Three Weeks into the Dream..

Well, this is me three weeks in. Twenty-four years have passed since I last actively tried to learn something and become a productive member of society. Not that I haven’t been one all this time, but I will be the first to admit I have spent all this time living well below my potential. Then again, I think the same could be said for many of us. Whether it’s from living in fear of failure if we try and fall short or just simply circumstances put us in positions we can’t seem to fight our way out of, it is the rare human being who actually gets to become the person they thought they’d be as a kid. Sometimes it’s just easier to let expectations slide and give in to staying as you are.

Thing is. I couldn’t be that person anymore. Not that I didn’t like myself, because for the most part I did. I just didn’t like the things he/me were willing to accept. I once had dreams, and over the years I let most of those dreams die. I let art sink into the shadows. Lately, I’ve let my writing follow the same path. It took these three weeks being back in school to show me why.

I had no purpose in my life. I won’t say I had no reason to get up in the morning, but it was close. I had no reason to be the best I could be. Call it a midlife crisis if you want, but now, I know I need a reason to go forth and be me. Yeah, that sounds about right, but it’s true. Age doesn’t dull the need to strive to be a better person, a better you. If anything the older we get, the more we need to find purpose. Without it, we stall and can’t move forward. We can’t become the best us possible.

And, don’t think that ever happens. Humanity is an evolution unto ourselves. We evolve as a race, and we evolve individually. When we stop seeking knowledge we stop being. We simply exist without the ability to live or to drive to new heights. That in no way means it’s an easy process, or doesn’t come with a certain amount of fear. Trust me it does.

Over the past three weeks, I’ve questioned this decision more than once. It’s hard to accept you don’t know as much as you thought you did. Worse still it’s hard to think there are some things out there that can beat you mentally. Again, trust me there is, and those things have kicked my butt. Being stubborn and having some amazing family and friends, I refuse to give up. Might be better to say my support group refuses to let me quit. I’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. In this new day, let me add this, it takes an internet community to keep a middle aged man on the right track.

It is humbling to realize that you can’t do it all yourself. You can’t even get twenty-five percent done without someone or several someones hanging around to never let you forget you’re a little bit better than you give yourself credit for being. On the other side of that, you need someone to let you know you’re not as smart as you think you are either. That one there should be the number one thing every person needs in their live. It is so easy to become full of your own potential that you forget you haven’t got there yet.  Looking back over my life, I can point to several parts of my timeline where I should have had that person in my life. Sadly, I have even more instances where I did, and was too full of myself to listen to their sage advice. I probably still have that problem. Before I end this paragraph let me say this, someone reminding you that you don’t know everything isn’t the same as someone telling you that you don’t know squat. Never let someone tell you that you can’t do something you want because you’re not good enough. You are! So let you dictate your worth and never allow someone else put a price tag on how much you affect the course human events.

I’m sure there’s more in me to say about myself, but I’m not in the mood. Honestly, no one should be forced to listen to that crap. I don’t believe half of myself in any case. Why should you?

I do ask you to allow me to paint an example for you. In my life I’ve been a success, a failure, a son, a father, a boy and a man. I’ve been alone, and I’ve had the love of my life. Now, at the age of forty-seven, I have an old dream made new. I’m going to be a teacher someday. It isn’t the maybe that I kept talking about to convince myself I could do it if I ever got time. No, it’s the time now, and I will do it. I might screw up, but I will never be able to say I didn’t at least try.

So when you think you’re too old to try something, remember old J. Morgan. He was stupid enough to try and hopefully will be crazy enough to succeed. I kinda like the sound of that.

Until next time, Happy Reading!

  1. Morgan
Advertisements

Jmo, Following that Dream.

It’s been awhile I know. I should have dropped you a line or something, but quite frankly, I didn’t have anything to say. Funny how that happens from time to time.  Though I’m pretty sure if I’d stayed off Facebook more some words might have been written. Not blaming anyone in particular for that, especially myself, just in case someone might be wondering. I see no reason to assign blame, so let’s just ignore I brought up the subject.

I said ignore it! So get on ignoring in 1. 2.. 3…

Good all ignored so we can get on with this blog.

Amongst all my waxing poetic over the last year or so, I’ve discussed in some detail my dream to one day become a teacher. For some time now I’ve been working toward that goal. Admittedly slower than I should have, but everything comes in its own time. This being one of those times, or at least I’m saying it is. Same thing, so deal with it. You deal. I don’t have to, because I’m the one writing this. Egotistical but sadly this is the way of things when dealing with us writer types.

That’s right, I’m a writer of sorts, or I’ve tried to be one for the last nine years. I’ve succeeded in some ways, failed in small ways, but generally been true to myself during the whole process so I’m calling this whole thing a win. But, let’s get back to the dream part of this blog. I so do hate it when I digress for no good reason. Instead of digressing, let’s call this organizing my ideas before I get started. Yeah, I like the sound of that.

