Keep Dreaming, Writers!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I just returned from NYC, where I visited my agent, Wendy Sherman (GORGEOUS!) and my publishing team at Crown/Random House. Gary ransacked SoHo, singlehandedly reviving the retail economy, while I sat down with marketing, publicity and editorial to discuss the launch of my upcoming memoir, AT LEAST IN THE CITY SOMEONE WOULD HEAR ME SCREAM: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life.

In many ways, the trip was a dream. But, in many ways, it was a gut-check, too.

Wendy asked, after I returned home, to share my experience. You can find it on her site at:

I've also included it below ... I hope it inspires and helps.


Dream A Little Dream
Wade Rouse

There is something surreal about standing in the awe-inspiring lobby of Random House’s headquarters in Manhattan, surrounded by Godzilla-esque floor-to-ceiling bookshelves showcasing classics that have changed the world.

Craning my neck, I couldn’t help but think, “Now this is the stuff in which all writers dream.”

A meeting with a major publisher.

A conference room, overlooking the city, filled with your marketing team.

A lunch with your literary agent, editor and publicity director.

Unquestionable excitement for your work.

And, there was no doubt, the enthusiasm for my upcoming memoir, AT LEAST IN THE CITY SOMEONE WOULD HEAR ME SCREAM: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life – which chronicles my journey as the ultimate urbanite who leaves the city behind in order to move to the woods of Michigan and recreate Thoreau’s Walden (to hilarious results) – was palpable. Members of the team told me they laughed out loud – like lunatics – on the subway to work. Some cried.

My heart soared.

Later in my whirlwind day, I had a wonderful dinner with Wendy, who has long been the most enthusiastic supporter of my work. In many ways, we have the greatest working relationship of my life: We respect one another’s talent, passion and drive, which provides the freedom and safety to do what we do best.

Yes, my visit to NYC was, in many ways, a dream trip.

And yet, despite the rush, I left more grounded than ever.

I left knowing that – even with the best agent and best publisher – writers must work harder than ever.

Publishing is going through a sea change. Booksellers – of all sizes – are fighting to stay alive. Today’s authors must spend as much time branding themselves, building their profiles, selling themselves and their work, as they must writing.
A book no longer ends with the final period, or even with securing a literary agent, a signed contract, or an approved manuscript. No, in many ways, the work is just beginning.

You must be both artist and businessman. You must be creative and sales-driven. You must have a tender heart and hard exterior.

And yet, most of all, you must be a dreamer.

Because that’s where it all begins, over and over, no matter what stage you are in your career, be it unpublished, up-and-coming, or bestselling: An author, alone, dreaming and writing. Writing what he cannot contain, a story that must be told in his own unique voice, in a way he knows no other person can tell it.

I remember the day years ago that I stood in front of a mail slot, not wanting to let go of the query letter to Wendy that I had spent a month drafting, after spending nearly two years writing and perfecting my first memoir, AMERICA’S BOY.

I had to force my fingers to release that letter, to release my dream, because I knew that was the only way it could come true: I believed I had the passion, the talent, the drive, but, finally, I had to believe in the dream.

Which is why, one day, you might find yourself, like me, standing in the lobby of Random House looking up at all those bookshelves, searching for the perfect spot to place the work you believe will change the world.

Although dreams are constantly in progress, you must first believe they can come true.