Following our dreams: The dream, the lies, and the truth

The Dream

I have wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. In elementary school there was a Young Author’s contest. Let me tell you about the blood, sweat, and tears that went into my submission. Pete the Pencil was a MASTERPIECE. It had humor, alliteration, and illustrations. It had a story line of Pete’s ongoing shenanigans. It had a Gillian Flynn-esque twist (spoiler alert – PETE WAS KILLED) and the ensuing chaos. 

Child's handwriting sample

I have no idea who won, if I won, if anyone even mentioned liking it. What I do remember is creating it. Cutting the paper and choosing the artistic “sideways” (i.e. landscape) layout. Laboring over the illustrations with my box of 32 crayons cursing the fact I did not have the pimped out 64-count box with the sharpener. Rough drafts on paper so I would not mess up the illustrations with misspelled words, updated storylines (that crafty Pete was always throwing me a curve ball), or janky 8 year old handwriting. I still feel the heart swell and stomach drop of placing the finished masterpiece on my teacher’s desk. It is how I anticipate leaving The Girl at college will be next year.

I kept writing in high school. For the school paper, for the yearbook. In pages-long heart wrenching missives to my closest friend and boys who broke my heart. It was before the time of email, social media and apps that make all that heartache disappear 15 seconds after opening the message. Thank God, because those were also masterpieces. Artistic works of teenage heartbreak. How do I know? I also wrote drafts of those, many of which I found in notebooks years later when my parents moved and started turning over boxes of “treasures.” I am sure you have some of these boxes too – baby teeth, a Cabbage Patch kid, teenage heartbreak letters and dried Homecoming flowers. Oh the angst packed into a sturdy Jim Beam box!

As part of my career I have written newsletter articles, technical instructions, and corporate C-level communications. I like words. I love words! And I always wanted to share my words with others. The list of people I had shared this goal with was very short: my sister and my husband. At one point I let a co-worker friend in on this secret goal I had to write a book.  But that was about it. No plans. No actions.

The Lies

It was easy to put off inquires from Bixby. I would be lamenting the lack of creative pursuits in my life and he would supportively ask, “What about writing? You want to write a book – how is that coming along? How can we make that happen for you?”

And oh, reader I would tell him how that was happening, yes I would. I would explain that after I did EVERYTHING for him and the kids ALL DAY LONG and repeated the process EVERY SINGLE DAY, the last thing I had energy for was to think about writing a book. Perhaps if I had HELP around here, I would have realized my lifelong dream a LONG TIME AGO. They were crushing my dreams. 

Ahem. The memory of this is so uncomfortable I want to scoot my chair away from myself.

It is so easy to blame other people for where we fall short. To hide behind our martyrdom. To use excuses that are not even true as the reasons we have not braved being vulnerable and pursuing dreams and goals. I mean real talk – let’s debunk these lies I was telling about My People blocking my book writing. 

Lie #1 – I did EVERYTHING

False. Paul cooks dinner, I don’t. He walks the dog every morning, sometimes I tag along. 

Lie #2 – ALL DAY LONG

False. I go to bed before everyone else so Paul often fields homework, signature, and crazy last minute requests. The kids are teenagers so the truth is they rarely come out of their rooms so there is no risk of them needing anything all day long. 

Lie #3 – EVERY SINGLE DAY

False. We share custody of the kids so they are not even in our house EVERY day. 

Hyperbole so easily aids in the drama and fear. And that drama and fear keeps us in our ruts and patterns. Then a decade goes by and nothing has happened. If nothing changes, nothing changes. 

The Truth

I left the job where I worked with the person that held my authorship secret goal, and we recently connected over lunch to catch up. I was carrying on about wanting more, desiring creativity – I wanted to write a book even!

“Yes!” she said, “I remember you saying that 10 years ago.” 

Ooof. She did not mean it unkindly, she is Candadian – they are never unkind. But she is a truth teller. And boy I needed to hear that truth. It was definitely kinder than my high school basketball coach’s “encouragement” when I was indecisive: “Shit or get off the pot, Susan!” But it still packed a punch. 

Julie’s words have haunted me since. Haunted me into action. Since that fateful chat, I have:

  • Started this blog
  • Written about things more personal than someone else’s mediocre book.
  • Put up money to join an online writing community
  • Scheduled writing days into the calendar and honored that writing time

Time is going to pass whether I am writing or not. Am I willing to let another 10 years go by having a desire out there and not fill it? No, I am not.

What about you? What goals are you sitting with? Do you have a truth teller in your camp that can help you get moving? Why do you think you have not taken the first step?