So you want to write a book? Or maybe you don’t, but I’m willing to bet you have a dream of some sort. One of my favorite movies is Disney’s Tangled. Remember the scene in Tangled where Flynn and Rapunzel stumble into a seedy tavern, and Rapunzel wins the thugs over by telling them her dream? They all have dreams too—even the world-weary Flynn Rider has a dream.
I had a dream about fifteen years ago. My dream was to publish a romance novel. Crazy, right? I was an English teacher, not a writer. I’d never even taken a creative writing class. I’d read quite a few romance novels, but did that make me qualified to write one? On top of all that, I was in a failing relationship that wasn’t exactly the stuff that inspires romantic prose.
But you know what? I wrote a book anyway. And after years of learning my craft and polishing that book, I sold it. I sold a lot more too and am still selling books, and it never gets old—walking into a bookstore and seeing my book on the shelf.
I don’t think there’s anything that tests us more as women than becoming a mother. I know the birth of my daughter made me question everything, including whether or not I could, or even wanted to, keep writing. In those newborn days, I felt incredibly guilty leaving my daughter so I could write. But I had a book due. What other choice did I have? I couldn’t default on the contract, even if it meant writing instead of sleeping or writing while my daughter slept in a sling across my chest.
I made it work, and it might surprise you to know now that she’s four, I still question whether I should keep writing. Because when you have a dream, you have to make sacrifices to achieve it. Think back to Tangled. Flynn had to give up his dream of being rich because he found one he wanted more. And to keep that dream alive, he had to ruin his only chance of salvation. Sacrifices go hand-in-hand with dreams.
I’m still sacrificing. I wake up at 4 a.m. to write. I work until 10 at night. I operate on 6 hours of sleep and a lot of caffeine. I have to leave my daughter two weeks out of the year to attend conferences. I have to leave her more nights than I’d like to speak or attend book signings.
And yet, for all of the guilt, there’s something else that keeps me writing. I am more than a mother. I am a woman, a person, with hopes and dreams and a life outside of my child. As a role model for my daughter, I’m the best person to show her that women can do anything. We can be mothers, lawyers, astronauts, even writers. I think it’s good for our kids to see that we are people and have a role in life outside of raising them. It’s good to show kids that they too can dream.
This week is Valentine’s Day, and here’s some advice from a romance author. This Valentine’s Day, love yourself. Think about what your dream is, valentine, and how you can achieve it. Strange advice coming from a romance author? Not at all. Romance novels are all about heroines finding out who they really are and falling in love with themselves as well as the hero.
So tell us, what’s your dream?
Today’s giveaway: Tell us your dream…and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Shana’s new book, that releases on March 4… Sapphires are An Earl’s Best Friend)