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Does Changing Dreams Equal Failure?

I recently went to the graduation of a good friend’s daughter. Something about her Salutatorian speech has stuck with me: don’t be afraid to change your dreams. This is why I love teaching. Every now and then, teenagers will have a moment of brilliance that makes me stop and think. Her statement was one of those times. 

For the past ten years, I have been working toward one goal: make a living as a writer. When I started, that meant getting a traditional publisher. So, as I have progressed, this is my goal. I query agents. I query publishing houses. I read rejection letter after rejection letter and believe that my time will soon come. I just have to be patient. If you have been following this blog, you will know I discuss a lot about what it means to be successful. As I solidify myself in the world of adulthood, I find my teenage fantasies are slowly becoming more realistic. But, while my definition of success has changed, the goal has not. 

Today’s publishing world is filled with more paths than I have ever seen before (and I am still a youngster as far as experiences go). There’s the same self-published and traditional route. But then there’s the print-on-demand route, which seems to be the black sheep in between. But, recently, self-published has branched into the straight to e-book author. And the traditional route has split into smaller houses, or even independent publishers. Depending on the group of writers, one route is held above another, but it’s all subjective. 

What I found myself debating this week was what it means to change a dream. Does that mean giving up? I used to criticize my brother for giving up his dream of being a graphic designer at Sports Illustrated Magazine. In college, he would post motivational phrases on the mirror to help drive his decisions. Then, he turned thirty. I asked him if he was still searching for Sports Illustrated and he said no. He decided the management area is more of what he wanted. At the time, I thought he was giving up and accepting something else. But now, I wonder if he just changed his dream—and if that’s okay.

Because I’m analytical in my pursuits, I also wonder how switching publishing paths would relate. Is choosing another path giving up on a dream? Or is it adapting, changing the dream to suit a better purpose. After all, isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results? We talk about timing and luck, but does the time come when one must try a different strategy? I still believe in my ability and want to publish. So am I truly selling out if I switch paths? Could switching either lead to the original goal in a different way or, perhaps, lead to something better? I have no answers for you today, maybe in a few weeks. Just thoughts to ponder right now.