When a Writing Dream Becomes a Mission #amwriting

Dance leap on the beach

Two years ago, my lovely, well-read, Russian friend Irina and I were chatting over coffee, reflecting on how some people seem to soar toward their dreams while others — like us — do not. “Break through the wall,” Irina said. Somehow, those words resonated. Each night after my family settled into their beds, I held her words close as I stole upstairs and Just Wrote.

I finally started working on a novel idea that had been kicking around in my head for years– through countless short stories, writer’s workshops (in one of which I met my future husband), a writing conference or two, a local writers’ network I founded that lived on long after I left it. After that one conversation with Irina, I started my novel, one character, one plot idea at a time.

And then abandoned it.

A few months later, I participated in my first National Novel Writing Month, jumped in with both feet, attended write-ins, checked off goals. And I completed the novel. Or a semblance of one. A rambling, complicated mess, actually. But alone in a Starbucks just before closing time I typed these words: “The End.” And I cried. I collected myself, went to the counter to buy a green tea, and when the Starbucks employee gave it to me for free he was joining my celebration and didn’t even know it.

I printed out the manuscript of my first novel, wrote out the scenes on flash cards, tried reordering them all into a semblance of a logical narrative. Then gave up.  I put the manuscript in a drawer, tossed the pile of scene cards on top, and left it.

But I kept writing.

Short stories, more novel ideas, observations on my fresh return to writing, my fear and excitement over witnessing what had always been a DREAM turning into a GOAL.  About the possibility that maybe it really is Never Too Late.

Then one day a character stepped out onto my page in all her feisty, loyal, kick-ass glory. Her magical world, her concept, all right there. And now I’m completing the third, much improved, 80,000-word draft of her YA fantasy story.

I wish I could explain how I finally broke through the wall. I think part of it is that, for so many years, I limited myself to only writing short stories because that seemed more attainable. But now I was finally allowing myself to write novels. As daunting as that had always seemed, I realized for the first time in my life that writing a novel was possible. And I loved it. Novels made sense to me because they are what I have always read. To be sure, writing a novel is as bloody difficult as everyone says, but I haven’t given up (well, not for more than a couple of days), and ideas for new novels are springing up all over the place.

As a writer, I still battle deep insecurities, but I breathe deep and jump back in to tackle those weak plot points, underdeveloped characters, and bad prose. The answers come. And I feel the shift.

My DREAM has become a MISSION.

–Eve Messenger

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31 comments

  1. Thank you for writing this. Perfect timing. I literally just said to my husband over lunch today, “It’s like there is this wall… and I am just having trouble breaking it down to step to the other side of whatever authorship is…” You rock.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Keep going! I think it is better to push ahead, however lovely or horrible your reception, than look back and regret not having gone the distance. If you do it for yourself because you must and not for outside approval, it will probably be really good. You articulated a bit of the struggle of not knowing who you are and where you fit in. Your writing is probably more than a “hobby.” It might be likened to a spiritual practice or self therapy because your process will help you know who you are.

    Ok, to be fair–what are my qualifications to give advice? None! I have never published except in my agency newsletter. But I have the credentials to cheer you on! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This speaks to me on a deep level. I am nursing school and I have always written. Lately I have been feeling so lost and stagnant. Your post brings me hope.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is so inspiring. Congratulations first of all on your journey, and the outcome! This post is definitely going to keep my motivated to strive my hardest to make my passions my reality. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been there. And so (I’m guessing) has everyone else who ever published a book. And to justify saying that, I’ll add that I’ve now published three novels, going the traditional, not the self-published, route. You don’t start out knowing you’ll get published. You start out with ambitions and doubts–lots of doubts. You abandon attempts. If you work like hell and have some degree of ability, you get better along the way. Hang in there, and good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks. The wishes of good luck remind me to say that every time I reach one of my goals, a new one replaces it and it never really I’ve arrived. Maybe that’s a good thing, but it’s frustrating as well.

        Like

  6. I loved reading this so much! Breaking through the wall as it’s put in this is a perfect way to explain how we have to get past whatever issues are keeping us from really fighting for what we want. Lovely, and now I am very much looking forward to reading about your kickass character in her magical world ^_^.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Being a writer sure ain’t easy but I do believe you’re doing things the right way. I don’t know whatever possessed me but I wrote my novel first, and now I’m writing short pieces for Rachael Ritchie writing blog battle! Writing flash fiction and short stories is a great way to improve your writing craft. I plunged in too quickly and had to do a lot of edits and rewrites of that first unpublished novel. Good luck with your creative journey I hope it brings you much success and happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Marje! You sure are right about flash fiction. I recently started trying my hand at it, and boy does it help tighten up prose. Funny as this may seem, so does writing <140-character tweets, a surprising discovery made as I've become more involved in the Twitter writing community. #Askagent has been a godsend.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Eve this is so amazing and a lot (pretty much all) of what you said resonates soooo deeply with me. Before starting on my current WIP a year ago, I only wrote short fiction and neeever in my current genre because when I was in college Sci-Fi/Fantasy was salted and killed with fire out of me (thanks acadamia). Anywho, you’re so right that we have to battle the insecurites in ourselves. Thank you for writing your truth here and sharing it. It’s important that others see they’re not alone. I know it’s important for me to know that I’m not alone in these feelings.

    Thank you for this as well:

    My DREAM has become a MISSION.

    I love that! Keep on fighting Eve!! ^.^

    Like

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