I believe in my dream to become a published and prolific YA and Fantasy novelist. Success as a writer means different things to different people: some aspire to high sales and bestseller lists, others want critical acclaim and awards/prizes/accolades, still others seek a cult following. For me, the greatest part would be to create novels that readers love; I would love to have my readers discuss their favourite characters, what they want to happen in the next book, and so on - just like I did growing up with all my favourite books.
Finding wealth from writing is rare, and part of it is luck, so there is not much I can do to make that happen. But I can work hard to achieve a living income from my art - which would enable me to spend all my working days doing what I love. I'm only in my late twenties, but the older I get, the more I realise we are on this planet for a very short amount of time, so I want to enjoy the days I have here. If I could spend my days doing what I love, I would be a happy man.
What started this dream?
To be honest, I grew up as a bit of an oddball kid. I was always reading from a really young age: everything from Little Golden Books to those thumping big UBD road maps. I spent so many hours poring over the old World Book set: no Internet or hyperlink-hopping back in the early 90s, just a stack of open encyclopedias strewn across the carpet. My parents took to calling me "Number 5", after the information-seeking robot in the 80s sci-fi movie Short Circuit, who went around droning for "more input". In any case, I was reading anything I could get my hands on, and by the time I was seven, reading took up a lot of my spare time. I realised what made me happy was not just reading stories, but telling them. The day after I realised that, I got a notebook and pen and started my first story. Even though I come from a working-class background and a country town where literary pursuits were really not the norm, least of all for a young boy, my parents always encouraged me in my unusual pursuits, and I never stopped going for what I wanted.
What motivates you to follow this dream?
One of my favourite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It's a hermetic/new age parable about the importance of following your dreams, and I re-read it every few years. There are two strong motivators within this novel (well, I reckon they're strong). The first is that having a dream makes life meaningful, not achieving it, necessarily: as Coelho puts it in his book Aleph, it's not about the station, it's about the train.
The second point is that the universe will give you small wins along the way to your dream, to give you some self-belief and help you to keep going. I've had some small wins over the years to keep me going. A short story published in a literary journal in 2009. A bit of freelance journalistic stuff published after that. Another short story in another journal in 2015. A prestigious arts grant that same year. All small victories that tell me I'm on track, I'm getting there, and I can make it.
What are your goals?
My current goal is to finish the project I have just started: a YA novel that deals with some heavy themes that are close to the bone about the trauma of my own teenage years. It’s big stuff to work on, but it feels important to get it out there into the world. After that's done, I have a YA Fantasy manuscript to rework and then shop around to agents; it's in pretty good shape thanks to a mentorship I had in 2016 with a top editor from the Australian Society of Authors, but I think it still needs some work to be not just marketable, but outstanding.
Beyond those two novels, I have so many other projects clamouring for my attention. I published a high fantasy short story earlier this year, The Scroll of Isidor, and I am keen to write a full-length novel set in that world. I have a YA Thriller that is about 1/3 complete and I will eventually want to revisit. And I'm running low on short stories in my arsenal, so I really want to churn out a few more of those and get them out into the world until I have a novel to flog.
And if those projects comprise the Bed and Bath sections of my goals/pipe dreams, here's the Beyond: I have what I think is a really cool idea for a short TV comedy series and I would love to write a script for a pilot and see if it has legs.
All of this slops around in my subconscious on a daily basis: there's the relatively new adage that a writer's brain is like a web browser with fifty tabs open at once, and I think this is very true. Incidentally, that also describes my actual web browser, so I'm really just a walking mass of chaos.
What would you like people to know and where can we find you?
My current daydream is that I quit most of my day jobs, sell all my stuff (except my laptop) and live out of a van like Jewel did in the early 90s. It's a very romantic and appealing idea: I can see myself waking up on a smelly old mattress in the back of a combi van, rolling out of the van, stretching my arms, scratching my bare chest, making myself a shitty instant black coffee and sipping that as the sun rises over the beach, and I begin my day of unadulterated writing. Poverty-stricken bliss.
Until that fantasy comes true, you can find me on the socials like most other writers. I’m on Twitter (@V8Sheppard) daily, so come and say g’day.
The Dreamer Blog features two people each week in pursuit of their dreams, large or small everyone has a dream that deserves support. Douglas Geller, the author of this blog is also the author of the book The Dreamer; you can learn more about The Dreamer and purchase it at: http://amzn.to/2j7W79P