A few years back, I decided I would make my living as a writer and would teach a ‘How to Write Fiction’ class at a local community center. It was an awesome experience but I never expected a lesson about being the hero of your story.
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
I prepared an introduction to myself and the course, a syllabus, ten lessons, in-class and at home exercises for each lesson, and reading assignments. Once the lessons were written, I rehearsed and rehearsed. Finally, I was ready!
Finally, the day arrived. Eight students, ranging from a high schooler to a gray-haired woman of undetermined age, waited for me. I took a deep breath and stepped in front of the class. I welcomed them to the class, introduced myself by name and declared “I am a professional writer.” A hand raised. A question already?
“When did you start calling yourself a professional writer?” the student asked. Intellectually, I had prepared an answer to that question, but emotionally prepared? Not so much. I couldn’t even admit to myself that I had just said it for the first time. Instead, I answered with the information I’d prepared, that I had been a professional writer since I began writing with the intent to sell what I wrote. I think I even quoted the definition of professional to the class.
I was being truthful. My answer fit the definition of professional and my approach to writing fiction. But, as truthful as that answer was, I had never believed it enough to say it aloud until that night. Still, the answer seemed to satisfy the questioner. And despite my anxiety, I got through the rest of that evening.
Fact is, I had nearly 100% attendance for all ten classes. I ended up teaching in that community center for a couple of years. My classes grew in size and I taught my students skills they could use to improve their writing. I know I learned a lot.
I made other things a priority while my writing took a backseat to the traumas and banalities of life.
I’ve had to relearn the most important lesson I learned when teaching at that community center course: how to stand up and be who I am.
Watching the Olympics this week I am awed by the dreams we are watching. The athletes proclaim their dream with every trial, every race, every practice. Many of them are fortunate enough to have the support of their loved ones. But most of all, they NEVER let go of their dreams. To my mind, each Olympic athlete is a hero of his or her story.
Be the Hero of Your Story
Everyone has a dream. Maybe your dream is to be an Olympic athlete, a writer, a chef, or a plumber. No matter what the dream is, sometimes it is hard to hang onto your dream. You may have a hard time believing in yourself. Your parents or your partner may be the person who belittles your dream. It could be they call your dream cute, or a hobby, or your ‘little’ stories. You excuse them because it’s not really _bad_ stuff they’re saying. Yes. It. Is. Stop the negative energy.
Believe in yourself. Believe in your dream. Make it a mantra: Mine is “I am a writer.” Repeat it as many times a day as you need it. Declare it. Own it. Be your own champion.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined.
~Henry David Thoreau