Walking the Tightrope

Last week I was corresponding with a client whose book contains a message that’s fairly edgy and in some ways, counter-cultural. He knows I totally believe in him and his book, but in this one particular email I used some cautious language. I told him we were “walking a tricky line” trying to find the right publisher for the book—one who was both liberal enough for the subject matter, yet not objecting to the underlying Christian message. (Can’t say any more about it right now, sorry.)

My client wrote back with a gentle reminder to let go of the fear of failure, and to stop thinking small.

He had a good point. I don’t think small. If I were thinking small, I wouldn’t take on a book that’s somewhat risky and definitely challenging—for me, as well as for his eventual readers. I’m thinking this book could be huge, and could definitely change lives. That’s why I took it on. So I appreciated the reminder to keep thinking big and not worry about failing.

And yet…

As I wrote a couple of years ago in my post Manage Your Expectations, I think it’s crucially important that we all keep our expectations somewhat in line with reality. It’s easy to get caught up in Stephenie Meyer dreams, which can lead to disappointment when your book deal isn’t as huge as you’d like, and your advance won’t buy you a new house. So I’m always advising writers to be optimistic, yet realistic.

It’s a tightrope, isn’t it? Trying to balance realistic expectations with big dreams? Yet somehow, we all need to walk it.

Q4U: How do you manage your expectations, yet “think big” about your project? How do you hold fast to your belief, yet not allow it to cripple you in the event the reality is not quite as big as your dream?

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Andrew A. Sailer on March 25, 2012 at 12:40 PM

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  2. Clara W on March 8, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    >For me, it´s as if riding a kite actually. Keep your focus in the sky but the feet on the ground.


  3. Caleb on February 25, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    >Don't dream so big, they say. You'll be disappointed. Ha! What do they know? Disappointment, I can take. Not dreaming big? Now that would kill me.

  4. Kathryn Magendie on February 24, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    >My naivety soon gave way to reality *smiling* – but, I am still willing to take some risks; however, it's difficult for my publishers to take risks – risks can spell: money. And as hard as it is for us to internalize, this is also about Business.

    I have learned to enjoy all the little moments and know that no matter if my novel(s) are considered a success by some, they ARE a success to me, because I did it… 🙂

  5. D J Futers on February 24, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    >This is a 'discussion' that my wife and I have all the time. It is a tricky tightrope to walk. My wife is a great woman of faith and believes wholeheartedly in God's ability to 'bless our socks off' if we risk big and trust Him. I believe that too, but I am a calculated risk taker. I like to know what the risks are, think things through, count the cost, yada, yada, yada.

    Somtimes though, I think that my approach can be just as 'risky' as the one on the other end of the spectrum. I am a busy pastor who has always had it in my heart to write, and yet I can always come up with a lot of reasons why I don't have the time to write, why it's taking me so long to finish my book, why I might just forget the whole thing…I am starting to believe that I have been self-sabotaging all this time. My issue won't be dreaming too big. It will be being too realistic, if that's possible. This could be why I've never been published, along with the fact that I've never submitted anything.

    Maybe I need to just trust God and go for it. I need to take the risk…to get out of the boat…to step out in faith. I preach this stuff all the time. So why can't I do it?

  6. katdish on February 24, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    >I tend to agree with your client.

  7. Glenn Sasscer on February 24, 2010 at 8:04 AM

    >Hi Rachelle;

    The underlying question to your question is are we doing what God wants us to do? Are we acting within His purpose for us? If this is the case, walking the tightrope is easy when He is our balance. If He is truly guiding us, then He is in control of the project results, no matter how big (or little).


  8. wendy on February 24, 2010 at 1:45 AM

    >I like to think I'm talking to God in my imagination. Imagination, I think as I can't claim any more reality to these conversations than my own wishful thinking.
    Anyway, in my imagination God suggests that I self-publish the work I've lovingly written and fine-tuned for the last ten years as an ebook over the internet. So even my imagination, or God, doesn't have big dreams for this project…although I always hoped for more. However if the story can bring joy to just a few, then it would be great.

  9. Mechelle Fogelsong on February 23, 2010 at 11:19 PM

    >I paid off my house last month. So now getting published is about making a positive impact before I visit the great publishing house in the sky. It's not about getting rich.

