Monday, August 22, 2016

Dream a Little Dream... Or a Big One

Do you have a "dream"?
Do you even know what that is or what it means?
Is it a dream or a fantasy?
Yeah, I want to make a difference between those things.

But first:

I've been doing this a while, now, the whole author thing and, with it, the blog thing. I've changed the way I blog since way back in the beginning when I used a lot of my time to go and search out other blogs and be very interactive in the whole blogging process. It's time consuming, and I got to a point where I had to ask the question about what my dream was: Was it to write or was it to blog? But that's beside the point, though worth noting. The short of that was that I changed the way I blog, and I no longer go out searching for new blogs by other authors to get involved with.

The point of me telling you that is that I want to note how few blogs show up in my blog feed each day, now. Back when I was being heavily involved in blogging, there would be dozens of blog posts in my feed each day. It was seriously difficult to keep up with. When I changed the way I blogged, I didn't stop following people (even if I did stop visiting all of them), so all of those posts still showed up in my feed each day. Now, though, today, there were only two new posts in my feed. Monday, the heaviest day of the week, there were only eight, and there were none from Saturday and Sunday. [All of these numbers are as I write this on Tuesday, August 16.] Days without posts used to never happen. Never.

Sure, some of the missing people moved onto other platforms (InstaTwitter or whatever), but many of them just gave up on writing. Probably most of them. Okay, actually very certainly most of them. If I go down my list of people who no longer blog, most of them no longer do anything. They just quit.

And that is because of the difference between a dream and a fantasy.

For our purposes, we're going to call a "dream" something you yourself can accomplish.
We're going to call a "fantasy" something that happens to you.

So you can have a dream of buying lottery tickets, but any thoughts of winning the lottery are fantasies. Winning the lottery is not something you can achieve; it can only happen to you. Likewise, you can have a dream of being a writer (because you can sit down and do that), but you can only have a fantasy about being a rich and famous writer. You can be the best writer in the world and never become rich and famous because, as with the lottery, that is mostly luck. Maybe completely.

The problem is that it's easy to subvert your dream with the fantasy. Those things can be easy to confuse. When you believe your dream is the fantasy, you can become disillusioned. I know of several writers who quit, just gave up on it, because, after publishing a couple of things, they didn't become household names. It was crushing to them, and they just quit writing. They had a fantasy of becoming rich and famous and allowed it to take the place  of their dream. That's a dangerous thing, allowing your fantasy to squash your dreams.

How do you deal with that kind of thing?

Well, the first way is to identify your dream and recognize the fantasy for what it is.

However, it is perfectly reasonable to have a dream of being "rich," but you need to identify that as your dream. Your actual dream. If that is your dream, you need to choose a path that enables you to work toward that as a dream and, let me just say, writing is a poor path to riches. Pun totally intended. You could even choose fame as a dream, I suppose, although fame is a very elusive thing, and you need to find avenues that lead to that more readily than writing. I would suggest giving Will Smith a call. Evidently, he followed a very specific plan to get to where he was in the 90s.

Now, I want to take all of this back a step farther: What is your real dream? I mean, writing is my dream, but there is a deeper dream, Let's call the dream the "deep magic," but there is a "deeper magic," the thing that supports the dream. That dream for me is the dream of leaving something behind. Something lasting. Something for my kids but also something that goes beyond just them and, in one way or another, everything I have done in my life has worked toward that.

Let me put it another way:

My grandfather was a great man. I'm going to go into why that is because 1. it would take too long and 2. it's unnecessary to what I'm going to say. He was a great man but, once I and the rest of his grandchildren are dead, there will be nothing left of him. Nothing beyond a notation in a genealogy file somewhere. And a birth certificate. Nothing that anyone will ever take note of in the future. Even the farm he poured his sweat into and the house he helped build are all gone now, burned to nothing in the wild fires that swept through East Texas a few years ago.

I don't know what kinds of dreams my grandfather had; he was more than a little laconic. But it makes me sad that he will be forgotten one day. I want to leave something behind, and my writing serves that dream.

It's not that I have a dream of being the Shakespeare of the age. Or, even, the Tolkien. Or, even, the Lewis. But I would be more than happy with being a MacDonald. See, you people don't even know who that is, do you? Here, I'll help: George MacDonald. See, it doesn't matter how unheard of he is for the most part, because his books are still out there and he still influences people. Probably in more ways than we can even imagine.

So, yeah, I choose the dream of writing to fulfill the dream of leaving something behind that lasts. And, well, if fame and riches follow, well, that's a nice fantasy, but it has nothing to do with my dream.

