I have had the pleasure and honor to be longlisted for Novel Fair 2018 organized by the Irish Writers Centre. This means that my entry—the first 10 000 words of my fantasy trilogy Illumination—was among the top 10 % of nearly 250 submissions. And I’ll get my work critiqued. I won’t deny it, this feels good.
I also won’t deny that I spent the two weeks after January 19th in a state of mild disenchantment despite my best efforts to rise above it. By January 19th, all finalists, who would get to attend the Novel Fair, would have been already contacted. As this fateful date approached, I came closer and closer to the realization that I was not among the selectees. This, of course, was not wholly unexpected. And yet, and yet…
The email with the happy news turned my spirits around of course, and the contrast between my feelings before and after got me thinking. It’s so easy for a writer to get hung-up on all the little strings of hope that each submission and each query letter is tethered to, and forget the day-to-day pleasures of the craft or life in general.
In 2016, after years of hesitation, I let my dream of writing set me free from a life of discontent in my previous profession. But now, I realize that even what I love can become a trap if I don’t keep my head on my shoulders.
The reason why I want to make a living as a writer is that writing itself brings me pleasure, and not only the prospect of getting published or being read by many. Even if no success comes my way, even if I have to find another day job later, I will never stop writing. If we didn’t live in a world governed by money, I would have never called writing my profession because it is much more than that. It is my calling.
But we all have the power to turn hell into heaven and heaven into hell. When I sent my Novel Fair application, and January loomed closer and closer, I momentarily forgot how much I love the walk and could only focus on the destination. I think many fall into this trap and end up hating what liberated them as much as what they had been liberated from.
There is a choice to be made here: do we let our dreams rule us, or do we use the potency behind our aspirations to find freedom? Freedom that we can enjoy here and now and not when yet another dream comes true.