A long time I ago I wanted to be an artist. I thought it took painting and drawing to be one. Thing is, I had been an artist all along and those things were only a small part of what it took to be an artist. You had to believe you were an artist first and foremost. So I did a lot of artist type things culminating in going to college to be officially labelled one. I did that, but a funny thing. With a diploma saying I was a fully recognized artist didn’t really make me feel like one. If anything, it made me feel less of one. I struggled with the concept of who or what I was for a long time. So I set out to explore those two questions.

I could paint and draw, so I had to be an artist. Right? Stood to reason, but I liked doing other things to do. I loved writing poetry and the occasional bit of fiction. You’re reading this blog because of fiction. It took me a long time to work up the courage to actually become a writer, but when I did, I like to think I proved capable enough of the enterprise. Okay, my wife might have had more to do with me being a published writer than I did, but the point is I ran with it and kept the thing going for nearly nine years. I’m not counting this last year. I was on break.

Again with ‘the thing is.’ I didn’t fully feel like a writer any more than I felt completely like an artist. Somewhere in the process a vital portion of who I was remained hidden from me. Maybe not so much hidden as ignored. I’d always felt like I wanted to do something more. Drawing and writing fulfilled a need, sure, but I still had an empty spot that needed satisfying.

I think I’d always known what the missing element had been. I wanted to share what I’d learned. Over the years so many great teachers and friends had given me their knowledge and led me to this point in my life. The point where I had to stop being afraid that I’d fail at my dream and go ahead and do it. That might not make much sense, but I believe that’s why it took me until the age of 47 to attempt to make this dream come true. If I screwed it up, then what? At 47 it’s kind of hard to come up with a new what if to keep me going. As long as teaching remained a what if, I could always say one day. If I went ahead and tried I couldn’t hide behind that what if. I was stuck in the middle of doing and failing. Scary as hell when you get right down to it.

Now, I sit on the edge of doing it. Tomorrow is my first day of Grad School. My first day of the rest of my educated life. Succeed or fail, I can at least say I tried and didn’t cower behind a big ass WHAT IF that amounted to nothing more than a reason to stay hidden behind a dream instead of going out there and living that dream. So, I invite you to join me. It doesn’t matter what age you are. Just do it. If someone as neurotic as me can follow his dreams, there is no conceivable reason you shouldn’t. Other than you’re even more neurotic than me, but let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on stepping into the light and finding the future we’ve been looking for.

Just a side note. If the attempt is all that matters, tomorrow is the day our dream comes true. Succeed or fail, we’re going simply because we believe in ourselves enough to take that first step. So, before I sign off, I promise to hold your hand if you get scared along the way, if you promise to hold mind.

Sound like a deal to you?

Til next time, this is Jmo riding that rainbow to wherever it might go!

Writing, Love and Business

Writer’s write because our minds are wired to create. We can’t see any other way to get the voices of our imaginations to quiet down. Honestly, it’s a primal impulse to reveal ourselves to others, only subliminally. We don’t want people to actually know it’s us we’re writing about. Still writing is a highly personal expression, even fiction. We pour our souls into our work, because it’s the only way we know how to create.

So, when you buy our books, you take home a bit of ourselves. Notice I said buy, because at the end of the edit, writing is a business. At least it is for those lucky few of us who actually move to the next level and find a publisher as excited about our baby as we are. I’m not sure most people realize how hard it is to find someone like that. We all have dreams. Writers want to get published. Artists want showings. Musicians want record deals.

Why? For two reasons, and getting rich and famous aren’t one of them. Sure, it’s in the back of everyone’s head. If it wasn’t, the Powerball wouldn’t have people lined up to buy tickets. But, those of us with creative bents do what we do for first off, vindication. Validation might be a better word. Creation is a solitary occupation. We are plagued with self doubt, emotional swings you wouldn’t believe, and most of all the thought that we have wasted much of our life pursuing something that only we get. To get published in any form, tells us we did something right. We weren’t fools for hiding behind a laptop or desktop screen for hours on end. Our work has touched a chord inside others. We have touched another human being and allowed our dreams to become their dreams. I know that sounds self-serving, but everyone wants the approval of someone. We want someone to believe in us. When another person reads your book, listens to your music or is moved by a work of art, we feel a satisfaction unlike any other.

The second thing is that we want to make a living doing something we truly love. Who wouldn’t want to have something that wonderful? I’m not talking millions of dollars here. Most of us simply want to make enough to support our families. Keep roofs over our heads. Have the funds to provide college for our kids. Have nest eggs for our old age. Those are things every person aspires to have. We just want to have them doing something we’re passionate about. Some of us are lucky enough to get that dream.

When ebooks hit, it opened a new world of opportunity for would be authors to gain their dream. Writers who big publishers might have overlooked were finding homes at independent publishers who exploded onto the scene when ebooks became a reality. I was around in those early days. It was exciting. Like with any good thing, bad apples abounded. Publishers popped up and six months later disappeared, tying up author’s works in all sorts of legalities. A lot of great authors just walked away disillusioned by what had happened to them. I, myself, lived through a couple of those shutdowns. I lost writing partners who went back to the ‘real’ world letting their dreams die. I’m not saying a piece of me didn’t die when it happened to me. I’m not even saying I was a better writer than some of those who are not around now. Nope, I’m saying I might have been too stupid to quit. I’ll gladly cop to stupid.