  10. Mary Hampton on February 23, 2010 at 10:34 PM

    >I was at a writer's conference this weekend and had the chance to catch up with several well-published friends. I listened to their realities and then to the hopes and dreams of the aspiring writers there. My fear is we do a disservice to a number of aspiring writers by not giving them a dose of reality to temper the dreams and give them a shot of coming close to their expectations.

    I don't see a conflict between being realistic and 'dreaming big dreams.' I don't at all believe that dwelling in reality is putting limits on what God may do.

    From beginning to end, every project belongs to Him to begin with. Whether/when it sells, to whom, how 'big' it is after that is all in His hands. My job is to do the very best I can with my part. I trust my agent to do his best with with his part. And God will use it all together to His glory as He's planned. (That's a lesson learned the hard way, btw.)

    I hope that doesn't sound hyper-spiritual, because it isn't at all intended to be. Dreams are good, but I've seen too many writers burnt-out, discouraged and 'done' because their expectations didn't line up with reality.

    I think it's a shame when people can't appreciate a God-given, genuinely blessed reality because their 'dreams' weren't what He had planned. I think satisfaction comes when our reality lands close to our expectations. (And I don't think an agent would be doing the best job for his/her client if they didn't encourage the dreams while offering a reality check at the same time–whether we want to hear it or not!)

  11. Clarissa Yip on February 23, 2010 at 10:09 PM

    >I think it's all on perspective and how far along you are on your journey to being where you are. Some people write small, dream small, some people write big and dream big. It's what you want out of writing and whether or not it's meant to be a career or a hobby.

    I want to be a lot of things: a writer, a business owner, a counselor and even maybe the next president.

    Writing to me is a release of expression, the chance to share what's in my head and craft stories of different places that I want to go to. My biggest dream is to be one day internationally known, but it's not for the money. I just take joy in the idea of seeing my work published in different languages. I'm a big linguist in the sense that I specialize in Asian languages. Cultures impact whether or not a book will fit in with their people.

    I think the big thing about if you dream big, then you should know there are ups and downs. It's how you handle them as a writer and grow with everything.

    Great blog. It made me remember why I started writing in the first place.

  12. patriciazell on February 23, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    >I also am writing a book that has a unique perspective. I've realized that no one will contract it without it being written and without some proven interest in my content. So, I'm writing my book on my blog. So, in a sense, I've already fulfilled part of my dream–by the time I finish my book in early summer, I will have accomplished something I have never done before. Whether the book goes on to print form, only God knows.

  13. laura_josephsen on February 23, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    >My co-author and I have two books under publishing contract, and I still ask myself this question sometimes. I've been thinking about it a lot recently as I've begun seeking an agent to represent my latest novel. The thing I remind myself of is that I don't write for the big bucks. I don't write to become the next big author. I write because I believe in a story. I write because the characters claw at the inside of my brain until I have to tell their tales. I write because I have something to tell, and because I believe that something in my books might touch the lives of someone who reads them. Maybe someone who is experiencing something similar will be able to relate and find some light or hope in their own life. If something I write can help or touch someone that way, then that's what I consider hitting it big.

    Ultimately, there are realistic expectations. I realize that publication is a business, and that maybe in this business, there will be no merit seen in my book. Or maybe there will be one person who reads it and says 'yes, I think this book is worth publishing.' Either way, I believe in the story, and in the end, I know I couldn't have kept it quiet. The characters were far too demanding to get out onto the page. That's how I take every story I write. Whether I'm doing it with the goal of getting it published or not, I write what's in my heart.

    It's good for authors to write what they need to write, what they dream of writing. Without dreaming, we'd have no stories to tell in the first place. However, as authors, we also need to realize that there are realistic expectations in the business world of publishing. And for me, I have faith that if God has a place for my next book, it will get into the right hands at the right time. In the meantime, I'll keep working on my next novel and preparing for the publication of my co-written books.

    As someone else mentioned, I imagine it must be hard as an agent to sort through the stacks of potential stories and decide what to take on at that moment. I remember reading an interview with one agent who said that the thing she hated most was having to reject authors. I can only imagine how hard that would be. As the author, it really doesn't bother me when I get a rejection letter, because I know then that it's just not the right agent/publisher for that story, so I shrug and move onto whatever is next. I don't think I'd make it as the agent, though. 😉

    Very interesting discussion topic! It's been great to read other thoughts on it.

  14. Journaling Woman on February 23, 2010 at 6:54 PM

    >I try to stay opened minded without compromising myself. That's all.

