Being Odd

 Most people who know me well believe that I’m not entirely normal.

            As an example, I had a dream a few years ago.  I dreamed that Sarah Michelle Geller arrived in my office one day—you know, the pretty blonde who played Buffy Summers in the television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  And what did she want in my dream?  Me?   No, she wanted to learn Hebrew and so she signed up for my class.  Later, she babysat my children for me. 

Hey, I’m always looking for a good babysitter!

            Normal men, having a dream about a beautiful young starlet would likely be dreaming about something they would need to beg their wife’s forgiveness for later.  But I seem to be consistent on those rare occasions when a pretty woman I’m not married to invades my dreams.  A few months later I dreamed about Dawn Wells, the beautiful actress who played Mary Anne in Gilligan’s Island.  In my dream, she took my theology class and seemed to do quite well at it.

            My wife finds all this very amusing.   

And no, I am not gay.

Obviously my brain functions abnormally, however.

            There are other sorts of dreams that we can have too, that people might find nearly as peculiar: the sorts of dreams that we have when we are young, of where we will go and what we will do with our lives. The sort of dreams that Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey had in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.  Unfortunately for him, his reality veered dramatically from his dreams.   Something that happens all too often in real life.

When I was four years old, I dreamed of becoming an astronomer (perhaps another data point demonstrating that I am seriously strange).  But, over time, I developed other interests, and they competed for my attention. After all, there are only so many hours in a day.  I dreamed of becoming an artist, and later of becoming a history teacher.  In junior high, I began thinking about becoming a writer and began writing short stories. I took actions that would help me in that quest—I took a typing course and paid attention in my English classes. 

            In high school, shortly before I turned sixteen, I began writing a novel and completed it in secret about six months later.  I didn’t tell my parents or anyone what I was doing until I had rewritten it a couple of times.  It was about 350 typed pages long, as I recall, and hideous as only a first novel by a sixteen year old can be.

            My parents were flabbergasted that I had done such a thing.  Of course, given that I was demonstrably a bit weird, it wasn’t as startling as it might have been for a lot of parents.  My dad always wondered when I’d go through a rebellious faze.  Instead, I sat in my room, listened to classical music at reasonable amplification, and wrote novels in my spare time while getting straight As.  I’m not sure if my father was pleased or disappointed that the closest I came to rebellion was listening to Bach instead of the stuff most high school students were listening to back in the seventies.

            As I continued writing through high school and then through college, completing about twelve novels before I graduated Suma Cum Laude, I had decided that my dream was to be a professional writer.  But the collecting of rejection letters from various publishers through all those years finally discouraged me to the point that I decided to quit writing my senior year of college.  This, even as I had just published two magazine articles.

            Through graduate school and my first year of teaching college freshmen fulltime, I ignored my writing dream, pretending that it had never been and that it was just silly, youthful nonsense, such as a normal four year old imagining some day becoming a firefighter.

            After loosing my position when they cut all the classes that I taught, and after my wife had refused to sign her contract with the private school she’d been working for, we were in somewhat desperate straights, with plenty of free time, and both of us busy hunting for a new job.  One day in the midst of hours of free time, I sat down and started writing.  As time passed, the stack of pages from my writing project grew and grew, and as my wife and I discussed things, we decided that perhaps I should try my hand at writing full time.  Why not, she suggested.  Then, two days later she had a contract with the Lancaster Public School system, making slightly more than what our combined salaries had previously been.

            So, I continued writing, and set at it as a full time task.  Over the next many years, I managed to write over twenty-five books while founding and running a seminary, but it was not until 2006 that all my hard work finally started paying off with the publication of two of my novels.  Then, as spring came, an editor with London-based Quarto Publishing approached me and asked if I could write a book for them.  Reader’s Digest Books decided to publish the US edition.  

            So, the dream I had in junior high finally came true; but it was a dream long deferred, a dream that was more than thirty years in the making.

Do not fear your dreams, and do not fear to strive for them.  Becoming an author, like most dreams, is not the sort of thing to happen without effort, drive, and hard work.  Dreaming is easy.  We do it in our sleep.  But if you’re willing to wake up, get out of bed, and face the morning grind day after day, then just smile at the naysayers along the way.  When you finally achieve your dream, you’ll discover that they’ll be the first to tell you they knew all along you’d do it.  And they’ll marvel at how you were an overnight success.