This is where I should place an overused quotation about dreams and broken-winged birds. Right here. Right up front. It would be here to draw The Reader in. It would be The Hook. The Reader would read the quotation, and sigh longingly in agreement. Yes! Yes! Life without dreams is like that broken-winged bird that cannot fly (wait, isn’t that redundant?). The Reader, so enamored with my clever use of the quotation could not help but read on.
The quotation is not going to appear. The Reader will not resonate with it, because it will not be there. Tonight, I am too tired. I am beyond exhausted with all the current events and medical drama going on in my life. I don’t even have the energy to google a decent quote about achieving one’s dreams. I barely had energy to do laundry. (Which reminds me, I must switch the wash to the dryer now. Be right back.)
So, while I don’t have a quotation that resonates with the masses, or The Reader, I do have a bit of a story. I hope you’ll take a moment, mix yourself up your favorite libation and pull up close to your digital device and read on.
Dreams are funny. As children we look forward to growing up so we can achieve our dreams. Do what we want. Go where we please. Travel the world. Become famous. Children have such large dreams, I think, because they shoulder so little responsibility for them. But then, every child grows up and sometimes, we are lucky. Sometimes we achieve our dreams. Then again, when the dream is achieved, we find out that is isn’t quite what we’d hoped all our lives it would be. Sometimes we change the dream or modify it as we get more information and as we come to a deeper self-awareness. And sometimes, the dream just goes on hold.
In the fourth grade, I was tasked with writing a story. I remember nothing of the assignment, but I had to write a story. This assignment ended up being one of two very memorable assignments from my elementary years. And, come to think of it, I think they both happened when I was in the fourth grade. This particular assignment, was to write a story. I knew nothing about story structure, I knew nothing about setting the scene, introducing the characters, creating a problem which resolved later in the story. Nothing. These were not the tools handed to us back in the day. The tools handed to us were grammar, conventions, and penmanship.
I wrote a story about an apple. I remember nothing else about this story. I don’t know what the problem was. I can’t remember how the tome resolved. I just remember that it was long, having had no instruction in the matter of writing and effective conclusion, and my teacher loved it. My teacher loved it so much that I was given the opportunity to read my story to the whole class. I was a little embarrassed about this, because while I did enjoy writing, I knew there were issues with the piece. I knew, even at the fourth grade, that this piece was too long and went nowhere. I knew it had a weak ending. I knew it lacked certain things that make up a good story. I knew this, because I read, often, very good stories that worked. And yet, my teacher raved about my writing. When I finished reading the apple story to the class, my classmates also raved. I wasn’t a popular child. I was shy and awkward, skinny and freckled. Not exactly the cutest thing. But my classmates raved. At that moment, I knew I enjoyed creating, not for the “raving”, though that does feel good, but for the enjoyment in the giving of the story and the enjoyment when it was received. That day, and probably well before that day, a dream was born. I wanted to write. I wanted to become a published author.
The dream went on hold. It went on hold through middle school where I journaled volumed and wrote stories with a friend, novels really. She would write a chapter, I would write the next, about our experience as common people, meeting The Osmonds, and falling in love with our favorite one. I do so wish we’d kept those novellas. It would truly put Harlequin out of business if it were to be updated and published today. It went on hold throughout high school where I tried to survive an abusive father who was also dying of cancer. It went on hold through college where I considered journalism but froze up when I realized I had to write under a deadline. It went on hold through my 20’s, and my 30’s where I wrote, and successfully so, but not in ways I perceived as valid. I wrote grants and won the awards. I wrote cover letters and always got the interview. I wrote advertising brochures and always got the sales. Then, I entered my 40’s and a very bad marriage. As part of my self-medication routine and, as and attempt to legitimately leave the relationship, I enrolled in graduate school, online.
If there’s one thing you have to do online, it is write. If there’s another thing you have to do in an online program, it is write about boring stuff and present it clearly and in a manner that actually makes sense. You must research. You must cite sources. You must do all of this in a particular prescribed manner. This challenged my freewheeling, untaught, unharnessed creativity to the core. The big bonus in academic writing occurs if you are able to make it somewhat entertaining to read without sacrificing the academic protocols or credibility in the process. I’m not sure I was successful with that last, but what I did learn from my online graduate degree was that I could write under a deadline and I could do it well. (I also learned that I needed my own personal editor.)
By this time the dream had been on hold for so long I wasn’t sure I recognized it. I’d wanted to write and publish, but I had no story…or…everything was a story. I was now twice divorced with four children and solidly entrenched in a career that didn’t afford me much creativity or time for writing. I envied those who wrote, published articles amidst the demands of raising children and taxiing kids to soccer practice. I was struggling just to keep gas in the car and food on the table. By the time I ended the day, I was bone weary. All my creative energy was spent surviving.
Then three things happened which I think made all the difference. The first, was the advent of the blog. I was late to the game and many others were already far more successful and accomplished writers. I quickly learned I couldn’t look at this as a competitive endeavor, like I might were it a business deal and I was tasked with landing that multi-million dollars advertising account. I needed to write. I needed to get over my fear of writing. I particularly needed to get over my fear of having others read my writing. The blog is an effective venue for exactly that. It is the perfect way of putting oneself out there. One learns to write for an audience, and one gets feedback. Both are important to the writer.
The second thing that happened, happened just recently. I finally checked my mail.
I have been lazy about a lot of things since the Non-Boyfriend took off in August. Contrary to his predictions, I’ve been pretty good about keeping up the house without his help. I’ve been less concerned that I check the mail every single day. This week, I think I went almost the entire week before I checked it Sunday. When I did, it was packed solidly, and there was a package among the rubble. Along with a card that read,
Look for your present in the mail. I hope it helps fulfill your dream.
In the package was one of the most perceptive and thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received from a person I knew, way back in the day, when the dream was on hold in high school.
This is a fabulous book. I’d highly recommend it to anyone seeking to craft a writing life when the realities of life crowd out energy to pursue the dream.
The third thing that happened happened a year ago when I started this blog. I purchased and registered the domain name mizinsomniac.com. I had no idea where it was going or if I’d even use it, but I liked the name. For $7, it couldn’t hurt. Little did I know how much fun I would have here, late at night, in the wee hours. I find I return here and it calms me. I look forward to my next attempt at some literary trick. This digital place has been healing to me, in so many ways, and my lurking friends who occasionally comment, give me confidence and courage. I soon learned, however, that I’d registered my domain with a company that was difficult if not impossible to work with. I have been working for nearly three months to transfer this domain (along with four others) to another registrar. This week the other company released authorization codes on all five of my domains and tonight, I transferred the first of them. MizInsomniac.wordpress.com will soon become MizInsomniac.com. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of advance notice and it won’t happen for a week or two, but it will be happening. And why? Because, I’m taking that dream off the shelf and dusting it off. No more excuses.