  15. Matilda McCloud on February 23, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    >This a tough one for me. Sometimes it's too easy to fall into the "dream big" thing and lose sight of all the hard steps along the way, and so set oneself up for disappointment…With my current WIP, I'm not so much "dreaming big," but I'm pushing myself to "write big," to take more risks, not to self-censor etc. Kind of like those ice dancers last night–the ones who took the biggest risks and weren't dancing by numbers won. They are my inspiration this week.

  16. Tawna Fenske on February 23, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    >Sarah, I love the quote about hoping for the best but planning for the worst.

    This is a great topic, and Rachelle definitely hit the nail on the head about it being a delicate balancing act.

    On one hand, I've learned not to get make plans based on the fantasy that my wonderful agent will sell my debut novel for billions to hoards of adoring fans.

    On the other hand, the fantasies are what keep me going!

    I guess I just try to keep my sights set somewhere in the middle.

    Thanks for sparking such a fun discussion, Rachelle!


  17. Brandi Schmidt on February 23, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    >I dream BIG! I always have. I have faith that it can be done through him and with him. I was given my entire novel in an instant. There is only one explanation for that and it's certianly not because I am that great, it's because HE is that great.

    I try to remember everything happens on his time not mine. That can be very dificult!

  18. Lynnda - Passionate for the Glory of God on February 23, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    >When my sister read the second draft of my manuscript, she said, "You ought to have this book published!" Seven years later, as I begin to share with her all the things I was learning about being publishing, she said, "Wow, there's a lot more to this publishing business than I thought there was."

    I think the difference between those two comments is also the distance between the dream and the reality. When you can hold on to the dream even when you learn how far you must go before it has any chance of coming true, then life takes on the qualities of hope, perserverance, and peace. It's the ability to cherish every part of the trip that makes it a joy in the making rather than enjoying only the fulfillment of the dream. Otherwise, when the dream is fulfilled we can hear the echo in our heads, "Is that all there is?…"

    Be blessed,


  19. Amy Sorrells on February 23, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    >Funny you should mention this today, as I work on a blog post touching on how–at age six–I insisted to anyone who would listen I was "the next Dorothy Hamill." Oh, I had the haircut, to be sure. But I couldn't get past Level 2 in lessons. (Let's just say you pass Level 2 if you learn how to stop.) Finding the balance between dreaming big and focusing on where you are is a life-long challenge. I can't say I'm any more aware of that balance now, some 30 years later, than I was then. I suppose the difference is I'm not as afraid to fall as I "go for Level 3," or 4, etc. No one masters a triple toe-loop without falling. And dreaming. Both.

  20. T. Anne on February 23, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    >I don't think I could say it any better than Anne L.B. I really believe the victory is all His to do with whatever He wishes.

    I'm curious about your clients book. I LOVE books that have realistic world views with Christian underpinnings. That's exactly how I write. I'm not trying to be edgy. It just so happens we live in an edgy world. I love to pick up a book and feel like I'm reading honest words.

  21. Mira on February 23, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    >Rachelle – wow, I'll ride high on that for a week! And here I was nervous about posting that. Thanks! 🙂

    E-mail pending. 🙂

  22. Chantal on February 23, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    >I guess I keep my hopes realistic by setting the bar low. And I don't mean that in a bad way, I just mean that I'd rather acheive a goal (any goal, like say getting an agent) than have a huge expectation and never be able to get there (Stephanie Meyers dreams). If I set smaller goals, then there's not as much to worry about and maybe I'll be surprised if there is a bigger accomplishment down the road.

  23. Shawn Smucker on February 23, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    >I think that if you, as an agent, decide to take on someone's book (such as the one you describe), it would probably be best for you to offer your suggestions, as you have, but in the end to embrace whatever it is that is edgy that the author wants to hang on to.

    Either that or tell him you're not the right agent for the project.

    The author makes the same decisions, hearing your input and suggestions and opinions on his work and its sellability and then making the call.

    I guess at some point all of us will be asked to change something about our work, whether it is the placing of a period or the elimination of a particular theme. The presentation of these decisions should not be offensive to us or our art. They are simply decisions that have to be made.

  24. Rosslyn Elliott on February 23, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    >Another realist here.

    Spending my early twenties in theater/film circles taught me a few lessons about why people sometimes want to make it big, and what that can mean for the soul.

    I started a writing career because I wanted to help people, just as I have been helped throughout my life by inspiring stories.

