On the wall above my desk I have a dream board. On it I stick pictures and clippings to inspire me to keep chasing my dreams. And at the centre of the board is one of my all time favourite quotes, from the German philosopher Goethe:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it now…Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
With six books to my name and a successful career as an editor and writing coach it might not seem as if I need any encouragement in the pursuit of my dreams, but this would be very wide of the mark. Like many people, for a lot of my life I have been dogged by fear: fear that I am not good enough, fear of failure, fear of rejection.
When I was a young child and fear hadn’t yet taken control of my imagination I would lose myself in a world of books and dream of the day when I would finally write my own. But by the time I reached university something fundamentally shifted. I found myself surrounded by students from far wealthier backgrounds than mine and with that wealth seemed to come an unshakeable confidence and sense of entitlement – one that I didn’t share. Rather than feeling proud I had made it to Uni with none of the advantages of a private education I told myself I didn’t really deserve to be there and ended up feeling like a fraud. I dropped out of Uni after two years and went to work in a video store, shoving my writing dreams to the darkest recesses of my mind.
But the thing about dreams is that they are a fundamental part of who you are – the D in your DNA if you like. You can try and deny them but they will keep coming back like a persistent itch.
Throughout my twenties I had a series of uninspiring jobs but my love of writing kept clawing its way up to the surface. The best example of this is when I worked in the complaints department of a frozen food company. Rather than send irate customers the standard company letters, I would take my time over each of my replies, tailoring it specifically for the individual complaint, an example of which might go something like this:
“Dear Mrs Smith, Thank-you so much for sending me the dead cockroach you found in your ice-cream desert. Please accept our sincere apologies for any trauma caused. But judging by the look on his face you can certainly tell he died eating what he loved!”
Needless to say I never quite made it to the big time in the field of customer relations!
Throughout this period in my life I also kept notebooks, which I crammed full of ideas for characters and novels, but it wasn’t until I became pregnant with my son that I finally found the courage to drag my writing dreams from the back of my mind, dust them down and do something about them.
I started off sending articles and short stories to magazines and then one of the articles turned into a non-fiction book and that book actually got published. It was only then that I had the confidence to pursue my big dream and sit down and write a novel. The rest as they say, is history.
Now when I run workshops in high schools I try to use my story to encourage any students who might be tempted to let fear or lack of confidence hamper their own dreams. And this is a theme that comes out in my first novel for young adults, Dear Dylan. The protagonist, Georgie ends up overcoming massive obstacles and taking huge risks in order to pursue her dream of being an actress.
The Goethe quote on my dream board is right. Boldness definitely does have a magic to it. Every time I have turned my back on fear and chased my dream something amazing has happened. The most recent being Dear Dylan itself. A year ago, after a two-book deal for it fell through, I almost gave up. But then I decided to publish the book myself and have gone on to get my first nomination for a literary award - something I had never dared dream of previously.
If you don’t believe me try it for yourself. Make your own dream board, fill it with inspiring pictures, cuttings and quotes and see what happens. It might not turn out exactly as you planned but I can guarantee you’ll be very pleasantly surprised.
To find out more about Siobhan, please visit her website: HERE
Please be sure to check out my review of Dear Dylan: HERE
Siobhan, Thank you so much for sending the copy of Dear Dylan for review and thank you for writing the guest post. I really enjoyed everything!
*note: I do not receive any compensation for the links shown within this post.