Saturday, July 17, 2010

Believe in your dreams

By Heather Justesen

I know I was supposed to write yesterday, but an appropriate topic eluded me--until this one slapped me upside the face.

We've been having a discussion in one of my online forums the past couple of days. One of the women there expressed her frustration because her parents not only didn't support her writing, but have been very negative about it, even telling her it's a waste of time to write, or to attend conferences to learn more.

It amazed me how many people in my group have experienced similar sentiments from their families, whether the detractor is parent, sibling, or spouse. I admit, I got lucky in that my uncle was a published author many times over, producing dozens of books and games throughout my childhood. In my family's minds, this made my pursuit of writing a totally doable and sensible option, so I've never gotten anything but support from them.

On the other hand, I do remember the first time I told my MIL I was writing and her telling me that was a nice hobby, but what was I going to do with my real life? Thankfully she changed her tune when she finally read something I'd written, but it did give me a small taste of what these other friends of mine have had to go through.

The fact is, you'll hear similar stories of discouragement and frustrations from a good percentage of published authors. I think this applies across the board, regardless of what your dream may be. I'm sure there are brilliant surgeons out there who were told they'd never make it through medical school; there are artists with their works displayed in major museums and galleries who were told they were wasting their time; and every other possible vocation will have similar stories.

Why is it we allow others to tell us that we aren't capable of reaching our goals? If our friends and neighbors would support me in learning how to play the piano, why wouldn't they support my desire to write? And why is it that writing isn't considered a reasonable way to spend a couple of hours a day, but watching television for the same amount of time is perfectly okay?

Here's what it boils down to: The Lord has given us talents and desires to grow and use in different ways. We don't choose those talents that are given to us, but we do choose what we make of them. If you want something enough, study, research, and keep moving along, eventually you'll reach your goal.

Does it matter what that goal is? Does it have to be the same one now as it will be in twenty years? No. I know lots of writers who are mothers with full-time jobs on the side and will be thrilled to manage writing a book in twelve months, while others in different circumstances may write four or five in the same period. Another group may not be interested in books, but maybe they want to put together a collection of short stories to share with their kids--is that a waste of time if no money comes of it?

Okay, so I may have rambled a bit. Here it is. If you want to become an accomplished pianist you practice, take lessons, and study theory. If you want to become a doctor or nurse you study, practice, and learn about people, and if you want to become a published writer you write, read, and study the craft of writing until you learn enough to reach your goal. The Lord wants us to develop our talents, to become more than we are, and if we sit back and let our family and friends tell us we can't reach our dreams, we're wasting our opportunities.

Eventually when you reach that goal, those who told you you'd never make it will learn you were so much more than they realized. And perhaps much more than you ever thought you could be.


Rebecca Talley said...

Excellent and very eloquent post, Heather. Couldn't agree more!

Steve said...

Good topic.
The negative feedback I've had from some has always been overpowered by the support of my wife.
Negative feedback can certainly be productive in helping us to learn, as long as we focus the feedback towards improvement and not discouragement.

Jillayne Clements said...

Nice post. I appreciate it, and completely agree. Thanks!