On Dreams

Dreams. It’s hard to know what to tell my kids about following their dreams. I spent years off and on following my dreams. I lost all of our money years ago pursuing a dream of being a financially stable business owner. I spent a few years working full time as a freelance writer and trying to make writing be the focus of my work life– and what supports the family. I failed.

It was so disheartening to feel like I was on the right path, again, doing what I loved, again, and then failing. Again. And my family was growing and I needed to be supporting them and we were so lucky that Annemarie had found a great job she could get paid to do while working from home.

So after grieving the defeat of another dream, I went back to work. And really put my head down after making a serious plan with Annemarie. We pushed at that plan and it came to fruition ten months later with me landing my first real job with actual benefits that wasn’t teaching in a classroom (which I love, but will never pay me properly). Things got better as we stayed focused and worked with real purpose. Daily effort towards our goal lifted us- and it was awesome.

Then extraordinary and life-changing 2014 happened and we made it through. We were changed. Broken and rebuilt better. And off we went on this Amazon and Washington/Seattle/but really a small town adventure. It’s harder than I thought it would be. It’s so taxing and I feel so exhausted sometimes and my bed is only a few steps away. But not yet. I have writing to do because making a good living as a writer is the only real, important dream that hasn’t come true for me yet and I don’t have any reason to not make it happen. (I only had one other dream by the way: have a family.)

So, I’ve been thinking about dreams and work, probably because I feel like I’m almost always doing it. I guess there are a few things I used to imagine about having my writing dream come true that I want to comment on.

  1. Publishing a book will be the culmination of my writerly hopes and dreams!

It’s not. It’s the beginning. Actually, it’s not even the beginning. The beginning was when I chose the career dream of being a well-paid full-time writer. Publishing my first book was wonderful and a dream come true but it’s a milestone more than anything else. And like all milestones, it’s green and metal and you pass it pretty fast.

Okay, the passing it pretty fast thing is the truth. It goes and you realize.. wait, I have more work to do.

So back to work I go.

2. Everybody I know is fully invested in my dreams!

Not true. Many people I know are somewhat invested in my dreams because they’re wonderful people who just never seem to run out of space in their beautiful hearts. And if they can spare a ‘Like’ on Facebook, that’s really actually great of them. If they comment, that’s very sweet. If they buy one of my books- that’s near saintly. And reviewing? That’s worthy of deification.

This isn’t to say you’re on your own. You have love and support and people who won’t give up on you.

But you are on your own. You want this? You want to reach your dream? You’re on your own. (Unless you get ridiculously lucky- and frankly that luck might just ruin you as a person.) Your fingers type those words. Your feet run those miles. Your hands build that business plan. So draw on your support when you can, but remember- you want this thing. It’s entirely up to you.

So it’s back to work.

3. I’ll be satisfied if I can just get a book published!

Nope. Not a chance. You’ll be so giddy you jump out of your skin. It will hit you multiple times and it will feel surreal and it will be immensely gratifying. You should pause and soak in the beautiful validating experience. Own it, recognize it. 

Then accept that the feeling passes. You’re not satisfied and you shouldn’t be. You see those bestsellers? Those people who work their butts off to write stuff that is sometimes better than yours and sometimes not as good?

You want to be that. You want to do that.

So it’s back to work.

What I’m saying is that dreams are a spark in life. They’re not something to be ignored or shuffled aside for practicality’s sake. We should follow our dreams. I think we must, that by doing so we stay young and maintain the ability to see and feel wonder and awe and pure excitement.

But the saying that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life is popular garbage. Realizing dreams is non-stop work. It’s daily homework. It’s exhausting and what is spare time, anyway?

It is work, it is work, it is work. It’s delicious exhaustion. It’s a passionate daily grind. It’s a boring daily grind sometimes too.

I will tell you that choosing the work that I do with my life, the place I put my best energy, is the greatest feeling ever. I look forward to the day that it is my only career. But until then, I’m going to keep working daily. I’ll take appropriate breaks and I’ll enjoy the ride, to be sure.

So I guess I’ll tell my kids that dreams can become reality. Those dreams becoming reality looks a lot like work.

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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