Someone once told me dreams and goals are two very different things for one reason:
A goal is something, that once you decide to achieve it, only you can stop yourself from succeeding.
Goals: Graduate high school
Live in Boston by the age of 35
Earn a bachelors degree
Eat Chinese three nights a week for the rest of your life
Dreams, as far fetched as they sometimes seem, are achievable, but you do not control when or how they come to reality. That lies in someone else's hands.
Dreams: My kids graduate high school with a 4.0
Make $250K a year camping on my sofa
Become a NYTimes Best Selling Author
Now, as this is a writing blog, how do goals and dreams relate to US writers?
As many of you have figured out, our success is often in the hands of another or several others...
Or is it?
For most of us, I believe it's true, that we don't set out with the big dream of being an NYTimes Best Selling Author in mind. We start out with a goal. And this goal often feels like climbing Mount Everest in ballet slippers. You can all guess this goal is to Write A Book.
As we scale Everest in our ballet slippers, inching toward the highest peak, something strange happens. Everest starts to shrink because our original goal--Writing a book--is no longer what we hope to obtain, because we've very nearly gotten it.
Our new and even far more difficult goal is to whittle a forest full of trees into two perfect toothpicks, both suitable for a Queen's martini, you know, in case she breaks one glaring at it. Yes, I'm talking about Writing a Synopsis and a Query Letter.
And of course, as we fine tune the two toothpicks, our forest is slowly smoldering around us. Because, you guessed it, our goal has shifted yet again. Some would argue our goal has evolved into a dream because you cannot force someone to like your writing--the exception here is loved ones, because we all have plots picked out for hiding their bodies if they should falter in their support of us. These same people would say that you cannot coerce an Agent to Represent You.
Right about here is where I laugh in the dreamer's faces, because yes you can coerce an agent to represent you! You just scaled Everest in ballet slippers AND you whittled a forest into two perfect toothpicks a Queen will enjoy until someone takes her head for said toothpicks. Drive and perseverance are a writer's methods of coercion.
Once a writer lands an agent, is where we lose almost all control over our goals and they mutate to dreams...and now a writer must lean on the all the goals they've accomplished, and let someone else determine the how and when their dreams of Being Published will come true.
Late October / Early November 2012, a friend of mine landed an agent. Said agent ensured her dreams came true a mere three to four weeks after signing her. She's currently living in a shell-shocked state, slowly blinking at her computer screen and coming to the realization that she has conquered her goals, grabbed her dreams with both hands, and now she simply has to Write.
Happy Reading. Happier Writing...in the New Year.