(This guest blog comes from my dear friend Rene Gutteridge, one of the Write Well Sell Well founders who partner with me for WriterCon. She’s the author of 24 novels plus screenplays, scripts, and much more.)
Recently I walked into my usual coffee house and was looking for a place to sit and work when a woman recognized me and said hello. We chatted for a bit and she said, “Do you do your writing here?”
“Almost every day,” I said.
“Wow.” She looked truly astonished. “I assumed you worked in a cushy, luxurious office.”
I laughed and we chatted a bit more, then I found a place to sit.
But I marveled at that comment for a little while. A cushy office? Hardly. I hated to break it to her, but for almost 20 years, my office has been a small corner desk in my bedroom, facing a wall–not a window–and cramped beyond reason.
This year, as my oldest child turned 19 and my youngest started her junior year, I made the decision to move my office to what used to be the “play room” and then became the “entertainment room” and then became virtually abandoned as the kids began to drive and meet their friends elsewhere. I boldly declared, “This is my new office!”
It’s taken more than a few weeks to migrate over to the new space, and more than a few years to have a real office. In the middle of it, I’ve been cleaning out drawers and getting rid of things I no longer need. While doing so, I came across a tiny 3 x 5 notecard with some writing on it. I almost tossed it, but decided to go ahead and see what it was.
A list of my impossible dreams? I didn’t even remember writing such a thing. I typically don’t even make New Year’s resolutions.
What prompted me to do it is still a mystery. But as I read over it, I was astonished to see that out of five impossible dreams on that list, three had come true. I stood there staring at this scribbly mess of dreams, reading and re-reading. Right there, in front of me, was proof that dreams come true—even if it’s 10 years down the road.
And the crazy thing? I’d hardly noticed it had happened.
Here was proof I had impossible dreams one time in my life. And here was proof that they became possible.
Chills ran up and down my body.
But something else caught my eye. There was one dream, in particular, that wasn’t on the list. My whole life, since the age of 15, I’d dreamed of writing a feature film that would play in a movie theater.
Why had I not written it on the list?
Did I think it was doable, so it didn’t qualify as impossible?
Or did I convince myself that it was beyond my reach—beyond even an impossible dream?
I didn’t have any answers for that one.
But I was broadly enlightened in that moment, as I held that little card in my hand.
Dreams had come true.
And I had almost missed acknowledging it.
I was now a working screenwriter. I had a movie made from one my books. I grew into a place where I could help other writers on their journey.
Three out of five. Not just dreams. But impossible dreams.
I wondered why I put “impossible” at the top. Was it at a time in my life when everything seemed like it had a roadblock up? Everything was a dead end? Dreams were dying by the handfuls?
I don’t know. In 2009, I had a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old. Life was chaotic with small kids, I remember that much. It was all I could do to get through a day without losing my mind.
Yet here was proof. I’d somehow made it.
I used to have this quote hanging on my computer from the director J.J. Abrams. “If you’re having screenwriting problems, you’re living the dream.”
I always loved that quote, because it was an acknowledgment that these creative endeavors are hard, filled with lots of conflict and frustration, and hardly feel like dreams in the moment.
But in the same breath, he was saying, “Remember—this is your dream. You’re living it right here and now.”
What is your impossible dream right now? I dare you to write it down. Stick it in the back of a drawer like I did. See what happens when you work your tail off for it.
A decade has passed between the time I wrote those words and the time I opened my eyes enough to see them.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been working so hard on them.
Whatever the case, it proved one thing: dreams do come true.
And when you’re a writer, that’s the star you’re shooting for. So keep going. Don’t give up. You’ve got this.
I thought about my old, cramped office space, unglamorously shoe-horned into a corner of the bedroom meant for a small vanity. Those were like my dreams at one point. Hidden away on a 3 x 5 card in a dark, forgotten space in a drawer.
But then time passes. Life changes. The next thing you know, a new place to work! A dream, hardly noticed, has come to pass. You’re tired. It’s like climbing a mountain. You’ve been working so hard to get up it that you have to rest awhile before you can appreciate the view.
Nevertheless, you made it to the top, out of breath and everything.
I don’t know what your mountain is, but don’t give up.
And look behind you. You may be living a dream you forgot you had!