I’ve always wanted to be a fiction writer. It was something that I think I started to dream of in eighth grade. I saw myself telling tales with lots of drama, fairies, mystery, and romance. I found every genre to be exciting and something I could see myself writing and publishing one day. But as a child, no one told me, “Follow your dreams.”
That was as an eighth grader. I was a good visualizer then. Something in my late thirties I realized I needed to revisit. Who knew as an adult you could forget to visualize your hopes and dreams? But that’s a topic for another article.
During high school, I focused on my writing in my English classes but that’s about it. Then I went to college and focused on my future career, in which fictional writing never seemed to even be an option. I’m not sure how it was decided, but from the beginning, it was always said that my major would be communications. I did get a minor in English writing, but that was very different than what I wanted to do. My classes were about the classics – nothing modern and exciting like I enjoyed. And somehow I also got a minor in marine biology – go figure.
Over the next two decades, I found that I would write on and off once in a while. I would take a writing class, I’d play around with poetry or just read a lot. But I never took it seriously. At the time I think I felt like others didn’t take me seriously.
Now that I look back on it though, I know that isn’t the truth. The truth is, I didn’t take myself seriously. It was safer for me to keep that dream tucked safely inside of me instead of trying to realize it. That way I could protect myself from failure. If I kept it hidden away then no one could tell me I wasn’t good at it.
The best writing class I took was a few years after my father died. I was living in New York City and took an adult program for writing fiction. And I wrote the story of my father’s death. Unfortunately, I didn’t really focus on my writing skills or even fiction since I was writing nonfiction – and trying to pass it off as fiction. The reality is that I was grieving and that’s what came out on the paper. That was my last writing class for over 15 years.
Several years went by after that class before I even considered starting a new story. And before I knew it two decades went by without me so much as having 30 pages of anything solid. At this point, I was now in my mid-30s with nothing to show for my passion. I moped about that for a few more years, because why not, right? Fell deep into imposter syndrome, and then one day sat at my keyboard and started typing away.
Something took over, it was like a dam broke free, and all of my creative juices flowed out of me, through my fingertips, and a story materialized on my computer screen.
I purchased a tiny antique desk and put it in the corner of my dining room and would sit there for hours on my days off and type away. All I had went into a western romance until I had nowhere else to go with the story. I didn’t start with an outline, develop a well-thought-out plot, or focus on any real writing techniques. I just let the story pour out of me. And I loved every moment of it.
Hours would pass by, I’d forget to eat lunch. My eyes would burn from staring at the screen. And I felt amazing. It didn’t matter that my story wasn’t good, that it would never really be finished, or that I didn’t even care about those facts. I was writing. And it broke me down in ways I didn’t think I needed to be. Finally, without anyone telling me to follow your dreams, I was.
I’m still not a published author. I may never be. But I hope to be. Now I write every day and I find so much joy in it. It doesn’t matter if it becomes my job and I make income from it or if I just enjoy it and write stories for myself because they make me happy.
I found my passion that I consciously buried decades ago out of fear. Oh, how I wish I could’ve convinced that little girl to pursue her dreams – follow her passions. Well, finally I am.
Honestly, it’s never too late to focus on something that you love. I do regret the years that I didn’t pick up a pen or sit in front of the computer and get all my fantasy stories on paper. There were so many great stories I could’ve told. I don’t even remember them anymore. But the important thing is that I write them out now.
Again, it’s never too late to start focusing on your passions and your dreams and what makes you tick. I would give anything to be able to go back to my eighth-grade self, my high school self, or my college self and tell her to write – to just do it.
But I know that’s not how life works and I also know that I won’t waste another minute not focusing on my passions. This is me choosing to live with intention – every day.
Go ahead – follow your dreams!