Saturday, February 02, 2008

Interview With A Dreamer


It is 9 am and already, I realize, I’m dreaming big. Or indulging in ridiculous fantasy. I’m not sure which.

A few days ago I got a sort of acceptance for an essay. The piece was (provisionally) accepted by a non-paying online publication, Literary Mama, and they want to make some editorial suggestions. They want me to be “willing to work to make this excellent piece even better.”

You would think I was publishing a book for all the dreaming I've been doing.

The first fantasy that popped into my head was that I would finish writing the short story about the high school girl with insecurities, it would be accepted, I would continue to write for young women and eventually found an online journal—akin to Literary Mama but for teenage girls. This would be after writing several essays for the Literary Mama, then being invited to write a regular column, and then working as a (finally paid) editor for one of their departments. You know, the kind of person that makes editorial suggestions to emerging creative writers.

Later, I caught myself in the car giving an imaginary interview. I had already answered several questions when I realized what I was doing.

“Well, when I was in academia, I always said I wasn’t a creative writer. And I still do love literary analysis. But that is what book clubs are for, right?” I laugh with my imaginary interviewer.

“It is such a luxury to be able to work from home, what with the kids. When I was finishing up my Masters Degree in English, I just decided that I did not want to live in a household with two academics. It took me a while to find my niche after that, but I believe that I have.”

“Well, certainly,” says my interviewer. “As your body of work proves.”

* * *

I am not generally a big dreamer. I’m not a pessimist, but not an optimist either. I don’t usually see the glass half full or half empty; I tend to believe that I should take a drink of water before I decide what to think. Perhaps it isn’t even water at all.

When I was late in labor with Henry, I was contracting every five minutes and barely able to talk, and yet I said to my friend Heidi, “Can you take Luke? I mean, we’ll see if I’m even in labor at all, but take him just in case.” Such are the statements of a tentative dreamer.

I remember what a joy it was to begin spending time with my friend Jenny, who truly understands the pain that comes in the package of life, but who still chooses to dream big, almost every day. I watched her grow as a freelance writer—because she is a great writer with unique vision, yes, but also because she believes that nothing is off limits. In the time I was her neighbor, Jenny sent articles off to all kinds of publications, sent show ideas to Oprah, wrote a children’s book, started a novel, and wrote two Everything books, among other things.

And from the first day I met her, Jenny has encouraged me to write. Even when she didn’t know if I could write. I would relate my latest co-sleeping adventure with Luke and Jenny would say, “What a great idea for an article! You could submit that to Mothering!” I never really took her seriously. But she persisted in making these kinds of comments for five years.

Last year after Jenny started a blog, upon her encouragement I started one too. Jenny persisted with her “when you begin publishing” comments, and I guess they have started to sink in. She has recently been dropping "when you publish your first book" casually into our conversations.

Jenny has been living in Kona for a few months now and recently someone asked her, “Can’t you live somewhere a little more realistic than paradise?”

I think paradise is the perfect dream for Jenny.

And writing a book, editing an online journal, and giving regular interviews are the perfect dreams for me.

12 comments:

Nancy said...

I think the dreaming thing is awesome, and having the article in progress is a great start. My sense is that 90% of getting there is persistence, because persistence means you're practicing.

BTW, have you seen the publication New Moon? (www.newmooncatalog.com) I am biding my time until the girls are big enough to read it, but you should check it out, on the young girls' issues.

Melissa said...

Ser,

You don't know me, but I bookmarked your blog, along with Julia's and "Lucy"'s, months ago after discovering them through Jenny's blog (which I found via Boundless...). I love reading all of your postings, and often find myself thinking, when reading pieces in established online magazines/papers, "This isn't as good as the writing in my favorite ring of blogs." "RIP Doc Oc" is classic.
So, just a note of encouragement from your appreciative reading public to continue dreaming big, and the same to your blogging friends.

Ser said...

Hey Nancy. Thanks for the link to New Moon. I'm off to check it out next. And by the way, you always inspire me, too. Athlete, professor, writer, mom. I know for sure that I would never have run a marathon if it weren't for you.

Melissa, thank you for your encouragement! It always amazes me when people who I don't actually know in person read my blog.

marji said...

Ser,
My eyes flew through this blog as they often do with your writing. You have great pacing and flow. I like the way you mix information and insight with a balance between humor and seriousness. You have readers, so a writer you are!

Dove Knits said...

I see this as a very realistic dream. Is such a thing possible? Maybe the interview won't go exactly that way, but as for the rest of it? Why not?

Jenny said...

Dear Ser,

What a joy to read this post--I totally love your fantasy interview. That is exactly like something like I would do--have done!

I've been thinking a lot about the idea that we must be able to see something in our imagination before we can believe it, and both of these must come before we can act.

But if you can see it and believe it, then action flows naturally. For me, the greatest battle is usually the first one--believing something is actually possible.

Anyway, as you know--I believe in you (and this dream!) completely and I can not wait to watch it all unfold.

I love image you chose for this post, too. And like Marji, I love the balance of humor and serious, searing, reflection.


Jenny

corey said...

Like Melissa, I too found your blog through Jenny's, via boundless, and have become an avid reader! As a fellow dreamer, hippie :), and aspiring writer, I often find myself reflected in your stories, and they always bring me laughter and comfort. While you chose to leave the academy, I chose to stay, and I often wish that I could inject my research papers with the creativity, honesty, and relevance of your own writing. So I certainly hope you continue dreaming and writing, because I'm looking forward to buying your published work!

so yung said...

Ser, we know each other, but I pop back to your blog at least once a day (usually more) hoping for a new post. If I don't find one, I'm a little disappointed. Now, I know we're friends, but I don't I'm obligated to like your stories and writing, but I do. You're a compelling writer.

so yung said...

sigh ... this is why I'm not a writer ... I meant to say "... but I don't think I'm obligated ..."

That I'm missing the "think" may be telling.

Julia said...

I think you're a very natural writer, Ser, and you should take a leaf from Jenny's book and persist in trying to get things published. I could see your essays on motherhood appearing in Brain, Child, just for the record.

Jenny said...

Ser,

One more thought--your dream plan is actually incredibly realistic--I mean the step-by-step plan you've set for yourself, which I think is a little bit like that of every writer (and person) who succeeds at what they love.

Anyway--we'll talk more soon. It cheers me to know that we're sporting matching purses and t-shirts, even if we're woefully far apart.

Bethany Torode said...

Ser, RIGHT ON! Jenny is completely right that you have to envision something before it comes true. That's God working in your heart. That's the kingdom of heaven within you.