When I grow up, I want to be a writer. A writer? you ask. Yes, a writer. But aren’t I already a “writer” given I “write” all the time? Well, yes, technically. But someday, I want to be a lucrative writer. Not just a day-dreamer with an Internet connection.
So, last week, my husband surprised me with the most amazing gift I’ve ever received. He sent me to the Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference this weekend. It was three days of full immersion in a community of brilliant, creative, funny, and knowledgeable writers, agents, and publishers. Without question, it was the most valuable use of time and money I have ever spent. On anything. And especially on my fantastic desires to be an author when I grow up.
I can’t even tell you all of the fascinating conversations I had with children’s book editors and literary agents. The workshops I attended to sharpen my writing skills and practice how to vividly “show” my readers my story through their five senses, rather than “telling” them through my summarized version of reality. The books I bought to help me hone my craft and become a better (and someday, perhaps even published) author. “Amazing” doesn’t even begin to describe the experience of standing at the edge of a dream that is unfolding like a brightly colored treasure map before my eyes.
I’ve wanted to attend this conference since I wrote my children’s story five years ago. But it is hard to sacrifice a weekend away from my family with so few precious hours to spend with my husband and children during the rest of the week. This weekend, however, I was richly rewarded for investing that time–with the people I met, the conversations I had, and the opportunities I discovered.
Then, as I was driving home, realizing that it is Sunday afternoon and my alarm clock is going to be buzzing extra early tomorrow morning to shock me out of bed and force me back into the reality of my day job–which you could also argue is the job of a writer (minus all creativity)–the harsh reality struck me. I don’t have time to be a full-time writer, because I am a full-time mother and a full-time wife with a full-time real job that puts food on the table. And, the one thing that rang true over and over again this weekend is that becoming a published author is, indeed, a full-time job.
So, I took those dreams of publishing and filed them neatly in the treasure chest that has been buried at the bottom of the ocean for my entire life. Then, I turned the lock with a key that was immediately dropped back into the shark-infested waters from whence it came.
It’s not that I’ve given up on my dreams entirely. It’s that I’ve got to draw the treasure map to get me from the edge of this dream to the “X” that marks the spot where I will eventually arrive. And that journey takes a while.
Minimizing instant gratification. That is what I learned this weekend. It’s a good thing that I believe persistence and patience are the paths to finding that place where dreams come true.