A blog about the amazing things teenagers do, about writing for teens, books for teens, and occasional forays into my world and the world of publishing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Are You Willing to Give Up to Follow Your Dreams?

First a guilty confession, once in a while, I read SlushPile Hell. For those of you who don't know, SlushPile Hell is a (self-proclaimed), grumpy literary agent who pulls out the worst queries from his slush pile, posts an excerpt from them (with no identifying features), and answers them. So when I ran across this post, it got me thinking:

Query excerpt:

I recently quit my job to become an author. As a result, I am happy to say that I now have a manuscript for your review.

Snarky Response:

Congratulations on an incredibly wise move! I always advise my new clients to immediately quit their day jobs and to go ahead and put down payments on Italian sports cars and villas in the South of France. Anything else is a negative, defeatist attitude that, quite frankly, makes me want to vomit.—Slushpile Hell

I think most of us get why quitting your job to be a writer might be a bad move, we understand that Stephanie Meyers or J.K. Rowling success is a HUGE rarity in this business. In fact, most of the published authors I know still have their day job.

Having said this, I refer to my previous post, “Do you have to be organized to write?” in which I said I was organizing my house so writing can be my “almost” full time job. I also said I was lucky that I can do this. And I am. No, we aren’t independently wealthy. Yes, I clip coupons and shop sales, and drive an eight-year-old suburban. With four kids and only one income there are definitely things we can’t afford. (We’ve never been to Hawaii.) And yes, I’ve considered the idea that I should take my college degree and start looking for a “real” job now that my kids are all in school. It might still happen.

For now, with the loving support of my husband, I’m devoting myself to my dream, but there are definitely sacrifices involved.

All of this, and the SlushPile Hell post has me thinking, What am I willing to sacrifice to fulfill my dream of being a writer? How about sleep? How about time? How about a family trip to Hawaii? How about, (and this is where it gets harder), time with my kids? And harder still, if I was working full time instead of writing, could I be putting money away for my kids’ education?

Then there’s my loving husband. He’s an awesome, artistic photographer. He took the photo for my cover. Check out his website here. But he’s relegated that dream to a hobby so he can support our family’s eating habit. In fact, he’s worked hard for all of our eighteen years of marriage, and most of that time I've been a full-time mom.

There are people can to do both, but not without sacrifices. I have one friend who wakes up at 4:00 am so he can write 800 words before he has to go to work, and then stays up after his family goes to bed so he can write 800 more words. I know of an illustrator who passed up a three figure job offer to continue his dream.

Ultimately, though, we only get one shot at life. My question for everyone out there, (not just the writers), is: What are you willing to sacrifice to see your dream come true? What is reasonable? What isn’t?

***NOTE: The picture at the top of this post was taken by my husband and copyrighted by him.***


  1. For me, there is absolutely nothing in the world that takes precedence over family. Not my writing, my schoolwork, my job, anything. Friends come in a very close second. But if an hour or two here or there has to be sacrificed so I can write, I'm definitely going to do that. But I will never, ever abandon the wonderful people in my life to Microsoft Word.

  2. Jennifer - This is a great post, and so close to home for most of us. I am advanced in my career, and have kids in college. I write for four hours every night and get up early on Saturday and Sunday to write. What do I sacrifice? Sleep, time and my exercise routine, but I also am dedicated to a strict schedule that ensures I stay hard at it. I firmly believe that my efforts will eventually pan out...and when I'm no longer paying college tuition? Who knows, maybe I can live on a lot less :-)

  3. A great thought provoking post..... I can really relate because I'm still plugging away after writing seriously for ten years. That's in between raising nine children. I actually started writing in 1990 and I feel the same as the earlier post...I won't sacrifice my family for writing. But I will sacrifice television and time wasters. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you pay attention to what you are doing.

  4. We pretty much sacrifice the things we don't really want anyway like eating out, going to the movies, taking fancy vacations (although a trip to the shore once a year is a MUST even if we have to camp on the sand!), new clothes, etc. I almost always buy everything used and yet still get complimented on my style all the time. I do believe most people are fooled into thinking they need cable and video games and new clothes to be happy. It's so liberating to realize that none of us need half of what we have. : }