I knew from the first moment I looped twist ties through a thick stack of notebook paper with the edges still frayed that I wanted to be a writer. There was this feverish excitement to watch written words come alive. And when you’re six years old and add a few pictures sketched and colored with Crayola crayons, well you might as well be a NYTBSA.
I started telling anyone who would listen that I was going to be an author when I grew up. I was going to write fiction. I don’t know where I got such a big, complex dreams but it seemed I knew and understood them intuitively.
After a few years I stopped this ridiculous confession because as I looked around no one in my circle of influence was talking about writing books and authors and such. Do those people even get paid? What would you even write?
By sixth grade grownups were always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. By the looks on their faces I knew it had to be something that required college and a degree I could hang on the wall in my office.
When I grow up I want to be a psychologist.
When I said this people drew in long breaths and smiled with admiration. Psychologists were smart people. Educated folk, they said. This was a wise choice. With a clear head and a dedication to school I could become that or even an accountant. You see my Daddy said I should become an accountant and I could, once I learned how to be good with numbers. His brown eyes let up as if he could see it in his mind’s eyes.
Yes, I would be either a psychologist or an accountant as Daddy suggested.
My father worked at General Motors for 30 years. On the, weekends he wrote and read every day, for hours. About a year after he retired he died. After his death we found piles of notebooks filled with his writings. I wonder if anyone ever asked him what he wanted to be? I wonder when he sat in the big chair with his tall legs crossed looking over his bifocals writing in those notepads did he ever wish he could do that all day?
Well, I went to college and graduated with honors. I got a Bachelor’s in Journalism so at least I would be sure to get paid if I just insisted on writing.
I don’t quite remember when my dream to become a fiction writer began to die. I suppose it was a slow process, like someone who is terminally ill and finally stops struggling against the inevitable. It’s almost a relief just to give in. There’s a feeling of satisfying indolence when you’re no longer struggling. I guess that must be what a physical death feels like.
When dreams die, they usually die young.
They die in the womb; at the point when they should be cared for the most, tended to to make sure the roots are strong. They don’t usually die brutally; but go the way of neglect. We stop speaking over them, we don’t feed them anymore. We smother them with the expectations from others, disappointments and fears we’ve learned from our environment and all the lies we tell ourselves.
Eventually, as a young woman, I discovered this little seed; hidden and long forgotten. Stories played in my head, like when I was six. They needed to be recorded.
Whenever there is something still alive there is hope.
Not all dreams die young. Some dreams just refuse to die.