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A common feeling among family and friends outside of the writing, or most any art realm for that matter, is confusion. Why would anyone with all their marbles spend so much time and effort on something with no guarantee of a return? Why can't you be satisfied with a normal job like everyone else? Your support system sees you crushed as yet another novel finds its way into the 'trunk' and wonders why you continue to torture yourself with lofty dreams of seeing your name grace the cover of a book spine. At times, we even begin to question it ourselves. Life would certainly be easier if we aspired for something more attainable. Are those stolen hours of writing here and there taking away from our family? And the worst: are we being selfish for wanting more?

Enter the soul-sucking sensation of guilt.
Now put on the brakes.

When I was in first grade, they told me I could be president. Lucky for you citizens of the U.S.of A, I had no interest in that position. But I did have plenty of interest in being a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, and a short phase where I was convinced I was destined to be a Broadway sensation. And each and every time I changed my course, everyone cheered me on. The sky was the limit, etc. Not to go all guidance counselor, but we're supposed to dream big. So when did the rules change? At twenty-five? Thirty?

The truth is the rules haven't changed, only the players. Maybe you loathe your day job but needed the good insurance plan. Maybe you love your day job but wanted to add author to your resume. Either way, there's nothing wrong with still dreaming big. It doesn't make you irresponsible and it doesn't make you selfish. It makes you someone who refuses to settle for less than what they want from life.

There are, and will always be, the nay-sayers who like to pull our heads from the clouds and make us question if it's nothing more than a futile effort. Don't let them bring you down. In such an instance, you might borrow some words of wisdom Kristin Miller said in a Highway email thread discussion on this topic:

This is what I need to do and I will choose my own sacrifices because there is one life, it is short and I have to live it my way. 

 What do you/will you sacrifice to achieve your dream?

Amanda Hannah

Amanda grew up on a big farm in a small town with one stoplight, one school, and a handful of imaginary friends.She would’ve gone to college forever, but eight years and five majors tested her advisor’s patience. So she moved to Germany to explore creepy castles before landing in Spain where she’s perfecting her Flamenco.

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  1. Wow - really interesting and timely post! My husband and I were just talking about that.

    Right now, I am at a job that makes significantly more than my chosen $10-$15,000 more. He asked how much I would have to make here to give up on my dream job. I decided it would have to be an amount I would never make here because I feel a need to do what I want. I could stay here and we could be comfortable financially, but I know living my dream would make it all worth it.

  2. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    I would add: Don't let people guilt you just b/c you have it good. You can be grateful for what you have and still expect more of yourself and for yourself. I reject the idea that you should stop striving for achievement once you reach a certain level.

  3. Really great post. I think some people envision a point in life where you just need to "accept reality", but as fiction writers, we're just not wired that way. We are dreamers, every time we put our fingers to keyboard. What's also overlooked is the fact that we write because it's fulfilling. The alternative to giving up is to have so many ideas floating in your head with no outlet! Yes, we like to dream, but we also like the satisfaction of seeing those ideas on paper. That's what writing is all about, no matter the successes or failures.

  4. It took me almost 38 years to figure out that you only get one life, so why the hell should I let other people dictate how I live mine.

    And I think when it comes right down to it, chasing your dreams simply makes other people uncomfortable.

    If they watch you follow that road less traveled, the very one they may have detoured past on their way to a surer thing, they might realize that somewhere along the line, they gave up on their dream. And it makes them regret, and in turn, be less supportive. Why should yours come true when theirs didn't.

    It's sort of sad in a way.

    Everyone has a choice. I am so glad that this group of amazingly talented women think the same way I do. It's a lot easier to chase those dreams when you have people right there with you cheering you on. Everyone deserves a chance to realize their dream, whatever it may be.

    I wish everyone had that.

  5. Aw, that's a really lovely post and lovely sentiment. I quit my day job in June to pour myself into the launch of my debut novel. I don't know whether I'll be able to stay away from having a day job, but I've got the satisfaction right now of knowing I pursued the dream. Thanks for a little boost of inspiration!


    Delcroix Academy: The Candidates (Disney-Hyperion 2010)

  6. Such an excellent post. And something I really needed today. Thank you.

  7. I often feel very guilty of the time writing takes away from my husband and three children. But then my husband reminds me that I'm teaching them a valuable lesson about continuing to dream and grow and try to achieve.

    And they have no doubt that all that work will pay off. Which keeps me inspired in the down times.

  8. Love this! Have nothing else to say that hasn't already been said.

  9. I sacrifice a lot of sleep and time I could be (should be?) spending on improving my relationship. I get off easy because I can use the excuse "I'm young! It's my time to follow my dreams." But honestly, if I need to be, I'll be making the same sacrifices when I'm 80.

    Great post!

  10. Such a great post! I've spent a lot of time following my dreams, and I couldn't be happier for it. I was on the end of a lot of guilting (often untintenional, expressed as surprise) because I chose to spend a lot of my income on travel. Didn't I want to save, focus on the mortgage, settle down? I don't regret a moment of it! I also spend time on my writing, and it fits around a job I'm lucky enough to adore, and that requires sacrifices too. But as you've all said, I choose my own, and the one thing I'm sure of is that I've never regretted doing so.

  11. To write, one must sacrifice. That's all there is to it. The thing is, we all have to choose what we will sacrifice and what we won't. Then don't let your writing take over those things you're not willing to sacrifice.

  12. Amazing post, A. And for what it's worth, I totally think you can still be a Broadway star.

  13. I watched Hustle and Flow with my neighbours last night. One of the lines is: Everybody gotta have a dream.

    For those people who can do practicality, great for them. I can't do things I'm not interested in. Never have, probably never will.

    The writers life for me!

  14. "It makes you someone who refuses to settle for less than what they want from life."

    I am speechless. That, and that amazing Kristin Miller quote at the end gave me chills.

    Thank you. I really really really needed this today.


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Item Reviewed: Sacrifices Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amanda Hannah