I was recently invited to share my experience of moving from dream to reality with a group of Red Hat Society Queens (Not that kind of Queen but like president!) I turned to my dictionary for help.
Dream: 1. A succession of images, thoughts or emotions occurring during sleep;2. A daydream or reverie; 3. A goal or aim; 4. A wild fancy; 5. Something of unreal beauty; ….to devise or concoct.
In MAN OF LA MANCHA, we were encouraged to “dream the impossible dream” and some of us were already doing that. Dorothy adventured into Oz knowing that “dreams really do come true.” I was slow to evolve my dream, to be able to believe and act on my hidden gift with words. Raised in the post WWII 1950’s, I thought my options for a career were to be a secretary, a nurse or a teacher. I found social work at 14 when I read Jane Addams’ TWENTY YEARS AT HULL HOUSE, and went on to gain the necessary education and skills; I worked for forty years as the primary bread-winner for my family of four and felt entrapped.
An avid reader, I was fascinated with the structure of words and sentences turned into poetry and prose which came so hard for me to put down at paper. Finally, at the end of college and in grad school, I could do a first and last draft of a term paper in one swoop. Still it didn’t occur to me to try my brain and hand at fiction.
By my forties, in the early eighties, I wrote some poetry and short stories, some of which I shared. Short stories were doable in my three day weekends as I balanced the needs of the family, job and housekeeping. I started taking classes and attending conferences to learn my craft. Another trip into Arizona and New Mexico in the late ‘80’s brought the inspiration for the Huachuca Trilogy. While still working at a very demanding job, I began the research and imagining of the characters who would populate my books. I took photos, kept journals, read extensively, and learned my craft.
As I wrote more, I submitted to agents and book publishers as was the method to get to publication at that time. It was a hard, impossible row to hoe! Self-publishing was called Vanity Press for which the author put up considerable funds to have just about anything see the light of day, often unedited, unpolished and, sometimes, unreadable. I investigated and turned away. Still writing and submitting, by now I was a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Women Writing the West, and eventually the Historical Novel Society and Redwood Writers chapter of the 100 year old CA Writers Club. I wrote book reviews,chaired or coordinated writing contests, entered contests and anthologies, and have been in a critique group for the last six years. I was paying my dues.
One more rejection from an agent who “loved” my work made me turn to the new self-publishing phenomena called Create Space and Kindle. The first two books are out and the third will see print before much longer.
To go from Dream to Reality, no matter your age or experience, I suggest this path:
- Believe in yourself—throw fear and cowardness away; don’t let others or yourself talk you out of the pursuit
- Define your goal…whether a small business, an art form, travel or whatever your heart desires…listen to your heart
- Seek like-minded people, organizations, classes and explore that dream
- Learn your craft, practice it, expose yourself to critique or advice
- Refine your dream as you go; be open to new ideas and visions as your dream expands
- Dream your next dream…in my case a book of short stories, a return to a WWII novel left unfinished, a chapbook of poems.