Newsflash–your dreams won’t come true. Just because you can see it doesn’t mean you can achieve it. You can “never give up” and still never get what you want.
But the good news is–it’s all okay. Let’s back up a bit.
I don’t see a lot of movies simply because I have a very hard time sitting still for that long. If I’m really into something, I can make it but if it loses me then I’m a fidgety nightmare and very uncomfortable. So what I usually do is read the synopsis on Wikipedia or somewhere and decide if I think I can make it. (Yes, I know I am spoiling myself but I am also one of those people who looks at the last page of a book before I read it, so there you go!).
Folks were talking about La La Land and how it encourages folks to never give up their dreams. This is just a silly message, so I knew I’d never see it but I wanted to see exactly how the people reached these dreams. When I read how the SPOILER lady becomes a famous actress, I started to giggle so hard that I almost choked. Legit, she puts on some shitty one person play, no one really sees it but someone a famous talent scout/director type sees it and calls her to audition for his movie.
Because that happens.
Yeah, I know it’s just a movie and people who have seen it probably can explain it better but…seriously? I fully believe that most of achieving anything is dumb luck combined with being in the right place at the right time (something I rarely am). So while I definitely saw myself sitting with the huge book deal and cult following, I most likely will not be able to achieve this without some huge, huge stroke of luck. Like, you know, a big timey book editor reading this blog and deciding she has to have all of my work.
Because that happens.
At some point, you get to the river where upon “having big dreams” is on one side and “crazy pants” is on the other. And hopefully, you dive into the river of Checking Oneself and Realizing It’s Okay to Temper Your Dreams. It’s okay to realize you aren’t going to be on the red carpet or playing at the big arena stadium or whatever pie-in-the-sky fantasy we all have. It isn’t easy, and it’s extremely painful to watch it from afar, but it’s okay. And no, just because it happened to someone, most definitely does not mean it will happen to you.
I love numbers. And I love looking at probabilities and I try to explain this to kids not to discourage their dreams but to encourage reality and a back up plan. If 3,000,000 books are published each year, and maybe 10 had big timey deals, and you remember maybe three of those titles in a year…well, those aren’t really good odds, are they? But if you check yourself and adjust expectations and decide that self publishing a “how to” guide for travelers to your hometown is as meaningful as all of the awards and accolades, then you will be fine. (And I don’t mean this to be a pejorative. I mean that examining what is meaningful is very important)
I recently went back and polished up a book (that will not get published, and that’s probably okay) and literally watched myself mature over each rewrite. When I first scribbled it out in 2000ish, I had the main character as a big timey author with huge advances, no other job except writing, a movie deal in the works, and a cult following. A few years later, the advances were lower and the movie deal wasn’t mentioned. Then we went to a Michigan based author who taught some college classes to make ends meet. Now we landed on a teacher who is trying to get a book published.
The story I want to see/read is from the people who didn’t have the talent scout at their shitty play. I want to hear from the people who never even started (wanted to be an actor, never even auditioned for a play), the people who tried but then realized that it was the right time to walk away (maybe got a few acting roles), the people who got real close (got an agent, didn’t get any good roles), thought they had it but it wasn’t what they thought it would be (maybe had one big role or something), and how it is ALL OKAY.