In response to Claudette’s Weekly Writing Challenge #4: Opportunity.
Years ago, when I realized I actually had a dream (more a wish, or vague desire at the time), I read a very important piece of information. I don’t even know where I read it, but it obviously lodged somewhere deep in my psyche and took up permanent residence there. That piece of info was that when you are following your dream, heart’s desire, bliss, you must always remain alert to that reality and take advantage of whatever opportunities arise concerning that dream.
My dream was to write. Not necessarily in book form, although that would certainly be nice, but more so to find a place that allowed me to write whatever I wanted to write and to have the time available to do so. Whatever I was reading coalesced into the reality that most of us aren’t really prepared to see our dreams come to fulfillment. That alone, keeps them in the arena of wishful thinking and never allows them to become dreams that we are actively working toward. Which means that they don’t have a snowball’s chance in hot water of becoming reality.
Another important piece in all of that was that if you can see yourself doing it, it’s possible. My first attempts at creating an image of myself writing were completely surrounded in rose-colored clouds and beautifully blended, but misty colors. Very romantic, but hardly the stuff of ongoing daily existence. But, thank goodness, I did finally get to concrete imagery in which I was dressed in jeans and large sized t-shirt, sitting cross-legged in a comfortable chair with a pen and paper in hand. Eventually, I did graduate to the same clothing, but to me sitting at a computer, doing what I really love to do.
A large part of getting the image correct was hidden in that statement about taking advantage of whatever opportunities arose. As I did those very things, the image got corrected, in increments, so that it actually reflected my personal reality. There is nothing misty or blended about editing someone else’s manuscript. There isn’t any room in that reality for wishful or romantic thought processes. Editing is a logical process and follows a precise set of rules and behavior.
Although I didn’t ever learn to love, or even like the editing work, I did it because the opportunity arose and I was staying alert to my dream. Editing is a part of the writing process, so when someone asked me to do that, I did. I also realized that I would never be an excellent editor for a lot of reasons, and that was good information to have. The same thing held true for publishing. For a couple of years, I published a small writer’s zine, and although I really enjoyed doing that, it was a lot of work that didn’t allow me as much room, or time, to write as I wanted.
But again, I learned a great deal from that experience. I learned about layout and design, and spacing and word choice. I learned a great deal about how easy it is to be misinterpreted, or completely misunderstood. I learned about deadlines and keeping them as personal commitments. And I learned a lot more about editing and the reasons for all those rules.
Then I started teaching and found that I was good at it, truly enjoyed it, and would probably have continued if not for my physical disabilities. I worked as a free-lance writing instructor, which meant that I taught what I chose, in whatever manner I chose to do it. The curriculum was entirely up to me. That was a really big and important piece of my dream that I hadn’t been aware of. That ability to choose.
When one is attempting to publish a book, one must, after the writing or the written proposal, seek out a publisher who might be interested in putting the work into published form. Either that, or self-publish and that costs money, time, and added work which deflects a lot of the writing time available. I knew that because of my personal experiences with the opportunities I had been given. Opportunities I took because they were all directly related to my dream of writing, and because I needed money for food and to pay the rent.
Because I was already forty when I realized I actually had a dream, my early retirement because of disabilities, seemed to bring all of that to an end, and very abruptly. It didn’t, but I had to spend some time sorting out my options and finding new avenues. I had to redefine me and perhaps even my dream. But, my dream refused to be redefined. It had become, through the process, as concrete as it could possibly be.
So today, I am blogging. Living inside of my dream on a daily basis. Writing what I choose, rereading and editing it, then hitting that publish button, and feeling far more content and satisfied than at any other time of my existence, because when I come here, I am also the teacher and am writing about all of the things I chose to teach. All the while knowing that I have actively participated in every step toward making this dream a reality.
And that is exactly what it is. My reality. My dream fulfilled because I grabbed at the opportunities as they presented themselves, always knowing what the ultimate goal should look like. I also realize that many others would turn their noses up at my modest and perhaps, inconsequential yearnings. So what? This isn’t their dream, its mine. They must dream their own dream, be constantly alert to whatever opportunities arise, and arise they will. Have the courage and honesty necessary to grasp those opportunities and learn whatever they need to learn on their way to see that their dream is fulfilled. They must actively participate with the process, or be forever lost in wishful thinking or depression because they made other choices.
Which brings me to number 41 on my list of 101 things about me. I am an opportunist.