quite the right fit.
I’ve also now decided it’s time to put that book on the shelf for good. It was a good experience and I learned a lot from it, but I’m done with it. I feel it’s time to move on.
It’s time for me to focus on what I’m truly good at, and that’s editing and helping other people with their writing. I’ve been editing for newspapers for years, and I can say with all honesty that I’m very good at it. More than that: I’m excellent, really talented. I’ve always wanted to get into editing manuscripts for book publishers, and it seems I now have an opportunity to get a foot in the door for that goal as well. So I’m going to take it, go for it, put my time and efforts into that. I’m ready to move forward.
That means I’m closing the door on the book writing, at least for now. New doors may be opening, and I have to close the doors on the old stuff behind me first. I only have so much time and energy for career-oriented goals in my life, so I have to focus on the real opportunities and let go of the old dreams. Besides, this is a dream, too, just a different one. Watch me turn the knob to see where this door takes me.