Hey, I admit it: I’m a dreamer.
I dream of my children going to college. I imagine paying down my debts. I envision renewing my wedding vows.
I dream of vacations on the French Riviera, where dark, swarthy Mediterranean men serve me exotic drinks with a sexy accent (heck of a leap, I know).
Sometimes, I dream of what might have been. Frequently, I dream of what will be, and of course, there are those moments when I dream of what never was (there’s a little story to that, but I’ll save it for another day…)
And they’re glorious, my dreams! There’s laughter in those reveries, lots of joy and much elation. Life is very often good, even easy, and so it’s not hard to wonder why I dream.
Recently, I made a completely innocuous observation that it’s a terrible thing when your dreams crash into reality. At the time, I just thought that sentence waxed poetic in my head and I actually posted it on Facebook, if for no other reason than I just like the way it rolled off my tongue. Very wise, very profound. (It’s because I’m so deep, you know?)
But actually, when I sat down at my computer later to do some work—after already having dedicated about an extra twenty-five hours above the forty hours that I’m actually paid for— that sentiment came back to me with a sudden kind of relevance. I was at my computer, creating yet another lesson, planning to grade yet another assignment, looking for yet another intriguing piece of video to bring the lesson to life (because God forbid students should be bored because your class is not entertaining enough) when I thought to myself, my god, I would so rather be writing right now. After all, that’s my dream, is it not? To be a writer?
I’ve got a novel going that I’m working on with a friend of mine that has been in my possession for months now and that I haven’t been able to look at (fortunately my writing partner has infinite wells of patience and doesn’t say anything—such a good guy!). The little blog here that I write feels neglected. It’s been months since I churned out a good short story. And the one poem I wrote last month seemed to take forever to write, which for me, is a bit unusual. When the writing bug hits, I can turn out a good poem in a few hours. This one took weeks…but I digress…
All this nags at me, fills me with a sense of loss or despair. Hopelessness. There’s a kind of high I get when I write something, an immeasurable sense of accomplishment that picks me up and carries me away to heights beyond the heavens themselves, so when I’m unable to write—not because of lack of desire, but due to lack of opportunity—I get frustrated. Antsy. I feel unfulfilled. I hear a little voice in my head that whispers that it’s time to write. It tells me that I need to get a few words on paper, be it prose or verse or blog. It suggests that I should dabble even if I can’t write…
But time is my great enemy. There’s never enough of it. When I’m working, textbooks strewn about, tests stacked high on my dining room table, it steals from me precious hours and minutes that I could be using to scribble a verse or spin a tale of woe. When I’m done, the ticking clock reminds me that my children need me and my husband misses me and so to them I go…and when finally, at long last, I think I’ve found a moment for myself, sleep (time’s evil partner if ever there was one) makes my eyes heavy in my head, my fingers slow on the keyboard, and my mind less sharp, less alert. Whatever even faint idea I may have had to write something slips from my thoughts, never to return….
The fact of the matter is that although I want to write, I have to work. Bills must be paid, the kids have to be fed, my husband needs attention…and I’d like to enjoy a little something in the way of leisure activities. As such, finding time to write every day is hard.
I know that there are people out there who would read this and scream out: “Don’t make excuses! Make the time! Find the time! If you’re a writer, write!”
I wouldn’t disagree with that at all, but finding time is hard.
During the school year, I work all the time, around the clock. It’s a miracle to me that I still find time for kids and my husband (although my husband swears he suffers neglect at my hands, but you know, digressing and all that…)
So how do I reconcile the two? My desire to write with my need to earn money?
I don’t know if there’s an easy answer to that. I know that I have to take care of my family, and although I wish to no end that I could accomplish that task by writing, I have to be realistic. I’m not famous, I’m not prolific, and when my dreams crash with my reality, there’s really no around even to hear the big bang, much less pick up the pieces of my frustration.
But I will give myself some credit. One of the beautiful things about wanting to do well is that I am becoming persistent. I’m willing to try new little ventures when I write with the hope that every new story or poem or genre helps me wield a sharper, mightier pen, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I sneak in tidbits of story here, lines of stanza there, and finagle a little bit of paragraph for a blog everywhere.
As a matter of fact, when I dream, the thing that I see over and over is that I don’t give up. That I push myself and that I try. I find moments, sometimes one after the other, sometimes far and few between, to get my words on paper. And all the while, there’s a mantra in my head: I will do this thing, I will make this work, and one day, I will be great.
And when these dreams crash into this reality, what is left behind is hope.