So what is your dream? Is it small or is it big? And can you separate it from fantasy?

"'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains.


  1. That's not a lot of blogs showing up in the reader. You're right that a lot gave up along the way.
    My dream was always to be a musician, and I've done that in many different forms. (And now I do it for the glory of God - bonus.) Then I had a dream of being the author of a book. (Four books and several anthologies later, I think I overachieved that one.) Now my dream involves what I can do in my church for the Kingdom and how far I can take the IWSG.

    1. Alex: Yeah, if I'm not out finding replacements (which I'm not), they kind of dwindle away.

  2. Great post, and so very true. We both know this girl from our local writing group who had a book published through a very small press. She was all set to take the world by storm, was so passionate about it... and then the next time we saw her, she said that she sold maybe 15 copies total. She was dejected. Her exact words were, "I didn't even get enough money from royalties to pay my power bill." She hasn't written anything since, and the passion is entirely gone. Writing wasn't a dream for her; it was a fantasy that would have enabled her to just write a few books and then sit back and collect money.

    And really, her statement said it all. If you're writing to pay the bills, you're not writing for the right reasons.

    1. ABftS: I think writing to pay the bills can be a dream. That's what Jack London did. He was good at it, he knew he was good at it, and he treated it like a job. And he was really successful at it, but that was extra. The thing is, he worked at it really hard and didn't expect instant success and fame. I don't think he ever expected fame, because his goal, initially, was just to make a living from writing.

      It's the fantasizing about a flood of money that's the thing that will get you.

  3. It's that human self-bias. We all believe that we can be the one who wins the lottery. Reality is...crushing, to say the least.

    1. Jeanne: Reality is only crushing when you ignore it.

  4. I totally get what you're saying here as it applies to what I've been thinking as well. When I started blogging--and got back to writing as well--I had some dreams as well as some fantasies to help prod those dreams. My life has been filled with dreams and most have been fulfilled to some extent. Maybe not as far as my fantasies went, but still there has been elements of fulfillment along the road of my life.

    It's wise to keep realistic perspective as you have done. If big things happen then that's a bonus, but to be content with the smaller things helps to quell overwhelming disappointment and a bitter outlook towards self and ones accomplishments.

    I'll keep dreaming, but I won't let my dreams get in the way of living everyday life. Incorporating the two into something manageable and acceptable is best as far as I'm concerned. Fantasies should never be roadblocks or stretches of the dream that end up in disgruntlement. My fantasies are like the gas in my van: They keep me going, but went the fuel is burned then I need to refill the tank to go some more.

    Nice job of keeping reality in check.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. Lee: I think striving toward a dream should be part of everyday life. You can't get to the dream if you're not working toward it. Or, as Gaiman put it, moving toward the mountain. The trick, though, is not getting caught up in striving toward a fantasy, because those are unattainable through your own power and can only happen to you.

  5. Dreams can also be distorted by narcissism. People get raised up being told that they are a special snowflake and that they can do anything. Reality is that it's much more difficult, but parents don't want to damage the psyche of their children. So they just let the real world do it, and thus we have an entire generation of people who are experiencing anxieties on a day-to-day basis because how the world treats them does not mesh with their dreams. If it's one lesson that I've learned about how an older person is different from a younger person it's this: older people sometimes have the wisdom to let go of things and to focus on what's actually doable. At least that's the hope.

    1. Michael: I think those are people who most often mistake fantasy for the dream or for reality. People who expect to have things just handed to them rather than working for them.

  6. This was really well written.

    I've actually considered giving up blogging, and writing, from time to time. I don't do anywhere near as much of the latter this year as I did a year ago (in part because a project of mine burned me out a bit), but each time I come back to it.

    While I'd LIKE to be a writer for a living, you're right: that takes a great deal of luck as well as hard work. And given the risks, I'm not going to give up my practice to try to be a full-time writer. So while I have the fantasy -- to use your words -- of winning the lottery by writing, I don't really write for income anymore.

    I write to have someone to talk to. Not that I can't talk to Sweetie, but the things I write about, or even blog about, are things I want to share with people or think about in an indirect way. I'm not real big on close friends, and am a pretty solitary person overall, but writing gives me a chance to think out loud, as it were.

    1. Briane: Yeah, I get that, the idea of writing to have someone to talk to. In some ways that's why I still blog, to be able to engage in a conversation, of sorts, with a larger audience, even if I'm not putting as much of my own thoughts out there as I used to (posts like this one).