Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dreams Deferred and Dreamt Again



My friend Jeff has left his job, his home and his wife (only by proximity) to pursue his dream of acting in L.A. He has been living with a friend's parents in a spare bedroom in Los Angeles for 172 days now. He's a funny guy. Seriously, he does comedy improv and writes and is a genuinely entertaining human being. He blogs every day and many of his posts have been hilarious accounts of the day to day minutia of trying to become a big star. Or in his case, just be gainfully employed in a profession that is notoriously difficult to break into let alone be successful at.

These are obstacles that would perhaps drive a lesser spirit to drink. Of course, he can't afford that; he has no job. His wife is still here and employed and keeping the home fires burning while he spends (a year maybe?) making this attempt to follow his dreams.

His wife supports him.

His wife is a saint.

While many of his posts are funny, others are heart breaking and seemingly soul crushing in the slowness that things seem to be developing. Here he had become a big fish in a small pond, there he's a guppy in the sea and just hoping to get caught in a gill net of stardom and pulled to the surface. He's a hero basically.

He doesn't have a cape or tights (dear God I hope not anyway) but would be willing to don one if the occasion should arise. He is putting his money where his mouth is and his words into action and every day taking steps in a positive direction towards an end goal. A passion. A dream.

Wouldn't we all be better served by life to take just an iota of the chance he's taking to pursue a dream? Remember when you were small or in junior high and you really thought you could pursue anything as a career if you wanted to? Maybe some people didn't feel that way.I'm guessing for most of us our spirits and dreams didn't get crushed or pushed aside or covered up until we started working jobs. Jobs that eventually turned into careers, that no matter how interesting or fulfilling, locked us into the golden handcuffs of needing, buying and acquiring more and which in turn forced us to work more and more and push those dreams farther and farther away.

Sometimes we might have even given up on those dreams as the folly of childhood. Or sometimes, maybe something can provide us with the tiniest spark and reignite that lost or deferred dream and now, as adults, who can control our action, time and other resources to a much higher degree and we can pursue them in a way that will serve us better than they ever would have then.

I don't remember at what point I became interested in reading and writing but it was probably around sixth grade that my interest started to be more than passing. At some point I remember my parents bought me an electric typewriter and that was about the coolest piece of equipment I had ever owned. I typed many, many sad junior high girl poems on that typewriter.

I typed lots of other things on it too. Eventually I typed articles for the local newspaper about my family and funny aspects of my life. They got published. I got a column. I also really liked to read. I read all sorts of books from our school library and whenever a subject interested me I checked out everything they had and poured over the pages. I ordered catalogs and consumer information government brochures on all sorts of subjects. The only bad thing about this passion is that I have a horrible memory. I wish I could retain much more of what I read. Instead I have become a hoarder of information and paper and books for reference which of course in my complete lack of a logical filing system are rarely ever referenced again.

Thank God for the internet,  DSL and the grid because now if I want to know something or look something up I have long ago forgotten, it's at my fingertips and in that giant filing cabinet in the sky somewhere... or maybe the Cloud.

I came across an awesome note taking site called Evernote thanks to Rachel's blog I read regularly called Small Notebook . You can even take pics of pages of books, magazines, anything with your iPhone and file them into different notebooks within the site and then reference them on your phone or computer (it syncs up).

So all of this to say, that last summer I got the writing bug again after reading maybe a hundred paranormal romances and decided to try my hand at it. Every time I read one of those books, I think "I could have done that". Last July I started a vampire paranormal romance that went along pretty well for a first real attempt for about 113 pages and then stalled. I got sort of stuck and it seemed too difficult to try to fit writing into my list of things to do.

Now some of my problem could be because of the whole "starter" vs. "sustainer" handicap I seem to have but I think I can stick it out and see it through if I know there is an attainable end goal and a tangible product of success to be had.

Last week I got an idea for a different paranormal romance and started working on it in a notebook. A real paper notebook. It's much, much more portable and doesn't have to be plugged in. This new novel attempt is not vampires which is probably good because by the time I get that vampire book written the craze will have passed and I'll have to wait another decade for them to be hot again.  These new characters just haven't shut up yet and I see lots of potential for not just one book but a series of them. I've been stealing time and staying up late to work on it this week and I already have 45 pages. Three hundred pages or around 80,000 words is a typical paperback novel size.

I think it's probably every English degree holder's eventual and perhaps latent dream to write a novel. Is this paranormal romance going to be the Great American Novel? Not likely. But it will sure make some monster romance lovers happy. And me happy.

Even if it never get's finished or dies on the vine, it has been nice to revisit a dream deferred and to feel the excitement I remember feeling from all those hours locked in my room in my childhood home tapping away on the keyboard of that old electric typewriter. The toys and tools are much cooler now and hopefully my writing is much better. No more depressing poetry anyway.

My pursuit of a dream is much less dramatic and not nearly as dangerous or courageous as Jeff's. The worst thing that's probably going to happen while following my dream is that my family will have to eat more Ramen noodles because I want to write instead of cook supper. I'm no super hero.

Stay tuned for the next chapter.

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