The inaugural blog on my website acknowledges my being just a few decades tardy in the pursuit of my dream. It also pays homage to the amazing teacher who stirred my literary embers, and who told me on the last day of 7th-grade, “I expect to see your name on book covers some day.”
As I explain in the piece, life happened, and that’s ok. Part of that life includes my beautiful and brilliant daughter Rachel, whose literary passions flared even younger than did mine. She loves reading and writing and there is little as special to me as the times she and I head off to do both together. Around seven years ago I conjured an idea for a YA Fantasy novel inspired by the protective relationship between Rachel and her older brother David (young Daniel would some years later be added to the mix). I’d write and pause, write and pause, chunks would get done but then the work would languish for months. I finally dug in a bit better and finished a draft a year or so ago. But I still was floundering, unsure what to do next. Agents were not lining up to beg to represent me. Did I need an agent? What was the query process? Should I try to self-publish?
I attended a writer’s conference or two and they were great, but then my energy would again wane—and besides, life was still happening—full-time job, a family. But for the past three decades I had harbored deep in my heart a dream to be a writer, a dream which would not impede or challenge or be a stressor to my life, but become a fundamental and beautiful part of it. And Rachel knew. She saw it in my eyes and heard it in my voice whenever we talked about writing, felt it in how I encouraged her. I am always careful to distinguish between encouraging and pushing, by the way. Every parent wants to support his or her children in their aspirations, but all too often we end up trying to live through them vicariously, or pushing them to be “the best.” As Francois Rabelais said, “A child is not a vase to be filled, but a fire to be lit.” I cannot deny being tickled to death that my little lady—for now—kindles the same passions as did—as do—I, but it is imperative that in supporting her we let her find her own way and make it all about the enjoyment—not pressures or imposed expectations—of the journey. But when she and I talk about it she often asks me about mine, and some months ago when I reminded her that like her, my dream was to become a writer, she looked at me squarely and asked, “Why didn’t you?”
My epiphany was two-fold: First, I didn’t want my example for my daughter to be that hey, dreams get vanquished, life happens, you get older, the dream remains but gets pushed further and further down, echoing up and out very occasionally and decreasingly, beautiful still in their way but melancholy too because they feel so very far away and out of reach. No, that was not what I wanted her to learn from me. Secondly, I realized, I could still pursue my dream. Why not? Voila! Now, it would take work, lots of it. Exponentially more than had I been writing and building a platform and pursuing publication all of these last few decades. I couldn’t exactly quit my day job, I didn’t want to stop being present with my children, and so finding and capitalizing upon time, and going at it as hard and well as I could, was not going to be easy. But as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, “If it were easy everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” Hear hear.
So I got serious, but the seriousness was infused with the giddy enthusiasm only a dream born in childhood—and in my case, rejuvenated by my own child—can be. I’ll spare you the minutiae of each step along the way but I can proudly now say I’ve been published on numerous top writing/publishing blogs, with several more pieces forthcoming. For me, relationship-building has always been key. My post on one of these sites was about building literary community, and another piece elaborates on how building positive relationships can help you revive your goals and dreams—no matter what they may be. I share this not to be self-aggrandizing, but to hopefully inspire a few of you. I am blessed that my sweet Rachel proved by best Muse, reminding me it’s never too late to follow my dream—but it’s still my dream, and in the end the most enduring source of inspiration and commitment must come from within each of us.
Whatever your dream, I believe you have it in you. And the realities and responsibilities of family need not be onerous—with some intentionality and strategy, they can in fact enmesh beautifully with those dreams. I am not only a better writer for it—but a better father too, I like to think.
Here is a terrific and inspiring piece which reiterates my conviction that it is never too late.
Are you pursuing your dreams? Not sure where or how to start? Let’s share together and inspire one another! Please offer your thoughts in the comments section.
Daryl Rothman Author Bio
Daryl Rothman is a father, author, early childhood leader and public speaker. He received his BA from the University of Illinois, MSW from Washington University and is a licensed clinical social worker. His website features his blog, short stories, publications, guest interviews, and news about his novels. He has guest-blogged for KM Weiland, CS Lakin, Joanna Penn, Firepole Marketing and published flash fiction for The Hoot and flash fiction for Kal Ba Publishing. Daryl may be found on Twitter (@daryl_dcrdrr), Linked In (www.linkedin.com/in/darylrothman/) and Google + (https://plus.google.com/u/0/111814963160970938851/posts). From early in life he harbored three aspirations: become a father, become a writer, and become a ballplayer for his hometown Cardinals. He is blessed to have achieved the first, is happily continuing his journey regarding the second and he will neither confirm nor deny holding out hope for the third.
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