Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dream a Little Dream

When I was younger, I dreamed of being on Broadway. I would hold a hairbrush microphone in my hand and pretend I was Sarah Brightman in The Phantom of the Opera while Michael Crawford sang along with me in the background (They were all the rage when I was younger. I think I saw Crawford at Blossom. I was SO cool). When I became a teenager, I took my act to the stage and performed around Cleveland in community theater production and school shows honing my craft. It was then that the dreams of Broadway waned a bit. Reality started to sink in… there are a lot of talented people out there! We were told around every turn that Broadway wasn’t the path most of us would end up taking, that less than one percent of us would actually make it to that grand stage.

This past June, I watched the Tony Awards with extra excitement. Years prior, I had forced my husband to spend the night listening to me emote about to all my fond memories from the stage, but this year was different. My friend and fellow teenage Broadway dreamer, Rory O’Malley, was nominated for his hilarious role in The Book of Mormon. I couldn’t have been more proud seeing him sit in the audience looking calm, cool, and collected when I was sitting at home ready to puke. He dreamed the same dream I did growing up and against the odds, he made his come true.

Last summer, I started on a new dream. I sat down in front of my computer and began writing my first novel. In the beginning, it was just a hobby I tried to do when the kids were napping, but slowly it grew. I got attached to fictional characters who would walk around my brain as I cooked dinner or folded clothes. In March, I finished the book. It was like standing in the wings waiting to go on stage. After months of practice, I was finally ready for my debut. It’s quite a horrifying experience. What do you do after the writing is done? In my case, you query a bunch of agents and see if they like it.

It ends up that 15 agents liked what I had to say. They requested parts of the novel or the entire manuscript for their review. The first request I got I was standing in a consignment store in Chicago and started crying. The store clerk thought I was crazy. Fast forward five months and a handful of those agents changed their minds… my story wasn’t for them. A few others asked me to revise and resubmit. The rest… the jury is still out.

What’s the point??? Too many times in life we are told the odds are not in our favor, that taking a different path is the more reasonable, responsible way to go. It ends up Rory isn’t the first person I know to be on Broadway. To date, five people I’ve been lucky to have in my life have graced that stage. How did they get there?? Hard work. I don’t expect my first novel to be a best seller, I’ll be shocked if it get published at all, but I have learned more about myself from writing it, querying it, reading rejections, editing, reading more rejections, editing, finding hope, and editing.

My sister, Anna, started painting a few years back. She was inspired by a trip to my dad’s art studio, so she picked up a paint brush and got after it. Three weeks ago, she was featured in an LA Times article. Two weeks ago, she received her first commission from a man in LA who loved what he saw. How did she do it?? She painted and painted again. She took her heart and put it on the canvas all while her daughter napped. At times she wondered what she was doing, was she really an artist? It’s the struggle we all face. Is what we feel in our hearts really what people see? Well, if you don’t put it out there, you’ll never know. I’m not a writer because I’m published. I’m a writer because I write, I love it, and I work hard at it.

When my kids are older, I’ll show them a copy of my book, either on a Kindle or on my computer. Either way, I wrote it. I took a dream I had, worked hard, and accomplished my goal. I no longer wish to sing on Broadway and maybe in a few years, I’ll be done with writing, but I’ll find another dream. After all, what is life without a little dreaming?