It was a dream come true. Hasn’t every child longed for the day his or her mother would say, “Eat as much candy as you like”? Our day had finally come. We were on a long drive—okay, as a child, basically anything longer than 10 minutes feels like a long drive—and, always the perfect children, there is absolutely no way we were complaining that we were hungry. It was simply through the kindness of her heart that Mom handed us a huge bag of peach licorice, telling us to help ourselves.
There were only six of us kids at that time, and we were pretty sure we were in heaven. Or that heaven had opened up and dropped manna down on us. We certainly ate it like it was the only food in a desert, afraid that at any moment Mom might realize what she had done and stop us. But she didn’t need to.
Slowly, as that huge bag of peach licorice diminished and piece after piece disappeared into our small bodies, we began to realize our mother was a genius. That sick feeling in the pits of our stomach told us that we were going to regret it, but it was an opportunity like no other. We couldn’t let that candy go to waste. We HAD. TO. FINISH. IT. On our honor as children.
Clearly, we would never make great soldiers, because, one by one, we surrendered, curled up in our car seats in disgust both at ourselves and the nausea in our stomachs. My twin brother, more valiant than the rest of us, was determined, and I am pretty sure he gagged as he choked down the last piece. But the deed was done. I think it was 15 years before I touched anything peach flavored again, and to this day everyone in that car (other than my devious mother) would die before eating peach licorice.
And on future car rides? If we complained about being hungry, all my mother had to do was sweetly offer to buy us some peach licorice.
Dreams don’t always go quite how we think, do they?
For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamt about writing full-time. I recall the blush of pride when, at approximately age 8, my older sister read part of the book I had started and ran downstairs to read it out loud to my parents, who kindly proclaimed it very good. It wasn’t, of course, but at that moment, like Emily Byrd Starr, my soul vowed to “climb the Alpine Path and write my name on the scroll of fame”, though of course, I didn’t know the language to express it that way yet. Even as a child, though, I knew, right along with Emily, that even if I never became famous, I would continue writing. Without it, I didn’t feel whole.
But I was also born with a good dose of realism, and I understood at a pretty young age that I couldn’t survive on writing—I also had to have a career. So, I built a career and occasionally wrote on the side, which, I think, is what most writers do. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I dreamed of the day I would retire and dedicate myself full-time to writing books because I didn’t have to worry about money any more.
Well, you already know what happened in the last few months. I’ve written almost endlessly about my struggle to obey God, and begin truly writing.
But here’s the thing. I am still surprised that dreams don’t always turn out how we think. Because, I don’t know about you, but I assumed that full-time writing meant I could just bury myself in my dream worlds and write story after story, without worrying about anything else in between except finding an agent. So, it’s taken awhile to adjust my thought patterns and realize that writing full-time is so much more.
I spend most of my time now working on building up my platforms—I created a Pinterest account for my books, renovated my website, created a Facebook page, updated my Instagram and twitter accounts, am contemplating how to make a marketing plan, and am beginning to research what type of articles to write on the side so I can survive long enough to actually write those stories that swirl around my heart.
Following dreams is a whole lot of work.
On some level, I think we all know that, and yet, I keep expecting it to be like a movie montage. Play an inspiring song, show the hero or heroine effortlessly completing steps, and voila! You make it. But that’s not actually the case. If you want a dream to come true, you have to be willing to put the time and work into it. To sacrifice leisure, energy, and maybe even other, lesser dreams to make it come true. And to accept that it could be years before it reaches the vision you are working towards. In many ways, I think that’s the most difficult part of working towards your dream. That you can work so hard for so long and have to work longer and harder still to reach it. The movie montages never show that nitty, gritty, step-building work.
But guess what? The real magic is in that step-building. Because it is in those steps that you build the discipline towards who you want to be. That you truly invest yourself in what you are creating. That you learn to give yourself and your work to God over and over again. That others watch you and take courage. That you can truly make a difference in the lives of others—because if you can do it, so can they. If you have frustrating times, it’s okay when they do too. And if you have moments when you stop, look around, and rejoice over the beauty surrounding you as you realize you are a few steps higher on the Alpine path, they know they can have those moments too.
It is in the hard work of climbing towards that scroll—that dream—that the everyday miracles take place in your life and those around you. So I’m slowly learning to embrace it, knowing that the harder it is, the better it will be.