Saturday, May 31, 2014

After the dream comes true

Let's say you've met a major life goal, maybe your biggest life goal to date. You've gotten into that school, won that Olympic medal, made that breakthrough. Maybe your dream was to publish a book, and you've done it.

What next?

I've had the chance to watch many writers break through the book-publishing barrier, and I've gone through it myself. Generally what happens is that we instantly select new goals: to publish again, to write more, to write better, to be more widely read, to try something different or repeat a success. But after passing through that gateway, the path goes all over the place. It doesn't always go to happy places. Or, more likely, it doesn't go only to happy places. It goes up and down; it twists; it may go in circles or reach dead ends. It usually has many forks.

I've seen writers turn to new goals in other fields. They decide that being a parent, or a teacher, or another kind of artist, or something else, is really where they need to go from here.

I've seen writers publish more and have incredible success.

I've seen writers put together a career from trying this and that, doing some editing, doing some work-for-hire, trying different genres, turning to pseudonyms. One way and another, they're continuing to write.

I've seen writers disappear and I don't know what they're doing now: they might be writing under pseudonyms, or they might not be writing anymore. I'm not sure.

When we reach a big goal, we don't know how it will play out for us. The road of any life is seldom a straight one, seldom predictable and smooth. But life goes on, and it goes on testing us. And most people then have to ask that question (What next?) and make some choices, and for some of us it involves reimagining our futures. Most of us thought the answer to the question would be simply, "Publish more books," but there are other answers, other options.


  1. Jennifer: what you say is true. But if anyone had told twenty-something me that thirty years later, I would still have very little idea of what the future held for me, I would have burst out laughing! You never know until you get there.

  2. I've always thought I might move on to something else if my plans didn't turn out like I wanted, but it looks like writing is a more sure path than I thought it would ever be. Not financially yet, I guess, but emotionally, it has been more fulfilling than I could have ever dreamed. I can't part with that. Follow your heart. That's the lesson I keep learning.

  3. I don't know what I'd do after I get published, because I'm not there yet. But I think that the need to express myself and be creative will be always be the common threads in the things I pursue from the heart.

    1. I do think most writers keep on writing, even though the format and forum may change.