Chip MacGregor

August 15, 2014

Dreams vs. Fears (a guest blog)


“You write a book and it’s like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it in the ocean. You don’t know if it will ever reach any shores.  And there, you see, sometimes it falls in the hands of the right person.”   ~ Isabelle Allende


The other day a woman at a party asked me how the writing was going. “I’m not sure how you writers do it but I do know that you have to deal with writers block,” she said.

I didn’t have five hours and neither did she for me to tell her how it really has been going for me.

I wish that ol’ proverbial writers block was all I had to fight.

The last two years haven’t been easy.  Currently, I’m not in a position of writing one book after the other in a niche market.  I guess I’m still trying to figure out what’s next.  With my first contracts, I thought I was sailing along.  Then the boat stopped. And the water was dark and cold.

It seems that non-writers have this notion that our lives are easy, luxurious even, as we run with one idea for a book, get it onto paper in a few days, and then create another work while we take long walks on California beaches with glasses of Napa Valley wine.  Non-writers think that we spend summers sitting on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro for inspiration.

I know I’m not alone.  You might be on this same boat.  The wind is in your face and not in a good way because it hurts your skin; it blows so harshly. Or perhaps you’re on a sailboat and there is no wind.  You’re stuck.  No, not with writers block—you know how to be disciplined—but when you’re done with your story, who wants it?  You wonder why you are where you are.  At two a.m. you send messages to your agent, things that make him think you are desperate.

This was not how you thought it would be. You get jealous of other writers.  You wonder if you are a has-been.  You eat potato chips and the grease from your fingers stains the keyboard.

You are desperate.

You hope, you pray, you doubt, and you decide you’ll become a wood worker.  But you’re afraid of power tools.  And what you really want is to be that writer you dreamed of when you were seven because you can’t think of anything that makes you feel more alive than writing.

I’m convinced that not writing is not the answer.  Because if you don’t write then you have said to Defeat, “You win.  I was never meant to be successful anyway.”  You have to believe and believe that you do have valuable things to share in a way that only you can do.

On a good day, you think, “I will win this.  I’ll show them!”

Yet in reality, the real enemy you must conquer is your mind.  You are the one who needs to prove to yourself that you have what it takes.  To be able to show that you have the ability to stay focused, improve your craft, and that you can achieve that dream.  You realize that the fight is between your dream and your fear.

Sometimes anger and frustration can be just the drive you need to get to a better story, to more authentic words.  Suffering makes you real and the world needs writers who don’t give in to writing fluff. So while you wait for the wind to pick up, look up; be ready.

Of course, I want the wind to always be in your sail, but I know it won’t always happen, so when it’s not, remember:  When it comes to choosing dreams over fear, go for the dreams.

Your book just might fall into the hands of the right person.


Alice J. Wisler is the author of six novels, four self-published cookbooks and a writing journal.  She’s represented by MacGregor Literary.  Visit her author page at

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  • Normandie Fischer

    Love that, Alice. Climbing out and coming back are powerful words. I love your last: “Go for the dreams.” Yes, ma’am. In whatever context we’re given them, we must listen and follow–and not let ourselves remain becalmed.

    • Alice Jay Wisler

      Normandie, thank you.

  • dana mentink

    I can relate, Alice. It seems like feast or famine sometimes in this wacky biz! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Alice Jay Wisler

      Thanks for reading, Dana!

  • Robin Patchen

    Well said and so true.

    • Alice Jay Wisler

      Robin, thank you for reading.

  • Alice Jay Wisler

    Thanks for all the comments here. It’s a lot tougher business than I ever dreamed it would be. But through it all, let’s keep writing!

  • Thank you Alice. Enjoyed the article. I can really relate to this. The dream really is more glamorous than the reality, but I wouldn’t enjoy it any less.

    • Alice Jay Wisler

      Thanks, Deanna!

  • Pamela Thorson

    Love this post, Alice. I get the “fame and fortune” comments occasionally. If they only knew. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that the struggles purify our motives and take us nearer to the heart of God. I just know that, through feast and famine, I have to write. Blessings.

    • Alice Jay Wisler

      Thanks, Pamela!

  • Peggotty

    “You wonder why you are where you are.” Yes, often.

    • Alice Jay Wisler

      We’re not alone, are we?

  • This is so honest and real, Alice. Thanks for articulating what so many of us feel in the industry right now. This is a time when we decide if we’re rolling with the changes in the industry or not. It’s not for everyone. I love all of your novels.

    • Alice Jay Wisler

      Tina, many thanks!

  • Linda Robinson

    Great post, Alice. Good words for all of us.

    • Alice Jay Wisler

      Thanks, Linda.

  • Cindy Thomson

    Thanks for saying what so many of us are thinking, Alice. And for the pep talk!

    • Alice Jay Wisler

      Cindy, thank you! I guess we read to know that we are not alone. (Just like C.S. Lewis said!)

  • Wow. It’s as though you’re writing my feelings! Thanks for sharing that!

    • Alice Jay Wisler

      Thanks for reading, Robin.

  • Cheryl Colwell

    Before my first book was finished, the writing was all I was focused on. Then came the time for marketing and I faced that bottle in the ocean experience. Now, after my second book is out there, and I’ve been through the cycle, it’s not as scary. On to the next. I enjoyed your novel, “Hatteras Girl,” and have no doubt you will continue to push out of these low troughs. Thanks for your honesty.

    • Alice Jay Wisler

      Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing about your experience. All the best to you!