    If my novels sell very well, I will be happy because they have reached a large number of readers who may find in them comfort or courage. Dreaming big is OK, but it's what drives the dream that matters.

    The glamour professions (acting, writing, fashion, etc.) are riddled with spiritual landmines for the unwary. I pray often that I will always want people to read my novels for the right reasons.

  25. Rachelle on February 23, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    >Mira, great point! Could you email me? I think I feel a blog post coming on… based on your comment.

  26. Jen Parsons www.theevolvinghomemaker.com on February 23, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    >So far, in my early writing career, I am trying to take the road of non-attachment to outcome. It isn't always easy of course, but it seems a lot easier to hit submit on an article and then move on to the next project in my mind and leave that project behind. Of course until the edits come!

    I imagine it is harder with a book, a lot more time and energy put into it, but I do feel God will open the right doors when they are right for us to walk through, all expectations aside.


  27. Mira on February 23, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    >Oh, I have one more thing to add – because I started with the agent's perspective and then just went off into the writer's.

    I'm guessing that probably the hardest part of an agent's job is that they have to disappoint people constantly.

    I hope this doesn't seem presumptuous, because I'm not an agent, but I wonder if an agent has to get really good at saying to themselves: I am only one small part of any writer's journey.

    If I have to disappoint an author, this doesn't mean the author failed to manifest their dream, it just didn't manifest right now, with me.

    Which is okay. Being a part of someone's path – it's hard to see the long picture.

    But then, that's the agent's path. 🙂

  28. Bethany on February 23, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    >I think it's unfortunate that people ingest the mantra: Be realistic. Absolutely no one but God knows what's a realistic expectation for another. (Insert 2000 additional words on the topic.)

  29. Nicole (the other one) on February 23, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    >It's all about God. Some of my big dreams have been realized, some not. I think the ones God had for me got done. The others were of my own making, and no matter how much I wanted them, He knew they were not His choice because no doubt they would contribute to my spiritual demise.
    If the Lord initiates the dream, it's worthy of our complete determination. If it's of the flesh, bag it as soon as you realize it's not His for you. Otherwise you might achieve it but to what end?
    I'm with Mike Dellosso and a few of the others who placed the focus on God's dream for us.

  30. Mark Young on February 23, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    >No matter where we are on this writing path, dreams and faith in God are sometimes all we have to hold onto. I can only view this tightrope from a position of a writer struggling to make it into the publishing world.

    Year after year, we “aspiring authors” put words down on paper, wrestling to make the next sentence better than the last. And once that project is ended, turning to the blank page and starting all over again. All the while, we glance at our e-mail or open up the snail mail to see what the postman’s delivered.

    It is in these times of waiting I feel closer to God, knowing that everything is in His hands and in His time. I can take my disappointment and fears to Him and do what I feel God’s gifted me to do—to live for Him and to write the best story I can. This makes the waiting and struggle less painful. And someday, Lord willing, our realistic expectations will be fulfilled

  31. Sarah on February 23, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    >There's a saying I heard while my husband was serving in the military- Plan for the worst but hope for the best. When I think about it, that has flowed over into my writing life as well. I write because I love to write and because I believe in the power of the craft. I don't depend on it though in planning out my finances our my future. If something happens with my writing it would be a beautiful unexpected gift and one that I would welcome. I dream and I hope and I would love for something of mine to be published, but know this is a tough business to enter into so don't depend on that happening.

  32. Tea With Tiffany on February 23, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    >I'm learning I am more of a dreamer than a doer. So my challenge is to put action to my dreaming. 🙂 Enough said…

  33. Erica Vetsch on February 23, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    >Katie answered as I would. I tend to be a realist. Debbie Macomber's address to us, encouraging us to think big, made me so uncomfortable, while at the same time opening up so many possibilities.

  34. mikedellosso on February 23, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    >As an author of three books now, there's a part of me waiting for that "breakout moment" but I think I'm grounded enough to know it may never come. It doesn't for everyone. I try to keep my head in the clouds, aiming and shooting and praying for that one book that will put me on the map, but my feet on the ground, totally satisfied if my books only impact one person and change one life. I have to keep reminding myself 1) who gave me the ability and opportunity to write, and 2) why I write. It's easy to get stars in your eyes . . . but thank God for the dust on your feet, too.

  35. Mira on February 23, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    >I loved reading the comments here, and Jason, I thought yours was especially well-spoken.

    This is a VERY interesting post, Rachelle.

