Friday, April 4, 2014
D is for Dreams (and how to use them)
Here's what happens in my dreams: In the next year or two, I get an agent and a contract with a major publisher, and my book instantly rockets to number one New York Times bestseller. I go on a book tour all over Europe and go on a Nerdfighter tour with John and Hank Green. At the end of the tour I have a stint on Oprah to talk about my book. In the next year I publish another novel, a picture book, and a non-fiction travel/history book that inspires National Geographic to call me up and see if I'll take a trip to Africa and write an article for them. I also give a talk at a TED conference. While all this is happening I finish my next novel and more picture books and also a screenplay that gets quickly optioned by a Hollywood production studio and stars Michael Emerson and Meryl Streep. When these whirlwind years are over I settle down with a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and a guy with a grin like Colin Firth and hair like Gustavo Dudamel. I continue writing bestselling novels and taking trips to places like Alaska, England, and Kenya.
Natalie Whipple and Charlotte Rains Dixon wrote posts yesterday focusing on working towards realistic goals, and working on things we actually have control over. I strongly encourage all y'all to check out the wonderful posts. They have some fantastic and practical advice.
The thing is, we all have our own flying whales--things we dream about but know just aren't part of our little world. There is no way I can expect to go on Oprah or on a tour with John Green or write an article for National Geographic or give a TED talk. They are my flying whales.
So what do we do with them? We absolutely need to be practical and 100% realistic or we're just setting ourselves up for failure. But does that mean we have to kill our flying whales and get rid of them completely?
I don't think so. I acknowledge that I'm a bit of a cock-eyed optimist, but I believe we can use our head in the clouds dreams to guide the feet we have planted on solid ground.
Here's the thing. In my dream world, there are plenty of things I don't have control over, but there are some things I do. Yeah, there's no way I'm going to get published by National Geographic, especially not this year. But. If I accept that flying whale dream, that can provide me some realistic direction. Maybe I can't get into National Geographic tomorrow, but I can research and write articles for other history and travel magazines. I don't have control over my script getting optioned or who gets cast, but I do have control over working on a script every day and how and when I submit it. What I mean is, I can still run as hard as I can toward the dream world, even if I know I'll only get part way there. It gives me a direction. And if we work hard we may get further than we dreamed.