Pick a Dream. Any Dream. Then Do It.
October 10, 2022. Camarillo, California. Why is it that the day a dream finally happens is a day like all the rest? I fixed the dogs their breakfast of Farmer’s Dog mixed with kibble, then I headed outside past the fire pit and the red bougainvillea vines draped over a fence. Next stop, the aviary where two hundred Zebra Finches awaited my arrival with fresh water, bird seed, and millet. The October sun felt too hot, and the few patches of lawn left in our drought-resistant landscape were a dingy yellow. I looked into the blue sky and wished for rain. And maybe a cloud or two.
Unlike most other mornings, this morning I had a book contract on the kitchen counter ready for my signature. There would not be champagne or a brass band or our family cheering this special day. Just me, my husband, Jim, and a pen I’d chosen to put my signature on those six pages.
Jim handed me the pen and said, “When Presidents sign important documents, they have a line-up of pens for dignitaries standing by. All you have is me and five dogs.”
“That’s fine with me,” I said, amused at his observation. “You’re the ones that count.”
“Sign away Miss Author,” he said. “After thirty-nine years of hard work you deserve this.”
I initialed each page, signed the document then hugged the man who has been with me every single minute on my long and winding road from dream writer to reality author. Yet I was the person who hooded the medical student the day he received his M.D (Doctor of Medicine). He was with me when I received my MEd (Masters in Education). We quietly celebrate our success.
For a moment, I flashed back to a writer’s conference years ago and a conversation I had with a group of women who asked how I’d done it.
“Done what?” I asked. “I’m not understanding your question.”
“How did you get St. John to collaborate with you then your husband to go along?”
I answered their question with a story Jim told about a business associate who told him about a gimmick he used during a conference when evaluating a presenter. He called it the “Thud Factor.”
He would ask each presenter to take the material he brought to the meeting and drop it on a table. Naturally, the folks wondered what he was up to. As each person dropped his stack of papers, the CEO noted how much noise the “drop” made. Too light? Not enough research. Big noise? That person had done his homework. I used a reverse Thud Factor with the writers by showing them the rejection pile I’d brought to the conference
The stack was seven inches high and weighed fifteen and a half pounds. The turndowns began March 1, 1983, with a note that read, “The book proposal is declined. Good luck.”
“If any of you think writing a book is easy, it’s not,” I said as I held the folders and papers. “Look at these rejection slips! Writing for the commercial market is hard work. But so is any goal worth pursuing. I can guarantee any first-time writer there will be times when you’ll be sure you’ve failed. Hold onto your dream! Pursue it with a vengeance! Failure is quitting.”
I sat with my book contract knowing my dream was a reality. How I wish I could have gathered those workshop writers beside me so I could tell them, “You can do it too! Your day will come!”