    I think an agent walks a difficult tight-rope. I think if I were an agent, I'd want my clients to be realistic. I wouldn't want to set them up for disappointment. Also, I wouldn't want them to be angry or upset with me because reality didn't meet their expectations.

    On the other hand, in my life, I always support people's dreams. It's important not to limit ourselves. Who knows what we're capable of? I believe that dreams are our connection to the divine, and, as such, they should be respected and nurtured.

    As for disappointment – well, so? It's just a bump in the road. It just means a dream isn't ready to come to fruition. Maybe it's the next book, or the next lifetime (if you believe in that, like I do.) Or maybe a dream needs to shift alittle – maybe the dreamer is slightly off track, and disappointment tells them: No, not that direction – this direction.

    Sometimes it's the pursuit of the dream that really counts anyway.

    But I think the saddest thing isn't a disappointed dream, it's a dream that was lost, cut down to size or forsaken.

    So, I say, dream HUGE. Dream ENOURMOUS. Dream big, dream tall, dream wide, dream deep, dream, dream, dream, dream, dream, dream, dream, dream, dream.


  36. Linda G. on February 23, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    >I dream big–that's what dreams are for–but I keep my expectations on the way to achieving the dream reasonable. Each milestone I pass along the way (finishing a book, finishing a second, finding my agent) has been cause for celebration and profound appreciation.

    Would I love to make it to the NYT Bestseller List? You betcha. But that doesn't mean I can't be happy with what I have now. Even if that's all there ever is. 🙂

  37. Cassandra Frear on February 23, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    >I don't go into a bookstore and place my hand where my book might be one day, as other writers have said that they do. I don't envision tens of thousands of readers. This would be regarding myself more highly than I should. At this point, I am an apprentice of a craft. That is all.

    I must love the work itself. I must find my purpose in it and my joy in it and my life with God in it. If this isn't enough, I need to examine myself.

    Why? Because the work is what I have been given. It is my "now." All the rest is unknown. That I will write for a few people is clear. I am doing that already. Will I write for more? I'm open to the possibility, but neither God nor publisher has promised it.

  38. Becky Johnson on February 23, 2010 at 10:15 AM

    >About 1/2 through my writing career, I lowered my expectations to, "I will have fun writing. I'll consider whatever I get for my advance, all I'll ever get and anything else is gravy. I'll see this as a great job & relax with the outcome." At that point I began loving my career again. Stopped checking sales figures except when they came in the mail. Stopped comparing my book to others and focused on the people who wrote me and were encouraged by my writing. For me, this was the path to freedom and actually enjoying my writing life again.

  39. Timothy Fish on February 23, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    >As the old saying goes, Wish in one hand, spit in the other and see which gets full first.

  40. Marla Taviano on February 23, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    >When praying about my current project, I say, "God, may this book be everything YOU want it to be." I'm not going to limit him to my puny dreams for the thing.

    When we decided to go to 52 Zoos in 52 Weeks, that seemed like a pretty big (and slightly ridiculous) dream. But what GOD did with the adventure was BEYOND big.

  41. Joyce on February 23, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    >Hitting the big time scares the heck out of me! But in all honesty I have certainly had my share of Oprahesque fantasies but I truly believe that if something on the level of a Rowling happened to me that success would damage me. There is something motivating, invigorating and deeply satisfying to NEED to write because, well I am a writer and NEEDING to write because of financial concerns.

  42. Jason on February 23, 2010 at 9:04 AM

    >I love thinking big. Disappointment is a necessary part of life. It's not something that we should try to avoid, but something that we should seek to learn from. I think the people who are truly successful aren't the people who have successfully avoided disappointment, but the ones who manage disappointment and use it to get to where they want to be.

    Maybe I'll never get a book published, and that would certainly be disappointing, but I think I'd rather fail to meet high expectations than fail to meet low ones.

  43. Nicole on February 23, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    >I leave it in God's hands. He knows my dreams and He knows my goals but in the end it's His will that matters. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. I think that verse says it all.

  44. Carradee on February 23, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    >I write because I love it. I sometimes let myself daydream a minute or two, "Wouldn't it be nice if…?"

    But I know full well those are daydreams. I tentatively hope big for my projects; I make myself expect lower than is likely reasonable. That way, anything I do get is a pleasant surprise.

