We were probably eleven and seven respectively. My sister and I somehow got our hands on the Publisher’s Clearing House million dollar sweepstakes mailing. I believe, even though I was eleven, the envelope was addressed to me. We were so sure we were going to win the million dollars. We pulled out the sofa bed in the playroom and started jumping on it. I felt so giddy and so certain. I was transported – I could see it, feel it, I was so sure it was going to happen for us. We were out-of-our-heads excited. And our parents did not break the news to us, ever, that it probably was a long shot. We were planning and screaming and jumping. We could feel what it would be like to win, to get the call.
It was so easy to dream. The thing is, it wasn’t a dream. It was real. It was happening. I realize now that I need to tap into that certainty, that ability to dream, and the belief that anything is possible. Now, we never did win the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes, obviously. And, at eleven, I probably was not eligible to anyway. But we never did play, either. The point is, I need to feel, taste, see, hear, smell my dream, just like I did when I thought we were going to win a million dollars. This time though, I need to play. I need to stick those little postage-stamp-sized magazine covers onto the return envelope and get in the game.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to plan for my success. I have a vague idea of how I am going to get there. I am going to sell a novel – finish it first, get it to my agent. But it’s going to sell. I’ve been imagining what it’s going to feel like to get that call. The call that I’ve sold a novel. It’s going to come on my cell phone. And I will be calm at first. But when I call SP and then my parents to tell that it happened, I’ll probably scream. I’ll probably even cry from relief, just like Lindsey Vonn did at the bottom of the mountain when she found out she won gold. She said, “I worked so hard for this…”
In the meantime, I’ll remind myself: it took James Cameron fifteen years to get Avatar made, in part because it was so revolutionary that the technology to make it didn’t exist when he started. It took Rebecca Skloot ten years of research and travel, at her own expense, to write The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. She had an escape plan for all her research, if there was a fire in her apartment. She had a plan for two other people to take over the writing if something happened to her on the road. She believed that hard in the importance of what she was doing. And, I even read that Meg Cabot – the prolific and wildly successful author of The Princess Diaries, who was lucky enough to even have the incomparable Julie Andrews (and Anne Hathaway!) in the film version of her book – was rejected 17 times before someone decided to take a chance on her.
I have my eyes on the prize. I see myself at my book party, (I even know the date but I’ll keep that to myself for now), and it’ll be launching a book that’s going to be wildly successful, too. And it will be so much easier than winning the Publisher’s Clearing House. I have complete control over my success. So the giddiness, the taste, the feel, it’s all right there.