This post was my first post after beginning Reap ‘Em & Weep, July 15, 2011.
Most of you know this story because you’ve been following me.
If not, here it is…
Oh, the places we will go!
August 13, 2011: My friend Jeff has left his job, his home and his wife (only by proximity) to pursue his dream of acting in L.A. He has been living with a friend’s parents in a spare bedroom in Los Angeles for 172 days now. He’s a funny guy. Seriously, he does comedy improv, writes and is a genuinely entertaining human being. He blogs every day and many of his posts have been hilarious accounts of the day-to-day minutia of trying to become a big star. Or in his case, just be gainfully employed in a profession that is notoriously difficult to break into let alone be successful at.
These are obstacles that would perhaps drive a lesser spirit to drink. Of course, he can’t afford that; he has no job. His wife is still here, employed and keeping the home fires burning while he spends (a year maybe?) making this attempt to follow his dreams.
His wife supports him.
His wife is a saint.
While many of his posts are funny, others are heart breaking and seemingly soul crushing in the slowness that things seem to be developing. Here he had become a big fish in a small pond. There he’s a guppy in the sea just hoping to get caught in the gill net of stardom and pulled to the surface. He’s a hero.
He doesn’t have a cape or tights (dear God, I hope not anyway) but would be willing to don one if the occasion should arise. He is putting his money where his mouth is, his words into action and every day taking steps in a positive direction towards an end goal. A passion. A dream.
Wouldn’t we all be better served by life to take just an iota of the chance he’s taking to pursue a dream? Remember when you were small or in junior high and you really thought you could pursue anything as a career if you wanted to? Maybe some people didn’t feel that way. I’m guessing for most of us our spirits and dreams didn’t get crushed, pushed aside or covered up until we started working “real” jobs. Jobs which eventually turned into careers, that no matter how interesting or fulfilling, locked us into the golden handcuffs of needing, buying and acquiring more which in turn forced us to work more pushing those dreams farther and farther away.
Sometimes we might have even given up on those dreams as the folly of childhood. Or sometimes, maybe something can provide us with the tiniest spark reigniting that lost or deferred dream. As adults we can control our action, time and other resources to a much higher degree. We can pursue our dreams now in a way that will serve us better than they ever would have then.
I don’t remember at what point I became interested in reading and writing but it was probably around sixth grade that my interest started to be more than passing. At some point, I remember my parents bought me an electric typewriter and that was about the coolest piece of equipment I had ever owned. I typed many, many sad junior high girl poems on that typewriter.
I typed lots of other things on it too. Eventually I typed articles for the local newspaper about my family and funny aspects of my life. They got published. I got a monthly column complete with a headshot photo. Very professional.
I also really liked to read. I read all sorts of books from our school library and whenever a subject interested me, I checked out everything they had, pouring over the pages. I ordered catalogs and consumer information government brochures on all sorts of subjects. The only bad thing about this passion is that I have a horrible memory. I wish I could retain much more of what I read. Instead I have become a hoarder of information, paper and books for reference which of course in my complete lack of a logical filing system are rarely ever referenced again.
Thank God for the internet, DSL and the grid because now if I want to know something or look something up I have long ago forgotten, it’s at my fingertips in that giant filing cabinet in the sky somewhere.
I came across an awesome note-taking site called Evernote thanks to Rachel’s blog which I read regularly at Small Notebook . You can even take pics of pages of books, magazines, anything with your iPhone and file them into different notebooks within the site then reference them on your phone or computer (it syncs up).
So all of this to say, that last summer I got the writing bug again after reading more than a hundred paranormal romances and decided to try my hand at it. Every time I read one of those books, I would think “I can do that”. Last July, I started a vampire paranormal romance that went along pretty well for a first real attempt for about 113 pages then stalled. I got sort of stuck and it seemed too difficult to try to fit writing into my list of things to do.
Last week I got an idea for a different paranormal romance and started working on it in a notebook. A real paper notebook. It’s very portable and doesn’t have to be plugged in. This new novel attempt is not about vampires which is probably good because by the time I get that vampire book written the craze will have passed. I’ll have to wait another decade for them to be hot again. These new characters just haven’t shut up yet, and I see lots of potential for not just one book but a series. I’ve been stealing time and staying up late to work on it this week.
I already have 45 pages. Three hundred pages or around 80,000 words is a typical paperback novel size.
I think it’s probably every English degree holder’s eventual and perhaps latent dream to write a novel. Is this paranormal romance going to be the Great American Novel? Not likely. But it is sure to make some monster romance lovers happy. And me happy.
Even if it never get’s finished or dies on the vine, it has been nice to revisit a dream deferred and to feel the excitement I remembered from all those hours locked in my room in my childhood home tapping away on the keyboard of that old electric typewriter. The toys and tools are much cooler now and hopefully my writing is better too. No more depressing poetry anyway.
My pursuit of a dream is much less dramatic and not nearly as dangerous or courageous as Jeff’s. The worst thing that’s probably going to happen while following my dream is that my family will have to eat more Ramen noodles because I want to write instead of cook supper. I’m no superhero.
Stay tuned for the next chapter.
UPDATE February 3, 2013
We’ll, you know now what that next chapter is. It begins with Harlequin.
If you’d like to read about Jeff Houghton’s Mystery Year, you can see it start to finish here http://themysteryyear.wordpress.com/ SPOILER ALERT: he has a three month old baby boy and a local talk show airing Saturday nights at 11 p.m. but it’s still not the end of his story.
Life is a mystery. For us all.