J.A. Konrath had an interesting post last week on whether you should self publish or not. He makes several interesting points about who and when you should self publish, heavily advocating for epubbing on that front. Good read, but what actually caught my attention was his statment about goals vs. dreams.
A goal is something within your power to achieve.
A dream is something that requires other people for you to achieve.
I thought this was a great distinction and one that many people don’t quite get. Writing is an often frustrating business. There are so many aspects that can frustrate along the path from germination of idea to production of a finished product (by which I mean a published book, not finished manuscript). I think this distinction between goals and dreams is a good one for helping us focus on those frustrations we actually have control over. Those would be the ones related to goals. Things that are within your power to achieve/control.
You can control your writing habits, sitting your butt in chair on a regular basis to get that novel finished. You can control whether you take your own writing aspirations as seriously as you take a more traditional paying job. You can control your own self-education regarding craft and story construction. You can control how thoroughly that book is edited and polished. You can control your synopsis, your query, who you send them to (in that you also control how thoroghly you research the submission requirements and what each agent is searching for). You can control your website or blog and all content that’s out there for the wide world to see. You can control how you use and behave on all the myriad of Web 2.0 social media sites. These are all things that are within your power, and they are all things that can affect the opinions of those other people that your dreams depend on.
So instead of griping about changes in the industry, flaws in the industry, bashing the taste of some agent or editor, or involving yourself on the latest kerfluffle out in Authorland, focus on those things you can control. Producing the best book you possibly can. It’s the best way to give those dreams a chance to come to fruition.