I’ve heard the story before, as have you: authors that talk about writing being their lifelong goal. They start as voracious readers, always getting the highest marks on creative writing assignments, and then becoming consumed with the dream. The lure of the printed word and the idea of “getting published” (however that happens) sucks us in.
I was one of those people. Writing professionally has always been my dream, but until I was in my thirties it was just one of those stick-it-in-your-hat-and-think-about-it-when-life-gets-annoying kind of dreams. I didn’t really think I would (or could) ever do it.
When I graduated from high school and was looking at my options, I found a good compromise between the dream and the need for secure employment (or so I thought). I wanted to be creative but still gainfully employed so I could afford to, you know, feed myself and all that junk. There was (and still is) a program at my local community college called “Creative Communications” and I went for it. It included journalism, public relations and advertising (plus a bunch of other instruction in things like creative writing, radio, television and layout & design), and seemed like just what I needed. I would be one of those people who really lived the dream. I could be creative and use my mind and still get paid, and it would all be perfect.
Except that it wasn’t.
Turns out I didn’t like being a journalist, or an advertiser, or a public relations person (which is what I ultimately majored in). I graduated and didn’t even look for a job in any of those fields. There are times when I look back and think that time in school was kind of a waste, except that I use many of the skills I learned there on a regular basis (just not the whole diploma part). After graduating I worked, got married, had children and generally moved on with my life. Every so often I would think about those writing dreams as if they were a lovely (and slightly deluded) part of my past.
Then, I found a story.
I blame the midnight feedings and sitting on a rocking chair in the dark, wishing I was in bed. I dreamed while awake (or kind of awake) and night after night the story fell into place. It stirred something inside me that I hadn’t ever thought I would feel again. I wanted to, I NEEDED to write.
So I did. In short bursts, scattered among laundry and cooking and child-raising, I wrote.
I wonder about that sometimes. What would have happened if I had been diligent and chased my dream back then? Would I have succeeded, or just grown frustrated because I wasn’t really ready? I feel like I needed to put my dreams in a big oak barrel and let it age for a while, and maybe that’s okay. It’s better now than it would have been then. I am a different person than my college days, and have seen and experienced so much that now litters my writing.
I wasn’t ready then.
I’m ready now, so watch out. I’m coming.
5 thoughts on “When your dreams need to age.”
Dude, Your posts always make me cry. This is how I know what an awesome writer you are, because your BLOG makes me cry. In a good way.
I always loved writing too. I had a LOT of ridiculous stories, dating back to when I first got my Tandy computer in 1990. (I wish you could see it, it’s a real beauty 😉 ) But I got discouraged along the way. We had to take this writing class, in preparation for college, writing essays, etc. The teacher, who in retrospect didn’t know anything about anything, didn’t really love my work. He was a stickler for stupid stuff like exact page length and margins and other such things, and content mattered little. Anyway, I hadn’t wanted to do ANYTHING after high school. But I ended up as a Spanish and Secondary Education major for a few semesters. Then I got bored of that (and I realized I couldn’t speak a lick of Spanish), so I just took any old classes that sounded fun. They were, unsurprisingly, more arts and humanities classes. They were awesome, and my GPA soared. But then someone said “by the by, you may want to have a major”…. so I picked (are you ready for this?) Sports Management. I have a B.S. in Business Administration, which I have used exactly zero times.
THEN, I got the great idea to get a master’s in elementary education. That lasted one and a half semesters, and I had to stop when I was pregnant and it ended up being high risk. As it turned out, I also hated teaching.
Fast forward four years, and I have two kids, zero career, and not a ton of hope. But man, you give me hope. I really want you to know that you inspire me. A lot. It might sound cheesy, but I can’t help it. I feel like you have reminded me that I CAN make a go of it, someday, despite the kids, and despite the time constraints. I don’t know that today is that day, but I have faith that it’ll happen. I will try, at least. And maybe nothing will come of it, but hey, you never know, right?
This is a truly inspiring piece! I often wonder what a future looks like with a degree in illustration (that’s what I’m in school for now). I commend you for finishing your manuscript and although we are often our own worst critics – it’s probably great because this post was GREAT!
Thank you for this post – it’s left me thinking positive!
Thanks so much! I’m glad I could leave you feeling positive! Good luck on following your dreams!
What a great personal post. Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us. I think ideas, like dreams, need to age. If you’re writing realistic fiction, you really need to live a little to have stories to tell. I am not a writer, but I always hear people telling young writers “Write what you know” and the older we are the more we know. I hope you can find time for your writing and get support from your family to make this dream come true.
Thanks so much for your encouragement!