That medicine tasted horrific.
But she was right.
My analyst has suggested that I needed to write this latest book for me—that there was all sorts of symbolic information in there that I needed to unpack, which is clearly the case. The novel was a necessary conversation with myself and maybe not one to which other people should be granted access.
What I wrote in the fall is a rough draft for something that I now feel will not only be more commercially viable, but also objectively better.
The alchemy of turning fantasy into reality is ego-challenging and unsexy work, which is why—particularly when it comes to novel and script writing—most people don't do it.
I've been writing full-time since 2004. That's almost twenty years and I still trip over the fantasy-to-reality conversion when it comes to my career. And I've seen more than a few seasoned writers struggle as well. It's the work.
I'm coming to believe that we need doses of both fantasy and reality. If we are lucky, we'll have kind wise people in our lives, people who will know when to puncture our fantasy bubbles and also when to let us take comfort in a bubble's wondrous—albeit ephemeral—iridescence.
I'm often approached—mostly via email and occasionally face-to-face—by people who want to share their fantasy of being a fiction writer and/or working in the movie business. I remember being on the other side of these conversations, when I was an unpublished writer dreaming big. I'd ask published writers for advice and mostly receive platitudes, which felt frustrating at the time—like there was a secret that nobody would tell me.
When we were MFA Creative Writing students, my friends and I would occasionally pressure our advisors for truth.
Are we good enough to make it as professional writers? Are our manuscripts accomplished enough to land us agents? Do we have what it takes?
Please be honest with us, we'd say.
Looking back now, I see how we were putting our advisors in a very difficult spot.
Of course, if we had what it took at the time, we would have already been publishing. We were in the MFA program to practice turning fantasies into realities, knowing full well that the majority of people graduating in the classes ahead of ours were not instantly landing fantastic book deals. And if the advisors thought we were fiction-writing geniuses, they would have surely shared that information with us already.
Sometimes the advisors would break down and hit us with some tough love, letting us know their true assessment of our talents, occasionally reducing some of us to tears. I remember a few particularly ugly moments. None of them were unprovoked. In each case, we had asked for it. Sometimes, we had even begged.