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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dream a Little Dream

In my senior year of high school, we were tasked with a creative writing assignment that asked us to look ten years into the future and describe what our lives would be like. I thought long and hard on what to write, wanting so much to not just tell what I envisioned, but to transport the reader—and myself—to that place I hoped to be at. In my story, the opening scene is of me at the impossibly old age of twenty-eight on a balcony overlooking the ocean, a true woman in my own right. Confident in a way that I had never been in high school, I basked in the warm sunshine, breathed in the salty air, and exalted in the feeling of having finally finished my Ph.D.

Warm, strong arms soon slid around my waist, and I leaned back into the comforting embrace of my husband, whose love and support help to make my dreams of becoming a celebrated marine scientist come true. The images of my floaty white blouse ruffling in the wind, my long hair lifting gently in the sea breeze and the immense beauty of the orange and copper hues of the setting sun were so real to me, I knew I must be on the right track. At the time, I was a semester away from graduating and about to head off to college to pursue my marine science degree.

The paper earned me the highest score in the class, and I was even asked to read it aloud. With pride and pleasure I shared my dreams with the class that day, anxious to someday fulfill my own prophecy.

Looking back on that paper, I realize that I was indeed tapping into my future, though not in the way that I thought. The reason why that piece was so moving was not for the future I foresaw, but for the telling of the story itself. Little did I know it at the time, but that was the true glimpse into my future. Writing had always been so important to me, something I threw myself into no matter the subject, but I was a practical girl; it never occurred to me that I could truly make a career of it. It may have been my true dream, but it was a pipe dream.

Instead I earned that BS of Marine Science (never made it to the PhD part) and toiled for years in the field, always mindful of the fact that though I was working hard for advancement, my true dreams had nothing at all to do with my chosen career.

But that dream . . . crazy though it was, the dream of becoming a real writer tugged at me, luring me. I had a good—albeit grueling—job, a mostly 8 to 5 schedule, and a comfortable monogamy to my days, but it just wasn’t enough anymore. I wanted to reach, I wanted to break free and go for those goals that I dare not even tell anyone about.

The desire to write blossomed and grew within me, filling my thoughts and coaxing my heart. More and more, a question kept rising to the surface within me. Why not me? Yes, I knew making it as a writer was something few people actually achieved. But you know what? Those few people did achieve it, it was possible. And I looked to my sister, who is forever an inspiration to me. Her chosen outlet was a bit different than mine, but the odds were no less daunting. And guess what—she made it. She was that one in a million success story. She set her sights, made her goals, and followed her dreams. And she succeeded. Not just because she had success in achieving her goal, but because she gave it everything she had. She would have been a success even if she had never sold that first work.

She was brave, and I wanted to be too. So one day I took a leap, jumping from the ledge of the comfortable and flying into the misty ether of the totally unknown. I was incredibly fortunate, and indeed, almost 2 years to the day after leaving my old career, I sold my series to NAL.


My newly unveiled book cover – yay!

It’s a beautiful ending—and beginning!—to the story, but it’s not the only story. There were times in those two years that I wondered if I would ever attain that long, quietly held goal of seeing my book on the shelves. With rejections abounding, it is hard not to wonder! But here is the thing: Even if I had never sold, even if those stories got tucked beneath the mattress and I returned to my day job, it would have been with the knowledge that I tried. I, like so many of you, reached for my dream, giving it everything I had and then some. If my words were destined to collect dust in a long forgotten box somewhere, than I would know it was not for lack of trying. And that, my friends, would have meant success.

All of you out there who are pursing your dreams are a success for that very reason. I applaud you! I encourage you! And I hope that my story may serve as an inspiration to you, just as my sister's was and is to me.

So, what is your dream? Has it come true yet? Are you working toward it? Tell us about it!

“Welcome to Hollywood, what’s your dream? Some dreams come true, some don't; but keep on dreamin' - this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin!”*

*Bonus points if you can tell me what movie this is from :)

15 comments:

  1. Bonus Points: Pretty Woman

    My dream was to be an astronaut. Eye sight was to poor to be either an Air Force or Navy pilot/navigator so I went after an Aerospace Engineering degree. Gave up on it at 3.5 years in. Falling asleep in the shower and classes because I'd only had 2 hours of sleep just so I could take tests and fail them was less than appealing. When the 4.0 students couldn't find jobs, I decided to switch majors.

    My grades made a drastic improvement and I had a life again. But I had to bury that love of space and the hope of seeing it one day. (Unless I win the lottery. Then I am going into space dangit!!!)

    Very slowly after many, many years that love of space is seeping back into my life. I don't hide it away anymore. Because nothing has ever replaced it.

