25 November 2023

To dream the impossible dream, to reach the unreachable star...

Today, I'm pleased to welcome my friend and colleague Lisa de Nikolits to Sleuthsayers.  I smiled after reading her post, because it pertains to me so well.

To wit:  In 1993, I had a humorous - okay, loopy - play performed in Toronto.  In the audience were some industry people, and in particular, a television producer.  He came up to me, and said, "You are completely nuts, and I'd like you to come write pilots for me."  Of course, this meant moving to LA.  I hesitated and let the opportunity go, because it seemed too much to move my husband and two preschoolers to a different country.  And of course, this wouldn't be the only time I'd be asked, right?

The producer was from a company called HBO.  Who had ever heard of HBO in 1993?  Needless to say, this is probably one of the worst mistakes ever made by someone not legally insane.

So read Lisa's post below, and see if you agree!

To dream the impossible dream, to reach the unreachable star…

by Lisa de Nikolits

For many writers, books and publishing are exactly that; unreachable stars and impossible dreams. To scale the heights we want to can seem like a hopeless quest – nay, merely staying afloat is sometimes heroic enough!

And this year has, no doubt about it, been a tough one on the writing front.

I've been pondering the magical ingredients that help us float our authorly boats, and enjoy the journey as we travel towards the sparkly lights that we know are there, even if they are shrouded by mist and clouds.

In my opinion, it comes down to three things:




Let's start with obsession.  You have to want something to the exclusion of all else.  Yes, family dinner parties and events may see you at the dining room table but your mind will be plotting and planning your next writerly move.  What will your characters do next? Each place you visit, to shop or dine or travel, all go into the melting pot of your next story.  You cannot escape the writerly perspective. Never mind rose-coloured glasses, we wear author lenses which, much like James Bond spy glasses, distill the whole into a single funnel - The Story.

And, once you have written The Story, then it must be published.  Because until it is published, it's no more than a silent invisible spectre, existing to no one but you.

Next, is opportunity.  Without the right opportunity, your story will never morph from that spectre into the flesh and bone of books: ink and paper.

And, never be so unwise as to think that opportunities are limitless.  I never understand it when people are cavalier about an opportunity, saying, "oh well, if I miss this one, something else will come along."

It might not!  There are no guarantees.  So, when an opportunity pops up, you have to seize it with both hands and you have to do whatever it takes to make the most of it, no matter how tired you are, no matter how weary.

So, be vigilant, look out for opportunities.  Sometimes they're like buried treasure, and you have to unearth them.

The final ingredient is support.  From loved ones, from friends, from the community, from one's publisher.  You don't only need support while you're trudging that long road, you need support to celebrate, so when you throw a party, you can share the joy when things do work out!

Obsession, opportunity and support.

And one more thing.  Karma.  Be nice to people.  Camaraderie is the oil that keeps the wheels of our industry turning.

And dream the impossible dream!

ABOUT LISA....Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits is the award-winning author of eleven published novels (Inanna Publications). She has appeared on recommended reading lists for Open Book Toronto, 49th Shelf, All Lit Up, The Miramachi Reader, Chatelaine, Canadian Living, Hello! Canada, the Quill & Quire, the CBC and the Toronto Star. Mad Dog and the Sea Dragon (2024) will be her twelfth book. 

About the book...Mad Dog and the Sea Dragon is a noir, darkly comedic caper set in current time, written as a 1950’s hard-boiled suspense thriller with a series of age-old cons playing out in real time. You don’t want to mess with mob boss antagonist, gangster Serafino D’Angelo, whose love for the murder photographer, Weegee finds its way into his business dealings and private obsessions. Greed drives the stakes higher and higher, complicated by sibling rivalry, doomed love affairs and terrifying familial cruelty. 





  1. We've all thought, at one point or another, that another would come... As the old proverb says, "Seize the opportunity by the beard, for it is bald behind."
    Good to hear from you, Lisa!

    1. I hadn't heard that proverb before, Eve -thanks for that, and for commenting!

    2. Me either, Melodie. I haven't heard Eve's saying before.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I believe curiosity is a factor, although that may fall under obsession. Insatiable reading, of course, but also experiences. I was just discussing harvesting cranberries from a bog. The other day I drove my friend to the local cannabis dispensary, partly to help my friend but also so I could observe the scene. So if a weed-smoking character is found floating in a cranberry blog… blame it on curiosity.

    Where O where in South Africa?

    1. Thank you Leigh! I'm from Johannesburg! Which means I talk at a hundred miles an hour! Jhb is to Toronto what Vancouver is to Cape Town. I miss it! There's a guy on Substack, The Colour - Jason Logan is a creative director I had the great pleasure of working for years ago and now he's an ink maker. There's a documentary about him too - I find his weekly newsletters so inspiring. This week he discussed harvesting rose hips and turning it into ink. I think your weed-smoking character in a cranberry blog would be great! If you're interested in his newsletter, email me at lisa@lisadenikolits.com and I'll send you the link :)

  3. It 's an old Bulgarian proverb, but I think they got it from ancient Rome.

  4. I will look forward to the Cranberry Caper, Leigh! grin =- Melodie


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