I have been re-reading some of my old blog posts and as silly as it might sound, I am going to quote my own words in this current post. It’s not that what I said was particularly profound, but the words made me think, helped me remember why I am doing what I do, and puts any residual imposter syndromes (Imposter Syndrome Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) back into perspective. Eliminating self-doubt is impossible, maintaining a positive focus is not.
In that previous post I wrote I thought of life as “an elevator, or a lift. It goes up; it comes down. All it takes is the press of a button. Sometimes the trip seems to take forever, and we get hurt in the process. So, why re-press that button, and re-take the risk?
I wanted a different direction in my life, and I wanted to prove it could be done. Not just for my sake, but for anybody out there afraid to follow their dreams. To follow a dream is to take a leap into the unknown. Jump and we might make it, or at worst make it to a reasonable distance. Don’t jump and we will always wonder, what if?” Is there anything worse than not knowing?
Do any of you remember a song Elvis made famous entitled “Follow that dream”? Dreams, the lyrics explain, call us and we need to follow and discover where that dream may lead. I had no idea how entrenched this idea would become inside my head. Do you know what else I had no idea about? I didn’t know how often these words would help me when I faltered, and I faltered often, and I continue to falter. Just when I feel confident to go on, something or someone comes along and I hesitate. You see the bigger the dream, the deeper the water you find yourself in. Treading water becomes a chore, and staying afloat difficult beyond words.
Attempting something new, no matter that the heart may want it, has no guarantees. Success is not the problem. We can get to that. Making errors is the problem. It’s a bumpy ride. We make mistakes, wrong decisions, struggle as we learn the ropes. Having a dream doesn’t automatically give you the tools, and those errors are brutal.
“I love to read, I love to write, and I love to edit. What don’t I love? Errors.” I read this somewhere. It doesn’t matter where. As a self-published author I knew exactly what was meant. You see some of us that are following that dream can’t afford professional input except at a basic level. Errors, we are told, can jar the reader back to their harsh reality. I call BS on that and I don’t mean my initials.
Don’t misunderstand, I am not condoning errors, and I am not advocating sub-standard work, but I think creating a connection, a real thread for the reader to grab and follow is more important. We learn from mistakes so we can be a little forgiving, but that connection, it has to be there. It is the ability to create a connection to the reader that makes the fiction live.
Getting it right is hard. Trying must go hand in hand with a willingness to improve. When we follow that dream we commit, even when wondering what the heck we have got ourselves into – remember that deep water? We can’t survive it if we are not willing to give our best and unfortunately our best can be complicated, but we can’t survive if we don’t follow our dreams either. Well, we can if we pay the price of a life half-lived. We need to find a balance.
Having established that barriers exist, do we then wait for the right moment, the better, more practical, user-friendly moment, and remember this is not just about writers? So I ask you, do we wait? And I answer myself, for what? When is it the right time? For me personally, should I not have attempted this adventure? Should I have shied away from writing and kept working at something else until I could afford professional input? Should I have struggled for the time to write while working at something else? Perhaps, but I’m not a young person so my time is limited. I wonder how many of you out there face this, and I wonder if you feel guilty like I do for wanting more?
For me, it is clearly a catch 22. Do I follow my dreams or live my life never trying because I haven’t got all the tools yet? I have already lived over half my life without my dreams.
Perhaps the answer is not at all about our dreams. What if the answer lies in those around us, as much as what we want. Perhaps we need to be patient and encouraging with dreamers. Perhaps we should be willing to review (yes, I am taking the opportunity to push reviews, they are the key to improving in any profession) and offer suggestions to anyone, anyone in that deep water. Perhaps we need to think more about keeping that fledgling afloat by offering support so their adaptions are less traumatic.
Is it our responsibility to support the choices of others? I don’t know, do you? But, if you are a dream follower, don’t you deserve a chance? To get, we need to give but then, what do I know? I base this purely on the idea of walking in someone else’s moccasins (more about this another blog post) but I think you get the idea.
I do know however, choosing the right words, or spelling things correctly will not give a book a connection to a reader. The right schools, the right clothes, the perfect presentation doesn’t make that professional, a professional. It is the feelings behind what we do, the emotions, the way the characters in the drama (real or otherwise, us or them) behave that transports from the current world into a new one. If those feelings are real, if our reasons are real, people will know and may just give us a chance. Outside and inside the writing world, it is support that pulls out the best in us.
I only know about writing (or maybe I don’t) so I use that to discuss things, and with writing I know my heart is in it and when it is supported, the rest will come. I think this applies to any dream. That’s just what I think. What do you think?
Till Next time,
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