Originally posted on Katie Teller's Stories
Dreams vs. Reality
Have you ever asked yourself what you’d spend lottery money on? Where you’d live? What you’d eat? What vacations you’d take? I know I have. I’m fairly positive most of us dream big. Whether we play the lottery or not.
As an author, I think I sometimes dream bigger than most. Not only do I imagine winning the lottery, but I imagine my book becoming a best-seller and hovering at #1 on the NYT list for, oh, I don’t know, two years?! It could happen. No, really, it could!
I’ve thought long and hard about what I’d do with my life. Will I keep working? Will I move? Build a summer and winter home (Longboat Key, Florida and Burlington, Vermont)? Will I stay at home with my kids until they’re off at school and then dash into my massive library to write the rest of the day?
No, yes, and YES!
It’s okay to dream. Really. It is. What’s not okay is thinking that reality will match up to your every expectation. See, I’ve found myself really bummed out by my successes. Rather than sitting on the beach right now, I’m either sitting at a desk at work, driving fifty miles to get home, or at the grocery store . . . you get the point. I’m not living a life of luxury—well, at least to the standards of my DREAMS.
But because reality didn’t match up to my dreams, to my expectations, I forgot to celebrate my successes. You see, I began writing in 2011. January 2011, or something like that. It’s now February 2014, and I have three (almost five) published books.
Say it with me now, “WOW!”
Not only do I have three (almost five) published books, but one of those books climbed the Amazon charts and stayed there a few days. One of those books sits in the hands of close to forty-thousand readers.
But because I envisioned mega-mansions and crazed fans and people calling my name in public, and I didn’t get that, I thought of myself as a failure.
Can you believe that? The very first book I ever wrote was published, and people actually liked it. Some of them loved it. Yet I thought I was a failure. There was one point where I was ashamed to admit I didn’t have an agent. Then I got an agent and was ashamed to say a big house hadn’t picked me up.
I’m actually a pretty down-to-earth, realistic person. So for this to knock me in the gut the way it did, it just goes to show that I let my authorly-imagination run a little too wild. It means I never balanced reality against my dreams. I never sat back and wondered how many books those NYT #1 authors actually wrote before they gained popularity. How many of those authors’ first books are sitting somewhere on a shelf (virtual or not so virtual) collecting dust?
This year I vowed to make a change. I vowed to pause and smell the roses, to stop and celebrate my successes. I also vowed to stop measuring myself against other authors, against whether I have an agent or a six-figure deal. This year I vowed to go where I’m celebrated and remember to applaud every teeny, weeny, itsy, bitsy bit of success.
I hope you do too.