Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
I have wanted to become a writer since second grade. The best part of that dream was that it didn’t seem so unrealistic to me. It didn’t require me to go to college, leave home, or even work outside of the home. Anyone can be a writer. I’ve heard that the average novelist has an equivalent I.Q. to the average barista. The biggest difference is determination.
As it turned out, my determination was no match for the demands of life. I wrote stories and essays sporadically through my twenties and thirties before I finally decided I was going to get serious. For me, the surest way to accomplish a goal is having enforced deadlines. With the goal of finally writing a book in mind, I decided to go back to graduate school.
Last night I graduated with my third graduate degree: a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. My thesis was the book I’ve been talking about on this blog for the past eighteen months, my memoir entitled: I’m Going to Hell for This.
I never believed I would write a book about the Followers. In fact, when I was in my teens, I thought that I’d have to wait until I was older and had lived an interesting life before I would have the life experience to write a book. Ironic, then, that the material for my first completed manuscript grew up out of my childhood. Also, and not to be taken lightly, I believed I’d be struck dead if I ever considered writing about this group.
The past two years of graduate school have given me the tools of my craft: stamina, determination, and – in the words of writer, Mitch Weiland – “adaptability.” I’ve learned how to read with a writer’s eye and how to let go of my words. In the process of editing my book, I cut over a hundred pages. All those hours of labor sent to the garbage bin. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that while writing is a lonely and solitary struggle, it thrives on the collaboration of fellow writers and editors.
I didn’t believe I’d ever go to college; but I’ve earned five college degrees in my lifetime and am a college professor myself. I thought my life was predetermined and the boundaries restrictive. That dream that started back in second grade – of becoming a writer – would not go away. I would have no peace while trying to ignore it or run away from it. I’m not a genius. I’m not even above average. But, I have accomplished my lifelong dream.
What dreams do you carry in your heart? What will you do to accomplish them?