  45. T.J. on February 23, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    >I feel that I need to keep myself in check all the time. Occasionally, I let myself think of the 'big dreams.' But then I realized that my goals and my dreams aren't necessarily the same. My goal is to have an agent and be published (not self-published). My dream is to be well-known and liked for my writing to the point that I don't need to hold a 9-5 job any more.
    I don't want to be Stephenie Meyer or J.K. Rowling. First, their women and I'm not. But second, I want to be me. If I had that much fame, it'd probably go to my head and turn me into a jerk. Someon once asked me if I was writing "the next Harry Potter." I had to laugh and say "No, my book isn't about Harry Potter." I want my book to be known for it. Harry Potter wasn't once deemed "the next Chronicles of Narnia" or "Lord of the Rings". It's remembering that concept that keeps me in my reality. I want to be me. Not someone else.

  46. Kathryn Lang on February 23, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    >It is the thoughts of the man that will make that man. Having faith for the impossible and the actions to follow through are essential to success.

    That being said, never count your chickens before they hatch. In other words, I budget off what has cleared the bank and not what I hope, have faith or wish will come in.

  47. Jim Marr on February 23, 2010 at 8:08 AM

    >I'll do my part of "the dream" and let God do the rest. I don't want to limit God but as many have said already, I want to keep things in proper "realistic" balance. I pray wherever the journey leads, I'll keep my focus on the Lord and his divine guidance.


  48. Michelle Sutton on February 23, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    >You are definitely on a tight rope. My agent has to do the same balancing act with my books for the same reasons. I hope things work out above and beyond whatever you imagined or hoped for. 🙂

  49. Lance on February 23, 2010 at 7:38 AM

    >It's simple, I don't limit my expectations, for that would be limiting God. If I get dissappointed in the results, then I am measuring God by human standards.

  50. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought on February 23, 2010 at 7:25 AM

    >In On Writing…Stephen King wrote, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” I’m going to play on that for my answer. I dream big with my eyes closed and go forth in the real world with my eyes wide open.
    ~ Wendy

  51. Krista Phillips on February 23, 2010 at 7:23 AM

    >My motto in life is to dream big, but plan realistically.

    For me, dreaming is fun. It also broadens my horizons, puts me out of my comfort zone, and puts zero limits on what God can do. And let me tell you, many times in my life God has surprised me and gone bigger than my dreams.

    But… I also realize that God doesn't always work in the way of our dreams. (i.e. the #4 girl in my belly instead of a boy! ha!) But God always knows BEST.

    I think the trick is to be realistic in your planning, but not to limit God and be a pessimist just in the name of managing expectations.

    If I never had big dreams, I would have never started to write. I DO have dreams of being able to, someday, stay home with my kids and be writer/stay-at-home mom and let my husband go back to work full-time. It's a dream and a prayer really.

    But I'm not going to give my resignation at my job until God gives me the go ahead either.

  52. Melissa on February 23, 2010 at 7:08 AM

    >I think I have fairly realistic expectations. I've taken that crucial first step toward publication: writing a book. But instead of hoping it'll actually get published, my next step is to find an agent. And while I haven't done that (yet), I refuse to look too far in the future until I do.

    If I hope or expect to be the next break-out author, like Stephenie Meyer, I'll only be disappointed. I've been called a pessimist many times, but I'm just being realistic about what I love to do.

  53. Bron on February 23, 2010 at 6:06 AM

    >I'm editing at the moment so I'm letting myself dream big. It spurs me on. But I'm sure once I'm querying and receive a few rejections, I'll be happy just to have an agent, and then a publishing deal, even if it's not huge. I think it's like being a kid and imagining you'll grow up to be a movie star or an astronaut or something. You dream big, then as you get older you get more realistic and happy with what you do achieve.

  54. Jessica on February 23, 2010 at 5:59 AM

    >That's such a good question. I think, like Katie, I tend to be realistic. My sister just asked yesterday how much a writer gets paid for a book and that kind of gave me a chance to verbally state the realities.
    Right now, I think my big dream is to start a career as an author. Money is great, but that isn't really why I wanted to get published.
    Now I just have to balance the desire to have this career with the realities than thousands of other wonderful writers are vying for the same thing. *grin*

    The book sounds interesting. I hope it ends up being huge. 🙂

  55. Katie Ganshert on February 23, 2010 at 5:42 AM

    >What a great question! I tend to error on the side of realistic. After listening to Debbie Macomber's keynote speech in September, I've really tried to let myself dream big. To think positive and to write down those "dream" goals I have for my writing career. There's something both powerful and relieving when I share these big desires with an awesome God. He knows my heart. But ultimately, His plan is best. So….I try to dream big and think positive, but lay all these things before God and hold onto the truth that His plans for my life are far better than my own.

