For as long as I can remember, perhaps since the first time I read one, I’ve wanted to write a book.
When I was a child, when a book I loved ended and I began missing the characters who’d so recently occupied my mind and my imagination, I’d try to continue the story — write my own sequels or perhaps a different ending.
Did I invent fan fiction? Doubtful. Unfortunately, like most attempts at the genre, my stories paled in comparison to the original.
As a young adult and new mother, I again took up the pen. When I could, I’d spend hours in local or university libraries researching the hapless Hapsburgs and their rise to the throne of Mexico, the laws governing unwed mothers in the 1960s, or the journals of seafaring captains who sailed the world from Portland Harbor.
Other than pages and pages of notes, and maybe a few random chapters, those stories fell by the wayside. There was always something more important than chasing dreams.
When I began writing articles for magazines, and then came on board at the Times News, I stopped trying to write fiction. I didn’t think I could master the art of creative writing while also writing news. For the past 20 years, and hopefully for much longer, I’ve been lucky enough to make a living doing something I love.
But I never let go of that dream.
Three years ago, on my birthday in fact, I gave myself a present: I decided it was time to make my dream come true.
I got up that morning, sat down at my computer, and began to write. The words poured out of me like never before, and when my husband came home from work nine hours later, I was still there, still in my nightgown, writing.
I’d written more in that one day than I had in any of my previous attempts combined. Having taken a four-day birthday weekend, I got up the next morning and picked up where I left off. I did the same on Saturday. And again on Sunday.
Since then, my nights and weekends are more of the same. The muse comes and goes, but she’s never too far away.
The thing about chasing dreams is that it’s not easy, which is probably why we appreciate them more when we catch them.
It’s been a long road with more highs and lows than I ever could have imagined. Fortunately, the highs have been many, and the lows, only a handful. But still, it’s scary putting yourself out there, to be judged or criticized.
The reality is that it just makes the fruit that much sweeter.
Over the past three years, I not only wrote “a” book, I wrote a trilogy. The first one will be published next month. I’m proud, scared, nauseated, nervous, excited — you name it, but I did it.
Am I suggesting everyone go out and write a book? Of course not. That is unless you want to.
What I am saying is don’t wait to chase your dreams. Our time here is finite. For some of us, tomorrow never comes. If you have a dream, go out and grab it, whatever it is. And don’t stop until it’s yours. We each have it in us. If we want something bad enough, we can find a way.
There is a song by Staind, “Believe,” written by Aaron Lewis, that has not only resonated with me on this journey, it often reduces me to tears, especially these lines:
“Believe in me. This life’s not only what it seems. Believe in me, ’cause I was meant for chasing dreams.”
I was definitely meant for chasing dreams. And so are you.