You know when people ask authors, “Did you ever imagine that your book would become this successful?” and they make some modest comment about how never in their wildest dreams had they sold out their first print run and how they’re just amazed people like their work?
Expected that their book would be a bestseller, no. Imagined, yes. Or at least, if their brains work anything like mine.
You get to the end of your first draft and you’ve been writing it for a while, and you’ve finally finished this thing. You’re proud of yourself. You’ve got every right to be proud of yourself. Even a newbie probably has some idea, however, that it needs work. Redrafts. Beta readers. But dude, you just finished a book. And when it’s finished, everyone’s going to love it.
Maybe you’re not at the first-draft stage. Maybe you’re like me and it was an eighth draft. Everybody, you’re sure, is going to think it’s great. They’ve only read the first half a page, but whatever. They’re going to love it. Two and a half years of your life have gone into writing it and editing it and researching it and editing it some more, and if people don’t like it then they have bad taste.
And you’re still looking for an agent three months later. And you still haven’t won any competitions. And you’re frantically hunting for a day job because you’re completely skint and pretty soon you’re going to starve to death.
But you imagine.
You imagine the day when the agent will find your work and there’ll be a massive bidding war and you’ll get an advance to rival even the bestsellers. You imagine walking into a bookshop and they don’t have your book because the third print run sold out in three days. You imagine the fame and the riches and the film adaptations (though in truth, you dread those slightly, in case they don’t get a cute guy to play your lead).
You imagine all that.
You don’t expect it. There’s a voice in your head that says this’ll never happen. But there’s another voice that says but it might.
I imagine that on a daily basis. I’m currently polishing an eighth draft and compiling lists of agents to query when I get a spare moment and some more feedback from my beta readers. I’m also attacking a third draft simultaneously, and planning a first draft, and also working out how to finish a second draft I started earlier in the year (or trying to do so, anyway).
Admittedly, I’ve got a bit of time. I’m still in school. I can do all this later. (Hopefully.)
But I like to feed biscuits to the little voice that says but it might. I like to put fuel on that fire. I like the little voice to feel like I’m listening to it.
You imagined it, and it might happen. After all, you imagined your book too, and that might happen.
The realistic voice is good for when your ego gets too large, but the hopeful voice is nice when you’re still editing after two and a half years. Take it from me.