Monday, March 5, 2012

Dreaming. Not just for nighttime anymore.

I have all sorts of dreams. I have a neverending list of things I dream of achieving.
I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have achieved anything had I not thought to dream it first.

Which brings me to the question I got from a letter writer this weekend.
My boyfriend thinks my writing dream is stupid and he makes fun of me for it. What do I do?

First answer:
Kill him?
Eat him?

No no. My first answer is: you are not alone. You would be surprised at how many people exist to shit on other people's dreams. My God, they are everywhere. Like stink bugs in a Pennsylvania spring, I'm telling you. The world is infested with dream killers.

So you happen to be dating one of them.
I know writers who are married to them.
I've always felt really sad for these people, and yet, they have something I don't have. They have the strength to write every day without the support of the person who's supposed to love them most in the world.
Wow, right?
I have no idea how they do that.

But maybe I do. A little.
I've always had a supportive spouse, though sometimes he had to learn how to be a supportive spouse. My being a writer wasn't part of our vows. He had to learn the skill of leave-her-the-hell-alone-if-you-hear-typing. He had to watch The Shining a few million times to really appreciate just how crazy his wife had become.

Warning to those skittish of curse words: There is cursing in the following clip. (Because it's The Shining dude. I wouldn't recommend it for any skittish people.)

But I've had experiences.
For 15 unpublished years I wrote novels while being mocked by people around me. I was clueless, too, which didn't help. I don't know any writers who were not clueless at one point or another. (If they say they weren't ever clueless, they're lying.)

I've had so-called friends tell me that I was wasting my time and gossip about how I was a loser for deciding to write instead of going to their parties. I've had people condescendingly pat me on the head like I was some child who still believed in Santa Claus. Because to the unpublished writer, I guess seeing your book on the shelf is a little like seeing Santa Claus.

But here's the sad part. It never ends. Since I've become published, I've discovered that writers say and do dream-killing shit too. Apparently, since I've already seen Santa Claus, I'm not supposed to hope I see him again. I'm not supposed to write him a list for next year. Hell, I'm not even supposed to be good all year in hopes that he'll notice. No. I should leave Santa the hell alone and leave the bigger presents to other writers because I got mine already.
Isn't that what we all dream of when we dream of becoming successful writers? A few books, and then out?
One award and then no more for me?

Yeah. These dream-killers. They are motivated. They want us to stop being awesome.
Our job is to show them just how big our awesome can get.

Letter-writer, stay strong. Keep writing. As a woman who's been married 20 years this week and who is entirely badass about people being nice (defined: you have to teach people how to treat you, or else you'll be a doormat) I'm not sure I'm the one to give advice about this.
Or maybe I am.
If you have a dream and anyone who loves you tries to squish it, they are not really being a friend. Parents are kinda allowed, because they are always looking out for our best interests and becoming a writer is a risky job choice. But spouses of writers? Yeah. They need to be supportive.
Friends of writers need to be supportive. Every step of the way, too, and not just until they reach the point of jealousy and then decide to cut you down every time they feel like it. (Chances are, if you see enough of Santa Claus, those same people will be asking for favors out of the other side of their mouth moments later.)

This shit is for real. If you want it, you have to believe like the way my 4-year-old believes in Santa Claus. Except in this case, you have to believe in yourself. You can't fake it. You can't be too cool for it. And anyone who steps in your path and tries to make you feel small for it will become increasingly annoying and obvious.

If this is someone you love, like your boyfriend (or girlfriend), I say sit down and tell him/her these things. Show him/her this blog. Then yell at him/her for being so utterly douchey. If he/she dosen't get it, then think of this scenario: If you do make it to see Santa Claus, and Santa gives you a movie deal, do you really want the douche who didn't support you walking down the red carpet alongside you acting like he helped you along the way?

"Friends... they cherish one another's hopes. They are kind to one another's dreams."
--Henry David Thoreau


Jo Treggiari said...

Been there. Now I have a new boyfriend.

Unknown said...

Great Advice. I was married to someone who treated my writing as "That thing she does with her book club" -- book club... Ugh. I am in the unpublished period in my career but I have had minimal success and recognition for my writing. Then he took notice and his tune changed. However, we are not married anymore.

Caroline said...

I totally agree and love the Thoreau quote at the end!

Krista said...

As a friend who watched your journey unfold,a nd your dream come true(remember when I texted you that photo of D100D on the shelf they day I purchased it? :) ). I hope I count as a friend who has always supportd your dream! :)

Joanne Levy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
A.S. King said...

Krista, you've always been uber supportive of the dream. You ROCK for it.

You would never tell me that my dreams are impossible...even if they were. That's the point. It's also why we've been friends for 23 years.


Kathryn Craft said...

Love this, Amy, all the way through. (Love The Shining clip too!) I was married to a man who called my paid newspaper writing my "volunteer work." I persevered, yet only wrote nonfiction—arranging the words necessary to put events and opinions on the page was all I could pull off under that kind of gun.

When I remarried, my true writing began to flow. Fiction requires a lot of brainpower and I'm not so sure you can do it well if you're fending off attack. I know I couldn't.

A.S. King said...

Rock on, Kathryn.
It's hard enough, isn't it? Without having to fend off people who are supposed to be nice?

I actually had a person write to me last year to tell me that a dream I'd mentioned was impossible. Imagine taking time out of your day in the name of "Well, I'm only trying to help because you shouldn't have impossible dreams."

All dreams are impossible until you achieve them, right?
That's the point.


Glad you're flowing now. That makes me smile.

Kat Brown said...

My mom's really supportive of my writing, although she often says things like "why don't you write something like Harry Potter so you can make a lot of money and then do the serious literature thing?" My dad, on the other hand, wants me to be an accountant *gag* although he was oddly supportive of me back when I was a theatre major and wanted to be a broadway star.

A.S. King said...

Do your thing, Kat. Your thing. And those Harry Potter jabs. Yeah. Mine were John Grisham jabs and I just had to remind myself that most people don't know much of anything about this business but what they see on the shelf at the supermarket.
You just write.
And dream!
Then write more.

Matthew MacNish said...

Emer would know exactly what to do with this fellow.

Alissa Grosso said...

The day I graduated high school, my grandmother told me not to believe any of that nonsense about following my dreams. Thankfully, I didn't listen to her.

Oh, and on the boyfriend front. It took me a good long time, but I finally found the right one, and he supports me in my writing and my crazy dreams. It probably helps that he too tends to dream big.

Marie Gilbert said...

Loved this post and I'm glad I found in on Kathryn Craft's page. I call the people who trample on dreams, "Emotional Vampires."

Maya said...

I've been blessed with supportive friends and teachers, although some extended family members haven't been quite so supportive. Lots of people look down on me because I'm writing a young adult novel in particular. Stay strong, just as you said, Amy. And really, you would know, 'cause you're serious awesomesauce. :) If I become even half as good a writer as you when I manage to finish something, I will consider that a job well done.


DonnaGalanti said...

First of all as one experienced in this, "like stink bugs in a Pennsylvania spring" - darn right on that! And I don't listen to dream killers anymore. I tell myself (and my son) to think of them as "irrelevant" - they are miserable people and I'm glad to not be them. Squash em' the overrun of stink bugs we're beginning to get here in PA! I'm blessed with a supportive husband who lifts me up in my new author career so much, that I can forgive him the fact he hates to read and will only experience my books if they ever come out on audio. Great post!