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  • Writer's pictureegradcliff

Dreaming Big

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

Before it was a novel, The Hidden King was a dream.

I don’t mean this in a metaphorical way--I mean that I woke up one summer Sunday morning and, ensnared by the pictures in my head, didn’t open my eyes for another twenty minutes. When I had my thoughts a little bit organized, I leapt out of bed with hair akimbo, and, snagging a bowl of leftover spaghetti for breakfast, became one with my laptop. I laid on the floor, ready to unspool the dream from my head in ten pages or so, as is customary for me. Dreaming is great inspiration, and if I do it right, I can capture the essence of a story right when I wake up. The Hidden King, though, wouldn’t cooperate.

Ten pages? it murmured. Fat chance, you fool. Try one hundred thousand words.

I, a helpless medium for the little writing-creature in my brain, typed until my fingers ached, and then I re-read and typed some more. I complained to the writing-creature. I bargained. I told it that if it would let me do my actual work that I really had to do, then I’d stay up until three in the morning to be its little writing slave.

Three in the morning sounds good, it said. We’ll do that. But you don’t get to do any work in the meantime.

So I wrote. I wrote so much that the length of my first draft weighed in at about 148,000 words--for reference, the final version (that hopefully you will own) has about 75,000.

When I thought I was finished, I printed out the manuscript, and then I called my mother. Now, let me tell you that my mother is a rare breed; she has the patience of a mountain, but a sharp eye and a sharper brain. Over the course of 6 weeks, she went through the manuscript with a pencil in her hand, filling the margins. When she was through with that, I took the manuscript to my father, and we talked for hours.

Up to this point, I was still just appeasing the little monster in my brain, but now I'd made up my mind.

This book was going to be more than a way-too-big pile of paper on the end of my desk. It was going to be a capital-B Book, a legitimate novel, an edited, bound, cover-arted thing. I was going to publish it if it killed me. So, using Reedsy--a website for writing professionals--I connected with an editor, then, later, a cover artist and another editor. My mother, a former software developer and systems designer, became my touchstone to the world of publicity, website design, and awe-inspiring spreadsheets. Together, what I came to think of as my team and I marched onward to the front.

That’s how, two-and-some years later, the wild-haired, spaghetti-eating dreamer became an author. When I look back at the very beginning, it shocks me a little bit; I wanted this so badly, and with help made it happen. It’s a powerful feeling, no doubt about it.

Even if I thought I could stop writing, I wouldn’t. It’s part of me, woven into my identity. Quite frankly, finding this kind of love is a gift I’ll never stop being grateful for.

This post uses Amazon affiliate links. If you were to make a purchase with these links, I may receive a teeny commission. This does not affect your purchase price.


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