Sunday, March 8, 2009

Big Dreams

When I was a kid, I had all sorts of big dreams for my life as an adult: concert pianist, Olympic gymnast, oh yes, and zookeeper. I really wanted to be a zookeeper from about age 6 - 8. Wouldn't you rather be a veterinarian, honey? No thanks. Zoo. Keeper.

I've always loved writing and I have always written stories and poetry. My father constantly told me I'd be a writer. Yeah, whatever dad. Who would want to read my dumb stuff? But for a great long while, I wanted to be a journalist. A White House or war correspondent, specifically. I had a crush on Sam Donaldson, which, I know, is weird. Maybe it was the eyebrows. At 16, I was a news junkie. (Still am.) I took journalism classes, wrote for the high school paper, and joined the yearbook staff. I dreamed of going to J-school at Mizzou.

I ended up going to Mizzou, but went pre-med instead. Why did I forget about journalism? I don't even remember. I lost focus, I guess. Pre-med didn't go well. Organic chemistry challenged my already-shaky resolve to become a doctor, and I ended up an English major. It was so the right place for me. Talking about literature and taking creative writing classes? Perfect. 

At 16, I would never have guessed I'd have a career in advertising and then leave it behind to become a stay at home mommy. Never in a billion years. I didn't even like kids! And as much as I hate to admit it, my dad was right all along. After all these twists and changes, I really am happiest when I write. And it just so happens that there are a few people who want to read my dumb stuff. Hopefully many more. 

As for journalism, I still kind of have a thing for Christane Amanpour. Guess I'll have to be satisfied with that.

How about you? Are you living your dream, or did you find another?


Anonymous said...

I didn't have a dream, really. I wanted to be orderly. Not very impressive as far as ambitions go, I realize, but that's for some eventual therapist to sort out, I suppose.

I told people I wanted to be a writer, but that was mainly because adults seemed to ooh and ahhh when I said it. I liked Nancy Drew books and biographies and aced all my papers in school. I won a poetry competition and had a selection appear in Highlights magazine, but I always knew I was just pretending. There was even a little guilt in my fraud. I shouldn't be so naughty.

From the age of about seven, I narrated in my head constantly. I was well into my twenties before I discovered that everyone didn't do that. It still didn't occur to me that my writing aspirations were anything more than a sham. So I did other things.

I was attacked by a story when I was thirty-one. It mugged me and kidnapped me and held me hostage until I did its bidding on paper. The seven years between then and now contain a three year stretch of avoidance, procreation, relocation, an house-building.

Now I swing between hope and despair on a pendulum of procrastination. I have irons in a few writerly fires and I'm nearly paralyzed in the limbo of not-knowing-if-I'm-good-enough.

But, as an unlikely stay-at-home mother as well, it's good fun. When it's not killing me.

And my house is very orderly.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Great post, Wendy. I've been completely swept up in dreams and making them come true...again. I worked hard on my music for many years, then gave it up for a "safe, secure" life, had kids - which, like you, was never in my game plan - and now am writing novels and back into my music again. (It took me 13 years to finish my first novel and 3 months to finish my second!) Only one thing is certain - life is short. You may as well put your anxiety and self-doubts aside and go for it. I do not want to be lying on my death bed thinking "what if..."

Amy said...

I have such a similar story...started as journalism major, dropped out of college, wound up becoming a nurse all to end up where I started as a teen: writing. I agree w/Debbie--I didn't want to be 80 thinking I wish I'd taken a shot at writing. Lord knows I'm struggling right now, but I'm happier than I've ever been because I'm finally living honestly and not doing what I think I "should" be doing.

Travis Erwin said...

I'm not living it, but I'm dang sure chasing it.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Your dad and my mom; who knew parents could be so right?

Sam Donaldson? Wow.

WendyCinNYC said...

Jamie--Nice insights. I know what you mean about swinging between hope and despair. And about feeling like a sham.