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  2. Congrats on your book, Erin -you know I'm so excited for you! And such a great cover, too. I have two parts to my dream, and I'm so lucky that the first one has been achieved. I am mother to two little boys, and I get to stay home full time with my youngest, which has always been something I wanted to do. The second part is a more recent addition. I started writing about a year ago, after spending a lifetime devouring every book I could get my hands one, especially romance. I still have a long, long way to go before, if ever, this new dream of be a career romance novelist is realized, but I think I'm headed in the right direction. :)

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  3. Wow, Beth - that is a lofty and wonderful dream! My whole family share a love of space - I can still remember being herded outside at 2 oclock in the morning at the age of 7 so my father could show us Haley's Comet :) I actually went to Space Camp when I was in 8th grade, and loved every second of it. And you know what? I think its great that our dreams change and grow as we move through life. It doesn't matter what those dreams are, so long as we keep reaching!

    PS - I loved the idea of going to space, all the way up until I ate one of those freeze-dried meals, lol!

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  4. Olivia - you are DEFINITELY headed in the right direction! Did you forget that I've read your wonderful work? :)
    I think it is fabulous that you were able to realize your dream of staying home with your son. And how great is it to be able to pursue both your dreams at once!

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  5. Pretty Woman!!!!

    My dream is to see my books in print and have lots of people read them. One day in the near future, I hope!

    AND CONGRATS ON THE BEAUTIFUL BOOK COVER!!!!! Everyone will love it and you'll be wildly successful. Don't forget about me, please?!

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  6. My dreams were to play in a professional symphony orchestra (got to do a lot of semi-professional playing in orchestras and jazz bands) and to write novels (first is published, second coming out very soon). Great topic!

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  7. How often I have quoted that Pretty Woman quote! I remeber in college one of the cafeteria workers calling me "Miss Hollywood" and he'd say "What's your dream Miss Hollywood?" I didn't know how he knew, but a year later I was living in LA, knocking on Hollywood's door.
    I am so very proud of you and excited for you -- the leap is never easy, but you have done it with an inspiring enthusiasm and passion and tenacity. And what an awesome story about that paper you wrote:) What an amazing journey you have been on...and I can't wait to see all that is to come as you continue on that journey! The cool (and sometimes infuriating) thing about dreams is that once you've reached one, you find there's always another one behind it! Kind of like the stars, I suppose, and this infinite universe of ours. "So keep on dreaming..."

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  8. Yes, it is indeed Pretty Woman, Marquita!! :) And, as someone who has read your work, I can tell you that your dreams will indeed come true - hopefully sooner rather than later!!

    And thank you - I am so pleased with the beautiful cover. Don't worry, my friend, I doubt anyone could ever forget you ;)

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  9. A musician and a writer?? Laura, I'm impressed! How wonderful that you have come so far in achieving both you dreams - you are truly an inspiration!

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  10. Ha, Kara - I guess you had Hollywood written all over you :) Thanks so much for your kind words and for continuing to be a source of inspiration. Yes, I agree whole heartedly that for every dream realized, there is a new one born. Never stop dreaming, no matter how successful or how old you may be!

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  11. Oh, I've known I wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old. Maybe even a little earlier. There was a small sprint in there where I had imagined I would be a famous ballerina but it didn't last long. I think I took on my mother's dream because she wanted that so much. In the end I found my true calling early and I can remember writing stories since I was young. Even if they made no sense to anyone else but me. By the age of twelve I had read my first romance and that was that, I knew exactly what kind of stories I wanted to write and I have pursued this dream diligently over the years since I was sixteen. Here's to dreaming big and taking big leaps. There's nothing more thrilling then spreading your wings to fly. Great blog, Erin. And omgosh I love, love, love that cover!

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  12. Quite honestly, Suzie, you are one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. I love your drive, determination, gumption, and plain old stick-to-it-ness! Kudos to you for never stop dreaming!

    And thanks so much about the cover! I'm still quite over the moon about it :)

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  13. Aww you're so sweet. It's the hardheaded Irish in me I think LOL. That and I'm a capricorn. I have my days like anyone else where I just feel like nothings going right but those are the days you have to buckle down and keep putting one foot in front of the other. And I honestly believe if life were easy we'd all get bored to death, right?

    This was such an inspiring topic, Erin. Makes me want to pull up my big girl pants and get to writing. But I've got a pile of laundry in the way lol.

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  14. Erin,

    I wanted to be a writer as early as fourth grade, but when it was time to go to college, I had it in my mind I could come back to writing. I needed to experience life a little first to have something to write about.

    I was drawn to psychology then social work, and I've always tackled the more challenging jobs. Now I feel like I've experienced more than enough to fill hundreds of books, but I'm not free to write like I want because of my other career. My dream is to hand in my resignation and write full time.

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  15. Well you are certainly well on your way to that goal, Samantha! Only a handful of months until that debut- I'm so excited for you :)

    I love that you are so willing to take on challenges. You are absolutely an inspiration to many, my dear :)

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