Dreaming Out Loud

images-1Other people cannot read my mind. This fact seems perfectly obvious, but sometimes I overlook it. Especially when my cherished hopes and dreams are involved. Afraid someone might laugh, I keep quiet. Then, I get frustrated that no one helps me reach my goals. As if people should be able to see inside my head and know what I want!

It took me years to admit out loud that I wanted to be a writer. It was my carefully guarded secret, and it should have come as no surprise that people had all kinds of other plans for me. They weren’t rejecting my dream, they were simply busy pursuing their own projects and responsibilities.

From time to time, I would drop a hint, in hopes that someone might latch onto my dream and promote it for me. This tactic produced no results, and I finally came to understand that it’s my job to be the spokesman for my goals. Why should anyone else care about my dream if I’m not willing to claim it, own it and champion it?

When I finally began saying “I want to be a writer,” I felt awkward and foolish. Surely no one would take me seriously when I had no credentials to my name! Thankfully, everyone was gentle with my fumbling attempts to bring my dream out into the open. They listened and asked polite questions. Although my answers were tentative and jumbled, no one laughed.

Even if some had laughed, it would have been worth it, because the more I talked, the better I understood my goals. As I searched for words to explain myself, the dream solidified into a clear game plan, which I outlined in detail whenever anyone asked “How’s your writing going?” The more I shared my plans, the more support I received from others. Friends and family became my eyes and ears, scouting for story ideas. Acquaintances steered me to resources to improve my writing. My son gave me a new desk for Christmas and my husband became my in-house proofreader.

When I finally managed to get a few stories published, I discovered a whole new dimension of support: encouragement from strangers. At a public gathering, a woman I barely knew seemed to be staring at me from across the room. “Oh no,” I thought, “did I do something to offend her? Do I have food on my face? Why is she looking at me?”

Eventually, she approached and asked, “Didn’t you have a story in Guideposts Magazine?” There was an approving light in her eyes. She was interested in what I had written and wanted to know more about my work. My work!  What a beautiful phrase!

 

Comments

  1. Bethany Lee says:

    Your son gave you a desk?

  2. Yes. The Nud bought me a computer desk from IKEA.

  3. Great post, Connie.

    Do you remember Jane Rubietta said something about never being afraid to say we’re writers? I remember thinking the same thing you just said, it was like a well kept secret. What was I afraid of? That people would laugh at me? And so what if they did?

    Why is it harder to say than:
    “I’m a teacher” or
    “reporter”, or
    “customer service rep.”

    What do these three have in common? These are all occupation. And so is being a writer.

    Lately, I’m more able and comfortable to say I’m a writer. It feels funny and even a little odd sometimes. Not sure why. But just like there’s nothing odd about being a teacher, reporter, or customer service rep, there’s nothing odd about being a writer.

    Embrace it.

  4. I think one of the reasons we feel odd saying “I’m a writer” is that our job doesn’t have a steady paycheck attached to it. Most of us can’t claim to be supporting ourselves by our writing income, so that makes it seem like a hobby rather than a job. I’ve drawn a lot of comfort from watching my son Andrew go through the experience of starting his own software company. He was a “starving entrepreneur” for several years, living off his savings and eating Ramen noodles. He was going around introducing himself as the CEO of a company long before he was making enough to live on. Now his company is doing well and is supporting not only himself, but several employees. I keep telling myself the time I spend writing is an investment in building a career that will eventually be profitable. But as Christian writers, even that is problematic. Is our writing a ministry or a business? We don’t fit uniquely into a pre-determined niche.

  5. I love this post. Especially when you get down to the question: Is our writing a ministry or business. For me it is both. Jeff Goins says if you write, you are a writer. It isn’t tied to the money. It is tied to the activity. You are a writer. A good writer.

  6. Thank you Rebecca for the Jeff Goins quote. I write. I am a writer.
    It certainly feels like a calling and I want to give it my best effort.

  7. Penny Goldman says:

    I absolutely love it. Thank you for sharing your unknown thoughts. You have always, always had the words for me and for others. I found it amazing that you had the thoughts that you had. But then, I think we are usually our own worst enemy.
    Keep writing. You inspire me and all the people who know you Connie. You are the BEST.

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