Chasing the Dream
We’re all chasing something in life. For some of us, it’s the dream to be a successful writer. For others it could be finding the perfect person to spend their life with. Others, maybe to make it as a band. It’s different for us all. For me, the goal has always been more than just making some bestseller list, although that would be incredible.
While I do want to see my books truly take off, to me it’s always been more about providing for my family. To that end, I’ve worked hard my entire life. Some jobs I’ve enjoyed while others…well…not so much. But the one thing I’ve always dreamed of is being a writer. Since the early days when I was a child on that little farm north of Lebanon, Missouri, I’ve dreamed of books.
My mother always read to me and she was an avid reader. She gave me that deep love of writing and of the written word. From the earliest days I can remember, I would try my hand at writing poems, short-stories and scenes that I thought were awesome at the time, but in reality had to have been terrible. I was five, so hey, bear with me.
My earliest memories of books I enjoyed centered around horses. I love horses. I miss getting the chance to ride. I read stories about horses and that featured horses in them. That branched out into westerns and cowboy books, then tales of the frontier and the Wild West. That led me to Jack London and brought with it a deep desire to see the deep wilderness of Alaska. Of seeing the places that were untouched by man and existed as they had for centuries. I feel the “Call of the Wild.”
As I grew, my literary journey took me into JRR Tolkien, Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, and many others in the fantasy genre. I also explored Sci-Fi and went to strange places with Robert Heinlein, Phillip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov and others. My horizons continued to expand. My visions of my own writing continued to grow and change with each new literary experience.
All through this time, I continued to write poems and short-stories, and they were beginning to get better. I had several teachers tell me that I had the potential to be a great writer. It was all the encouragement a young mind needed and it really set me on the path to where I am today. Not that I’m exactly on any bestsellers lists. At least, not yet.
My point is, and yes there is one, that we all have dreams to chase. And just because they seem distant and unattainable doesn’t mean we should give up on them. I once heard a phrase that said, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” I believe that’s true. It feeds my own desire to write, to keep putting out books and to keep reaching for the stars.
I’m fifty years old. I’ve wanted to be a writer for most of that time. I didn’t publish my first novel until I was forty-two. It took years of writing badly, sometimes horribly, before perseverance won out and I felt my writing was good enough to submit to a publisher. Even then, there was so many “thanks but no thanks” letters that I had to get through. Even then, I didn’t give up. I kept working and chasing that dream.
In 2012, it happened. One of the no’s became a yes. I published my first novel in July of 2012 and I haven’t looked back. I now have sixteen books in print and I have no desire to stop there. One of my idols as a writer is Cormac McCarthy. He’s in his 90’s and still writing books. So, barring anything unforeseeable, I’m planning on following in his footsteps. That means I’ve got at least another forty years to keep putting out books and improving my craft.
I never gave up on that dream and I’m still chasing it. I still have so many things I want to do and to write. They’re not just for me. They’re for my family. I want to leave them something that can last far longer than I possibly could. Writing is my legacy for them. To leave them something that they can show their children and grandchildren. Something to pass on that’s more than just stuff. Stories connect us to each other. The thought of my own great-grandchildren reading something I wrote and feeling the emotions that I put into the stories…that’s something tangible. That’s the best thing I could hope for.
Keep chasing those dreams. If it’s something you truly want, something you truly believe in, then keep going after it. With hard work and perseverance, dreams can become reality. I can’t promise that it will happen overnight. Nothing worth pursuing comes easy. Keep swinging for the fence.
A wise man once told me, “Who must do the hard things? He who can.”
I’ve never forgotten that and it’s kept me going when I thought I couldn’t anymore. We all have moments of weakness. It’s natural and we all have them. Don’t give up and keep reaching for the stars. You will get there. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. You can do it. I believe in you. So should you.
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