Living the Dream

I once believed that ‘living the dream’ meant acquiring all you had hoped for.  The struggle was over.  Your ship had come in.  You had arrived!  But I discovered the dream is a journey, not a destination.  And even though I don’t own a country estate or can quit my day job to become a full-time author I am loving the ride!

As a 30-year programming veteran, one would think I’d have my fill of computers by the end of the day. Co-workers often asked why, after eight hours of crunching code, would I want to burn precious time off at another computer grinding out a story. At first, I answered (only half-jokingly) that I didn’t have a life and had decided to sit down and dream one up. But the truth is, I’ve always been a notorious daydreamer with a vivid imagination. Writing is fun!  It’s an escape.  Like a time machine, a good story sweeps writer and reader alike to a whole different world.  And when the Muse starts talking I start typing.

Early in life I knew I would become an author. Between grade school assignments I penned stories, and to my delight was often asked to read them to the class. In a second grade operetta, my character was the only one that didn’t have a song, so I composed one.  High school, however, brought other interests and my dream took a back seat.

Then in 1988 the bug bit hard. I started a western based on an incident in my dad’s life when he was ten.  Too often when I sat down to write, however, my mind became as blank as the page I was staring at.  A community college writing professor provided the solution.  We were to spend the first ten minutes of every class writing and, if no ideas came, we were to write, “I can’t think of a single thing, but the prof says we have to write about something for ten minutes.”  Ideas would come, he promised, and he was right!  I sat down at that computer every evening, and soon what should have been a short story became a 300-page novel. The plot posed some problems, so I put it aside for later. A new story had presented itself and I eagerly set to work.

Lord of the Rings had just come out on DVD. I loved the books, but found the movie SENSATIONAL! Somewhere between The Two Towers and The Return of the King I envisioned a young woman in a blue cotton dress standing outside a ramshackle cottage. Dry grass surrounded her, and behind her an old dead tree raised gnarled white branches to the sky. She stared into the sunset, contemplating where she could go. Danger lurked along every path, and none of the surrounding kingdoms welcomed strangers. I didn’t know whether she was simply unhappy or in mortal danger. But as the plot and her character developed, I discovered the tragedy she had endured and how desperately wicked were the demons assailing her.  A story of human resilience, faith, and victory emerged, set in a beautiful enchanted world full of intriguing characters.

I’m learning a lot on this journey and am grateful to friends, family, and fellow authors for their help and encouragement.  If I could offer one bit of advice it would be this:  Don’t be afraid to try something you’ve yearned to do.  Whatever your dream, pursue it!

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