Debbie--I know ALL about your dreams. Or, at least, Jenny's.

Amy--Perhaps we were separated at birth.

Travis--Keep on chasing. I know I am.

Janna--Maybe it is a bit strange for a teenage girl to have a crush on Sam Donaldson. I even had his autobiography! (Wow, I was lame.)

Spy Scribbler said...

Oh Wendy! Isn't that something? I think we were brought up in an age where we weren't encouraged to want to be mommies. Which is better than the opposite, of course, LOL, but it does make it a bit hard when we want to be full-time mommies, you know?

I wanted to be a pianist. I'm pretty focused, and it took years of illness to get me to focus on teaching. Then it took years of dealing with parents to get me to focus on writing.

Writing was always there, but I didn't realize it. I never really thought of it. Took me completely by surprise.

I was like Jamie: I thought I was crazy to have all these stories and characters running around in my head!

colbymarshall said...

chasing a totally different one...

Anonymous said...

First woman president. I no longer want that job. I have yet to determine a replacement dream job.

Will keep you posted.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Grew up writing and wanted to be a writer and a mom. Got the second thing in spades (2 stepkidlets and 3 of my own in a very short time). Got the Journalism degree, but never really used it because of said kidlets. I've worked a million jobs around their needs/schedules -- house cleaning biz, teaching, catering, cooking out of my home, private investigation, you name it. NOW, I'm trying to write the novel while playing with poetry and editing as I hear three sets of wings flapping to leave the nest. Whew! :)

CONGRATS again on your recent news. Any time you'd like to share more details, we're all waiting. LOL

WendyCinNYC said...

Spy--That's true, none of my friends wanted to be mommies. I wish someone would have steered me toward a career that wasn't all or nothing. Oh well, shoulda coulda woulda. It's worked out okay so far.

Colby--Changing it up is a good thing!

Frizzymama--That was my mom and my grandmothers's dream for me. She still holds on to it!

Angie--I want to hear more about life as a P.I.!

Anonymous said...

It's hard to let go of dreams, but when I did I found they weren't as hard to realize as I had thought.
I always wanted kids and was always horse crazy. Most of all I wanted to be a violinist and luckily I am.

My biggest dream was to be a skater. I never got to go as far as I wanted and that was so hard to accept, but I was professional for a while. Now my daughter wants to learn and I can teach her which I guess is pretty cool. Life can be really fun if you give it a while.
I had a good laugh the other day with my brother when we were talking about our dreams. I always wanted a pony when I was little. I hated Christmas because I knew I would never have my pony and Santa was just a sham. It just never happened...until I was 37. A very old gentle pony came to live with us in our backyard in Webster Groves until he passed away a few weeks ago. Your dreams do come true, you just never know when.
I also had a very special person I always wanted to meet. She is the most beautiful sister in the world.
Whoever says dreams don't come true doesn't know a thing.

Anonymous said...

The thing about being a writer is that you can make all your dreams come true. You can be the astronaut, the fireman, the soldier or anything else, because you can write about them. How many people can say that?

Anonymous said...

Good post, Wendy. My path is sorta the same, though I wanted to be a baseball player first, then a musician. Until I realized you had to be either athletic or talented.

I went to college initially to study medicine, but was Shaq'd at the net by chemistry and physics. So much for that. So I became an English major -- read a book and give my opinion? Don't throw me in that briar patch!

I had to use politics to pay the bills -- I still do, in fact -- and found my niche early as a speechwriter. That gave me an appreciation for research, and for learning the rhythms of speech -- which is also the rhythm of reading and writing.

Congratulations on your success so far. I look forward to hearing more!

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I think it's great you found your way, even if it took a little while. I always knew I wanted to do something creative, but I always went back and forth between art and writing. I thought about journalism but my first feature writing class changed that - turns out I don't like interviewing people. I think design and writing will always co-exist in my life, and hopefully I can make money from it!