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  • Writer's pictureJohn Ellington

The Only Way not to Achieve Your Dream is to not Dream in the First Place

I wrote this quote on the inside cover of the first proof copy of my novel "Whispering Winds of Appalachia" around a month ago. After the long, tedious journey of writing, editing, and producing a novel, I finally held a paperback book in my hand and, despite a "not for resale" ribbon across the front cover, it looked, felt, and smelled like an actual book. Gone were the days of reading a Microsoft Word document, or making friends flip large sheets of paper to read my story. I set out to write a book, and now I held it knowing I accomplished that dream.

In fact, I was so excited to open the box, I cut my finger on the cardboard...

But why was I so excited?

Was I excited to make money from the time and effort I put into this book? After all, it cost me about $8000 from start to finish to create it.

Was I hopeful that it would somehow make me cool?

Maybe my name would become ever-so-slightly more known than it is now?

I truly believe that the answer to each of these questions is a resounding NO. First of all, people don't write books to make money, at least not at first. It is very difficult to create any real income from a fiction novel, especially one that is self-published. I'm also past the age where I'm concerned about my social status. I am who I am and those who like me might think I'm cool. If everyone else thinks I'm a loser, so be it. Trust me, I will not lose any sleep. So why, then, was I so excited that I sliced my finger open on the Amazon package?

I was excited because I had a dream that I didn't give up on. It would have been easy along the process of writing this story to quit. I had days, weeks, even months, go by where I had no interest in writing. Several times, I sat down to write and then deleted everything shortly after, telling myself it was absolute garbage. I remember laying in the back of my truck next to the East Fork of the Roaring River in Roaring Gap, NC trying to type a story. Sometimes the sound of the river would inspire me, and other times it would put me to sleep. Some of the story was fun to write, but a lot of it also made my mind feel like rusty, grinding gears.

When I had finally finished the rough manuscript, I sent it to my editor, excited for an affirmation of a job well done. Boy, was I in for a surprise. While he complimented my style, the characters, and the natural setting, he also ripped the plot a NEW ONE. I had major holes, especially regarding legal proceedings. It took almost as much effort to correct the story as it did to write it in the first place. Every plot detail I had to change caused a butterfly effect in the remainder of the novel, making me reorder chapters, add chapters, change dates, change thoughts, emotions, dialogue. It was utterly painstaking.

When I finally received the copy of the final manuscript, I breathed a massive sigh of relief, and received the much anticipated and hoped for affirmation from my editor. Fortunately, my cover designer did a fantastic job that required little effort from my end. She was amazing. But then I had to start the process of marketing...

I hate annoying people, especially family and friends. My mother gifted me with empathy, which helps me see situations from other peoples' points of views. Unfortunately, I have taken that part of my personality and ran with it. I no longer just perceive other peoples' emotions; I fabricate them and overthink things that require very little thinking. The result is that every single time I had to post something on social media or reach out to friends and family, I felt like an annoying, superficial friend. I could see people in my mind sitting on their phone after a long day of work thinking, "Jesus, another post from John about his stupid book." I hope you believe me when I say I have NOT enjoyed marketing.

Lastly, all of this has cost money. I am not complaining AT ALL because it was worth every penny, but it's worth noting this was another barrier than needed overcoming to make my dream a reality.

For all of the reasons NOT to finish and release my novel, one powerful conviction kept me moving forward. I told myself I would do it. It was as simple as that. I owed it to myself. The only way to not achieve my dreams would be to stop dreaming, and I wasn't ready to do that.

Everyone has dreams. Anyone that may read this has something they have always wanted to do or to try. What's stopping you? Apart from money, the other reasons are shallow and lousy excuses. Set a goal that is attainable and go freaking obtain it. It was never my goal to write any sort of best seller. I simply wanted to show myself that if I put the effort in, and focused my brain on one task--instead of doom scrolling--that I could write a book and one day hold it in my hand. No one can ever take that from me, even if the book tanks.

Find your dream, eliminate your distractions, believe in yourself, and go take the first step.

The thoughts, 'I've never done that before', 'I don't know how to do it', 'I don't have time', 'What will people think?' are meaningless. No one was born with skills and talents. At some point they took the first step. Find and take yours. It's worth it.

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