Hold on tight to your dreams – note to self on my birthday
“Dream, dream, dream … dream, dream, dream.” Somewhat lame lyrics, and yet once upon a time this was one of my favourite songs (“Whenever I need you all I have to do is dream” sang Donny Osmond and my toes curled).
Since then I’ve progressed (for a while there it was “Acroche toi a ton rêve” by ELO), but I still believe in dreaming, in the power of make belief. Nowadays I also believe in doing your best to make your dreams come true. Well, not all of them, obviously, as they might cause something of a ruckus, but the dreams along the line “I wish I could” or “I really, really want to…” we should try to fulfill – for our own sake.
Most of us don’t have impossible dreams. Very few of us aspire to fly to the moon or treck across the Antarctic icecap or paddle a canoe from Ireland to Newfoundland. No, we dream of sunsoaked holidays, of maybe doing that pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (just me?), and yupp, we daydream about winning the lottery, “El Gordo” as the Spanish say, thereby indicating a sickening amount of money. Okay, so the lottery dream probably should be classified as impossible – especially if you daydream about it without buying a ticket. (There’s some sort of correlation here that I try to ignore, ergo I DO dream about winning without ever buying a ticket. What do I expect? That someone GIVE me one?)
My point is, though, that most of us have realisable dreams – at least some. But we’re pretty bad at making those dreams come true. Like fledgling birds we sit in the nest with wide open beaks and caw and caw, hoping someone will drop a fat juicy worm our way. Right; as if that ever happens … How does that old saying go? “God helps those who help themselves.” And even if you don’t believe in God but prefer to think of Fate, or Destiny, or Chance, the message is still valid. You want it, you have to go and get it.
In recent years I have actually done something about achieving those dreams. Okay, so the dream about being a hottie in a far too short black dress is still far off – discarded, actually, due to “circumstances out of my control” such as age – but for years I’ve carried around some other dreams as well.
I have always longed for finding a place that calls out “home” with capital letters. You know, you turn into the drive and there’s no doubt whatsoever this place was meant to be yours. This past summer I think I found this dreamed of place. The moment I set foot on the grass I knew this was where we belonged, my husband and I, and it didn’t matter that the bathroom was a major renovation project, that one could see through the roof of one of the barn buildings, or that the place was very, very far away from work. As of October 1, it is ours, and I sort of hug myself with glee (and apprehension, because I know nothing about major renovations).
And then there was this other dream, the one I’ve had since I don’t know when: to write a book. Now I have – no, wait, I’ve written eleven books, of which the first three will never see the light of the day, but as to the others …
First my dream was to complete a novel. Done. Then it was to get published, and that was a difficult and painful process, making me understand that it didn’t matter how well one wrote, or how much passion I poured into my work – unless there’s prospective sales of 10 000 or more, agents and publishers won’t really take you on.
I have no idea whether my books would appeal to ten thousand readers. I think they might – on a good day and with the wind in the west. I have made huge efforts to ensure it is well written (and I’ve used professionals to help me) and I believe that there is a general appeal to the story (love stories always sell, and in this case having two people who should never have met – not when he was born three centuries before her – fall in love, well, it gives ample opportunity to explore the issues two people with very different sets of values would face.)
As I am pigheaded and impatient, I found alternative ways of getting my book out there, and yes, it was huge amounts of work but definitely worth it when I finally saw my baby in print. (It’s available on Amazon, on Lovewriting, on a number of other intenet bookseller sites, on Troubador.co.uk)
And now that my novel is printed, it is no longer enough to have written and published. No, now I want to be read! I want my characters to come to life for other people, to have them wonder about why Matthew said this or did that (I do that all the time) and was Alex making an informed choice when she … (the jury is still out on that one).
The observant reader will conclude that along the way my dream morphed from being a personal experience (writing) to becoming a need for approval and/or recognition. But that’s the way most dreams go, right? They grow and evolve with us. If at first the dream was to jog around the nearby park, once that is achieved we might decide to do it faster, and the day we beat the set time limit is the day we extend the run from five kilometres to seven. (This particular dream is not me. I hate running.)
Anyway, as I think I’ve written before, while I can work endless hours polishing my texts, when it comes to the distribution/promotional part this is Chinese to me. And I HATE it that this part of my dream is somehow outside my circle of influence. (Did I mention I am something of a control freak?) So, being pragmatic (at times) I’ve decided to concentrate on the work with book number two. It relaxes me to go comma hunting, to read the dialogue out loud and to kill my beloved adverbs. And so I am back to living the dream, to long hours spent in a rush of addiction (yes, people, writing IS a vice. A good vice, I firmly believe, but definitely a vice) that leave me me tired but content. And very soon there’ll be TWO books with my name on them!
After book two comes number three and four and five and … It makes me shiver with joy. So much work to do, so many rewrites, so many days of pure escapism. I’m a lucky woman, people, a very lucky woman.
I guess this whole post is a reminder to myself – and whoever else reads it – that there’s a lot of life waiting, a lot of things to do. So hold on to your dreams, hone them and define them and maybe one day you’ll make them come true. That’s the important thing to remember: dreams don’t just happen, you have to make them happen!