The Death of a Dream

It could be the Writer Burnout talking here, or the backlash of yet another gray day outside my window, but I think the dream is dead.

More specifically, the dream I’ve nursed and coddled since I could read stories has taken the cruise over the Rainbow Bridge. Yes, my dream of being a published author has died.

But wait!

There are books published that you have written. Indeed. But those aren’t likely to survive for more than a couple years.
Here’s the story behind that…

Small Publisher

My current small publisher is Sweet Promise Press. I’ve loved working with them, and I currently have seven titles with them.
So what’s the problem?

I chose incorrectly.

Yes, that’s exactly it. I submitted work to two of her shared series and neither of them have taken off. In fact, both of them our proving so unprofitable that the publisher is closing them down.

That means the plans I had to expand my Sweet Grove Romance series are dead. There will be no more books in the First Street Church series.

The publisher’s most successful series don’t appeal to me. As you know, I haven’t been creating anything so far this year. I can’t seem to focus long on a single story line, so nothing longer than a blog post is getting written.

That means once my contracts with SPP expire, those titles will go out of “print” and I’ll no longer be published.

Indie Titles

Most of the authors who work with SPP are hybrid authors, meaning they have independently published many of their own books.
I tried that. It’s called the Reflections Series.

And it is the project that pushed me over the edge into creative burnout.

The books also aren’t selling well enough to return my out-of-pocket investment. This could be because I’m not advertising them widely enough (which also takes money I don’t have) or because they’re in a genre that doesn’t have a ton of readers.

Or maybe they aren’t that great.

After all, there were no gatekeepers to tell me the books didn’t have what it takes. I didn’t read a ton of comparable titles before writing and publishing them.

No, I’m not planning to unpublish these books. I still think they’re a “God thing” and that He’ll direct them to the readers who need them.

But I’m not going to be an indie author. I purchased four pre-made book covers with the intention of writing stories for them, but now that seems like just another bad investment.

The Dream

Folks, I’m old. My dream looked like an agent reading the pages of my young adult fantasy and being swept into the fictional realm I’d created. It looked like a bidding war and a huge advance. There were mega book signing events and movie contracts I TURNED DOWN. Because every great author knows there isn’t a producer who can do their fantasy justice. (Remember, the book is ALWAYS better so why bother with a movie?)

And these days I don’t have the energy to dream.

Most days, I’m feeling successful if I put on real clothes, keep my house clean and get a few hours of work done.

This work mostly involves freelance proofreading jobs. In fact, I’m trying to muster up the energy to get that enterprise off the ground so I don’t have to get a job out of the house.

Those require being fully dressed and looking like a human being. Ugh. Sounds like more work than it’s worth.

If you’re someone who has read and enjoyed my fiction, this is preliminary notice that it has a limited shelf life.

If you’re one of those people I encouraged to follow the dream, I stand by that. As much as it hurts me to know I’ve killed that beautiful vision for my words, I’m not sorry I took six years off from “paying work” to see if I could be a successful author.

As C.S. Lewis said, I’m not too old to dream a new dream or set new goals. I hope and pray someday soon I’ll feel like dreaming again.

9 thoughts on “The Death of a Dream”

  1. Good morning Shari. I have been watching you and your dream, Girl.

    I have been inspired that you have shared your walk as you are the first person that I’ve known who has set a goal to be a published author.

    I have been watching, as you have revealed your determination, put in long and dedicated hours, and poured -what you have made look like – endless energy into promoting all that it takes to be the author you are.

    I have been watching your talent, as I watch many talented artists who make their art look easy – or at least like it could be done by anyone with ease. I have seen, though, because you”ve dared to share it with us, that this profession comes with frustrations – that it brings with it a pain of isolation, doubt, a need for constant self motivation and an ego determined drive to succeed.

    I have been watching you as you struggle to know if your words are appreciated, and I am reminded of my jazz percussionist’s words when he once told me that jazz is only appreciated by 7% of the people, and of that only 3% will appreciate his style, and yet he continues to write music and produce albums. I think, at some level, any artist has to carry that kind of armoured courage on their walk.

    Being an author carries the love of the art but also the pracicalities with some balance. I have been watching you, Shari, as you’ve run your blogs, gotten your letters of rejection and acceptance, held book releases and recorded box openings. You show, because you share, what being an author is about.

    Whether you continue, or you step back, please never doubt your success. You are doing it! You are a published author, and wherever your dream goes I thank you for sharing it and letting me watch.

    Your words have made it to the page. That is success! Well done, my friend!

      1. Connie Craddock

        You have shown the heartache and struggles of publishing.
        But it is the joy of writing a story that you want to tell that makes your eyes shine and animates your face. It is the excitement that I would see and hear as the words and ideas tumbled forth as you barely paused for breath when you were sharing what you were working on. The creative, artistic, talented story teller – the writing gift you were given – seeing that come to life in a published book is awesome. But it is the womans face lit up with excitement and joy as she talks about what she is writing – that is the writer I know and visualize.

        I do not know what will ignite the fire that is just a few small embers now or what will bloom from the seeds that are temporarily dormant – but I believe that only a spark is needed; the warmth of the sunlight , the rain of inspiration. It will come.
        Let Hope and Light push out the dark negative thoughts.

        1. And thus, the reason I needed to write and publish this obituary. I have to mourn the dream that did not manifest the way I expected and hoped. I need to let it go. I think that’s the first step to unearthing the passion.
          I pray it’s so, anyway. If I want to write for joy and myself, that’s a different thing than being a published author and making that a “career’. Currently, I can’t write much of anything creative. A few hundred words for a blog post feels like an hour in the dentist’s chair.
          A new dream will come. Next month. Next year. What do I do until then? It’s hard for a Type A person to sit still that long.

  2. As an indie author myself, I always figured “success” was having total strangers pay actual money to read my words. You’ve done that, even if it hasn’t been a financial success, you’ve reached people and that’s wonderful.

    Don’t stop writing, even if you’re not making it a business right now. I hope you keep finding gems in your imagination to jot down in a file somewhere.

    The creative mind is a beautiful thing, Sharon. A blessing, indeed.

    1. Sandi – At the moment, the creativity is what has gone missing. And I like your definition of success. Mine wasn’t really about money but it was about having my stories reach more people.
      Thanks for the encouragement to keep writing. I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo with a small goal of writing some words every day. Lord willing, the words will speak to me again.

  3. You are a published author. Whether or not those works are available to the public is irrelevant (though doubtless a source of great frustration). To draw a comparison, if a woman loses her husband she becomes a widow, she doesn’t magically transform back into a spinster.
    I’d say write as/when/if you feel led and don’t bash yourself over the head with “shoulds” or even “should’ves”

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