Now, it’s a new fight to keep your dream alive. I love the fact people read my books and actually enjoy them. It fulfills part one of why I create. Like I said above, writing professionally is a business. Many of my friends depend on income from writing to live. Not in big mansions, but in small homes, apartments, mobile homes. We do it in hopes that one day we might attain the dream of the New York Times Best Sellers List. Until we do, most of us work day jobs, night jobs, shift work, anything we can to feed our families, and basically keep our heads above water, so in what little free time we have, we can create worlds for readers to escape into.

When people bypass the checkout line and go to free read sites, they’re creating something themselves. What you may be asking yourselves? Well simply put — a world where the authors they love to read for free are working at the chain department store of your choice, or just a plain crap job, instead of writing because as much as they love to write, they love to eat and provide for their kids more. I seldom get preachy, and am sorry if I am today. But, sometimes your conscience guides you to speak plainly and passionately about issues.

So, if you love an author, buy from that author. Support them so they can keep doing what you love to read, or you might be thanking them for bagging your groceries instead.

Dreaming

I’ve always been a dreamer. My head has always been in the clouds. As a result of all that cloud time, I’ve pretty much let down every dream I’ve ever had. I’m not proud of the fact, but it’s true nonetheless. As a kid and for most of my adult life, I dreamed of being an artist the likes of Michelangelo, Goya, or John Byrne. Instead, I sort of let my art and all it meant to me fall to the wayside. I’m not even sure when it happened. Just one day I decided not to pick up the pencil and shut down that part of who I am. I denied it for a good long while.

Here’s the thing about creative people. Creating isn’t a hobby, a job, or even an addiction to us. It IS who we are. We can no more stop totally being artistic than we can stop breathing. So, my desire to draw may have diminished but my mind went on dreaming without me. And, those dreams gradually created new pathways in my mind. New avenues for my ability to travel down. Of course, I was oblivious to all this taking place. I had too much on my plate being a husband and father to think about being an artist, let alone a writer. It takes a lot to fill those two shoes. You spend hours at a day job you mostly hate to bring the comforts your loved ones deserve home. If you’re lucky, they never realize how hard a job that is. Because it is a hard job, the hardest job I’ve ever had, but so worth the effort. I have only one regret. That I didn’t take the time to slow down and appreciate the little moments as much as I could have. I was so busy trying to be the perfect this or that, I missed the important part. Enjoying it. Sure, I had glimpses of genius and did enjoy it when I thought I had time. It was the other times I wish I could go back and recapture. That will be the regret that haunts me to my dying breath.

Now, I’m a writer. A new dream. A dream given to me by the woman who taught me what love is all about. My wife’s love is truly the reason I am able to write. As a teenager, I dreamed about what love would truly be like. Let me tell you. For the most part I got it wrong. Jenn educated me on the subject. So, true love might not be the dancing in fields and running down beaches every day of the week, but it is more satisfying than those fevered teenage what ifs. It’s also why being in love is the easiest and second hardest thing I’ve ever done. If you think Happily Ever Afters just appear like magic, you’re even more deluded than us artist types. HEA takes more commitment than anything else you want to do in life. The sad thing is the fiction, both the visual and literary mediums, that paints different pictures of what happens once the end credits roll.

That’s why when I write, I hate to paint that picture. Sure, I want my characters to be in love for the rest of their fictional lives. What parent wouldn’t? Because that’s what authors are. We give birth and agonize over every second of our fictional babies’ lives. I just don’t want to make it easy on them. Maybe that’s why I write series. I want to show true love as it really is. Nasty, messy and altogether too real sometimes. If you truly love someone, it’s worth every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears you throw at it. Sadly, sometimes it still might not even work out because that initial rush of hormones accompanying love doesn’t have the lasting power you think it does. My friends, that is real life. I know I write things supernatural and steeped in fantasy. It doesn’t mean I can’t be real about it.

So, what dreams are left to me? What is the dream that drives me to keep writing? It isn’t the bestseller list, if you’re wondering. With age has come some wisdom. I no longer look at dreams as impossible grasps for the brass ring. Dreams should be attainable. If not, you will end up with nothing more than a broken spirit for your trouble. So, to answer my own question. When I dream of writing, it isn’t for fame or fortune. Though, I wouldn’t turn either down. No, when I see success, I see a single person closing one of my books and saying, ‘That was one great read.’ Because, touching a reader, even if it’s only one, is more satisfying than seeing my name on some list in a newspaper I don’t even have delivered to my front door.

I leave you with one last thought on dreams. Never stop having them, but don’t let your dreams define your future. I think you’ll find as you grow older, you define your future and dreams just make it easier to see the happiness to come.