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 :)