  56. Nic on February 23, 2010 at 5:31 AM

    >I'm always thinking big, thinking in Stephanie Meyer type dreams but then i know the reality and the reality is loads of work which might never be good enough and generally give up.
    In otherwords i'm one of those failures in the Tomas Edison quotes
    "Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged."
    "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. "
    I wish i weren't and know its up to me to think big and then do it but i work it up so its impossible.

  57. Jeff on February 23, 2010 at 5:30 AM

    >Why aim for second place? Whether or not it is realistic I always believe that my writing will make me famous and enough money to live comfortably. I’ve held this attitude my whole life towards all of my goals and I experience my share of failures. But those failures only drive me harder the next time.

    That being said, I don’t put all my eggs in one basket. Knowing that my writing will make me the next Stephen King doesn’t put food on the table!

  58. Jeff on February 23, 2010 at 5:30 AM

    >Why aim for second place? Whether or not it is realistic I always believe that my writing will make me famous and enough money to live comfortably. I’ve held this attitude my whole life towards all of my goals and I experience my share of failures. But those failures only drive me harder the next time.

    That being said, I don’t put all my eggs in one basket. Knowing that my writing will make me the next Stephen King doesn’t put food on the table!

  59. Nathan on February 23, 2010 at 4:39 AM

    >Write the dream!

    But realize that we still have about 16 waking hours where reality is going to hit us hard for our time and attention.

    As soon as others begin picking up and even sharing the dream, then I guess we'll know we're not just sleeping anymore.

  60. Molly Hall on February 23, 2010 at 3:19 AM

    >I love to dream and imagine all the wonderful possibilities. I think that visualizing things going well can only help. But, in the end, I try to remind myself that I am hoping for whatever will serve "my highest good." It may turn out much different than what I expected, but I try to trust that it will be for the best.

  61. Xuxana on February 23, 2010 at 3:09 AM

    >I was just wondering what you mean when you say you are looking for manuscripts with a Christian theme. Does this mean you take religious stories only?

  62. TERI REES WANG on February 23, 2010 at 3:04 AM

    >I try best I can to stay in the "Now".

    I breathe in deep, and release slow.

    And, when still doubtful and desperate, I pull a daily-pick-on-line-divine-guidance-tarot-card!…

  63. Anonymous on February 23, 2010 at 2:54 AM

    >I wouldn't mind a small fortune but don't really want the fame that goes along with writing a bestseller. Good sales and positive reviews would be nice–in short, I'd like enough success to keep writing my series and not feel like I'm wasting my time.

  64. Anne Lang Bundy on February 23, 2010 at 2:39 AM

    >My gifts as a writer came from the Lord and belong to Him, so He is entitled to direct and empower their use.

    My projects likewise belong to Him. I pour myself into them, present them as gifts to Him, and allow Him to open or close the doors according to His will and timing.

    If I held my work tightly in my own hands, I'd feel responsible and frustrated for whether or not they are published–matters outside my control. So I remind myself constantly of Who is Lord, strive hard to return to Him the excellence of which He is worthy, and turn again to Him when impatience tries to get the better of me.

  65. M.B. Sandefur on February 23, 2010 at 2:25 AM

    >I try not to think of my projects as lottery tickets because its unrealistic that I would hit it big my first time out, or even my fifth time. I write because I love writing. I'm actually all about building a career so I don't want so huge of an advance, because it would be silly for me to think I could sell out of it with no followers. Royalties are how a writer makes money, for the most part. I have no following to be comfortable enough to accept a huge advance. Having a good sales record will get me a lot farther than a huge advance.

    Alright, I'm rambling… Must be the hours of typing getting to my head. The point is that I try to keep my feet on the ground. Is it so bad that I try not to hope because I don't want to be disappointed?

  66. lexcade on February 23, 2010 at 2:06 AM

    >that's kind of a tough one. on the one hand, i'd love for my book to be the "next big thing." i think every writer wants that. but on the other, the more level-headed part of me would just be happy at this point to find an agent, let alone actually get published. so i guess it comes down to perspective. if A happens, then great. if B happens instead, then great. i guess i try to keep myself on the side of the optimistic realist.

    heck, at this point i'd be content to be done with revisions.