I was talking to my amazing friend, Kristen, last week. It was her birthday. (Happy birthday!) We started talking about what you do when your dreams and wishes come come true.
We all know what it's like before that moment. I'll use my first book as an example. I've wanted to be an author since I was 6 years old. I was discouraged because it wasn't a secure and steady job, so I didn't pursue it in earnest until I was 40.
I know what disappointment in regard to dreams is like - it got turned down twice before it was accepted (and I rewrote half of it)
I know what it is to have that moment when the wish comes true. Barbara Moore called me as I was driving home from work and I started crying and had to pull over. I then called my husband and cried all over him. Then we got sushi to celebrate.
After that, though? What is it to have a dream come true?
When the book happened, I didn't expect the time that it would take. The manuscript was accepted, it sat quiet for a few months, it got a release date, then I got a huge batch of edits and a definite release date. So it went from start, to pause, to fast forward, to stop. It was bananas. Then the book came out, and I'd lived in each stage of its creation for so long, that every stage felt like the New Normal. I was stressed over my book. I was working on my book. My book vanished. My book reappeared. I worried about my book, then it was complete.
SO - I got my wish. I'm an author. What has changed in my life?
- I find I am marginally famous. I joke that I'm on the sidewalk of famous street. This doesn't mean that I'm rolling in money and got to quit my day job. I wrote a successful book in a niche market for a niche group. That's not retirement fodder. What it means is that I walked into a tarot conference and heard someone say "Omg that's Little Fox" in the same way that I'd reacted when I saw Rachel Pollack and Mary Greer. OMG! That was weird, flattering, unsettling and had me wishing that I had checked my teeth for food. It means that I get lovely emails thanking me for the book, and emails from dudes who try to mansplain tarot readings to me. I had one creepy stalker fellow who said he knew my exact address. I have had new opportunities, more confidence and certainty that I can keep doing this. I can write. That's the biggest thing.
- I am so grateful. I mean, I am SO grateful. I found out that Kitchen Table Tarot had gone into a fourth printing and immediately lit a candle in my altar and said a prayer of gratitude. I am so grateful that I got to do the thing. That my thoughts didn't remain a blog. That my husband took care of our house so I could write. That my friend, Sarah Kate, let me use her house as a writer's retreat and made me food. That I had the privilege and opportunity to write. I am so grateful. Thank you. More please.
- I am so confident. I touched on this in #1, but it's probably the biggest shift since this dream came true. I stood at the Llewellyn booth at the American Library Association conference, and signed books. The line wrapped around the corner and we ran out of books and had to hand out signed bookmarks. That's not nothin'. I was on the same floor as Maggie Stiefvater (who is one of my heroes) and I felt like I belonged there. That was amazing. And I'm learning to OWN my confidence. Women in this country are so beaten down in regards to self-confidence. Don't be loud, don't be proud, be nice, use your manners, don't boast. Honestly? Fuck that. I worked really hard for my dream. I worked 40 hours a week and did readings on evenings and weekends, and when I wasn't doing that or raising my kids, I was writing. I wrote until 3am. Some nights I wrote all night. I learned how to promote myself on social media - still learning - but I'm making things happen with my dream. I'm active. I'm not sitting on it. I've already finished my second book and am working on two tarot decks and another book. The dream come true isn't finished yet.
- The Fraud Police - these guys live in my head, and come out every time I start getting any amount of confidence in myself and my skills. They say things like, "It was a fluke", "They're just being nice", "Your book sucks", "I can't believe you think you'll do another reading". They used to come out EVERY time I did a reading and said that I was going to fail, and my client would jump up and point at me, "J'ACCUSE!". It was always in french. Now? They're still around. I just ignore them. It's honestly that easy. It might take me a day or so to ignore them - those voices use my voice, you know - but I ignore them. The Fraud police are manifestations of every single time I've been underestimated in my life. They're every time I've heard no, or been shot down. They show up, I ignore them, and they get weaker over time.
We all know what it is to have 'a dream deferred'. We all have lost a thing, but what is it to accomplish, to own, to enjoy?
The four steps as I see them are these.
- Realign your perspective. Each new thing that we add to us shifts our viewpoint on everything - everything. I constantly ask my friends if this book is turning me into an asshole, and they said they'll let me know. I have a very clear idea of what this writing thing means for my family and for me, and that's because I have figured out who I am NOW.
- Gratitude - throw that stuff around like confetti. I answer every email and letter that I get. Every one that isn't bananas, that is. (safety first) I make space for people to ask questions and stay available to people who have found the book. I say thank you every day. The three steps of gratitude according to Limitless Megan? Thank you. I am grateful. More please. :)
- Own your success. Own it. Wear it. Swim around in it til your fingers get all pruney. Don't let anyone - ANYONE - dim this for you. You need to shine. You also REALLY need at least three people that you trust to tell you when you're being an asshole. It's important.
- Tell the Fraud Police to suck it and do your work anyway.
So, what happens when dreams come true? Magic.
And the Nine of Cups.