Here’s the difference between having a dream and following a dream – when you actively begin to hunt it down, its damn hard work to stay positive during the whole drawn out, rollercoaster of an experience.
For as long as I can recall, I have wanted to be a writer. As a child I loved losing myself in the written word, painting a picture via paragraphs and sentences and letting my imagination happily drift along were the things I treasured most.
I remember once telling my beloved Pop, when I was about 8, that I was going to be an author when I grew up. He scoffed, “You’ll never make any money doing that. You don’t want to be broke the rest of your life do you?” Harsh as that sounds, I know it was coming from a place of love. You see my hard-working Pop started with nothing, living in a mud-thatched hut, only to have five houses to his name by the time he lost his battle with skin cancer in 2005. He knew the value of money, because he understood too well the bitterness of being broke.
Recently it’s become clear to me that my current hiatus from the paid working world is going to have to come to a halt. Sure, people throw in their well-paid gigs in order to go realise their greatest employment goals all the time. But the reality is when you are jointly responsible for having a family to feed, bills to pay and a roof to keep over your head, suddenly the six months of “finding my writing voice” feels like a luxury I can no longer afford to grant myself.
But, as the husband was quick to point out, all is not lost on this front. Not only will I have to be more creative about how I go about the process, but also a bit more structured and determined too. Alongside my roles of wife, mother and seemingly single-handedly running every facet of this house if I am serious about this dream, then I should still be able to see it come to fruition.
This is where the crisis of confidence crossroads kicks in. Am I kidding myself that I am actually cut out for this quest? My husband, who has accomplished great things in the career I covet most, is quick to tell me it’s a cut-throat industry, the paid writing world. You need a thick skin to survive it. And sadly, more often than not my skin is paper thin.
The doubts are creeping in faster than the complaints on carbon tax. “Maybe you aren’t as special as you think… maybe you have been kidding yourself all these years that you have something to offer to the world in this field”. And I don’t say these things with the intention or hook of fishing for compliments. They are very real concerns of mine as I wrestle with the reality of trying to achieve this dream.
Confronting these demons the past few days has left me reeling – for so long I have nurtured the knowledge close to my heart that writing is my gift. It’s the one thing I can stand back and be proud of. The one thing that I can wrap my arms around and be secure in the knowledge it’s what can set me apart.
Now I fear that because I am leaving this run towards my ultimate career goal so late, perhaps the train to triumph has long ago left town. Have I blown my chance? Is there such a thing as a second shot at your dream later in life? Oh how I sometimes want to slap that 17-year-old self, so homesick, so lovesick, so naïve that she stepped away from the cusp of a dream. She made her life so much harder, career-wise, 15 years on. The only blessing I can comfort myself with is that without that massive mistake it may not have led her, years later, to The Husband. And hands down he is worth making that error in judgement.
As Oprah wisely orates, if you don’t do something that you love, a little part of you dies every day. And I am scared as hell that will ring true for yours truly. She also acknowledges it is the courageous ones who fought to realise their dreams who enjoy the tastiest success. At my core, I know it’s what matters to me. To be a writer. To see my name emblazoned on to a book that is of my own making, or attached to the by-line of an article I’ve painstakingly researched and written.
And with that in mind I shall soldier on with the battle that has been both the bane and beauty of my existence for many years now. Some days I’ll approach it with my sword held high and on others be found cowering behind my shield. No doubt chasing down this dream will at times challenge, frustrate, demoralise and deplete me. But I assume (I HOPE!) that if I persevere with the process of pursuing it, with whatever snippets of time I can dedicate to it, it will be much more worthwhile once realised.
So if you could kindly pass me my armour, I’ll ready myself for war once more.