Oh my GOSH, is that the time? It’s the eighth already? I’ve been trying to keep up a pretty regular stream of a new post more or less every three days and it’s been going well so far... but then I look at my posts and realise I AM A DAY LATE. Sincerest apologies. I guess it’s flown because I had one of the best weekends ever! Bambi came round and it felt like I hadn’t seen her in an age, so we spent two days eating cake, chatting about writing—well, about everything—and even coming up with some parodies of songs, which has become a little hobby of mine recently. Most are about cake. Anyway, as if that wasn’t fantastic enough, I was mentioned on not one, not two but THREE other blogs at the weekend:
Bambi and Crow are both doing the “Blog Every Day In May” challenge, and it was their job to come up with a blogger they admire... and it turned out to be yours truly! I certainly have the loveliest friends and my self-esteem got a huge boost out of it... though maybe they were looking for some cupcakes! You can find out more about the challenge on both of their amazing blogs which I now feel obliged to share (and I want to anyway because...just look at them).
Say hi to Bambi at www.everythingandanythingtolove.blogspot.ie
...or find out what Crow’s been up to at www.dearsaul.wordpress.com.
I also got a little shout out on the blog of someone I haven’t met yet, one of Bambi’s friends, but I’m hoping to see her soon as she has the best taste in music. She’s just started her blog at www.alessergod.blogspot.ie!
It’s almost time to wave goodbye to the theme of school for a little while. In the next few days I’ll be finishing my list of why teens hate it so much, and solutions (here, in case you missed it). But for now, I want to share an essay I wrote for school—yes, my teacher found my book—as it will bridge the gap nicely between this and the next theme, “Friends and Foes”, and also talks about writing, which will of course get its turn shortly.
I must have been about eight when my mum took me into the city for a day out. Although it was only half an hour’s journey, I felt quite grown-up about it. We took the bus, looked at museums, ate lunch in a proper restaurant, and on the way home I pressed my face against the glass and gazed out at the night. Three young women traipsed arm-in-arm down the road, laughing on their way home from a day at university. I was in awe of them. I wanted to be them. I would grow. I would study. I would make new friends and laugh with old ones. Soon enough, it would be me walking down that road with my arms full of books.
This was my dream. I would go on to imagine it for many years and it would later become a more properly formed goal. I wanted to live my dream and, until I was twelve, there was absolutely no question that I would.
Lots of things changed when my family moved to a new place and I was exposed to a wider range of experiences. This was a scary world where barely anyone queued, the customer wasn’t always right and if someone thought you were ugly, they told you so—whether close up or from a passing car. This was a world of brutal honestly. I didn’t like it. I soon became insecure, convinced that everything I did was wrong.
My university dream seemed childish now—life was all to eager to remind me of everything that could go wrong. The dream was synonymous with success—and I really didn’t feel that was an option for me anymore.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Harry Potter, and it was Dumbledore who said that “in dreams we enter a world that is entirely our own”. I realised my imagination was a place nobody could touch. Day and night, my dreams were the thing which remained perfect and couldn’t be taken away or damaged. I bought myself a notebook and began to write.
Over the next four years I created elaborate, make-believe worlds where no one had spots, everyone was able to catch a ball and, most importantly, villains always got their just deserts. Mine were worlds of happy endings and simple solutions, and I loved every one of them dearly. It got to a point where I could step away from a bad situation and knock on the door of any made-up world of my choosing. I would be welcomed warmly by characters of my own creation and could stay there hidden until it was safe to come out.
After a while, I started to read back over what I’d written and thought that, actually... it was rather good.
A new dream began to take shape in my mind. What if I could keep doing this? What if I could be a real writer? Not the next JK Rowling or anything like that, but maybe I could do what I loved professionally, actually publish my stories to be read by people like me? Would it be possible to share my world and my friends with others, rent out my universe as a holiday destination for lost souls?
I don’t know exactly when or how it happened, but all of a sudden I had a dream again. I poured yet more energy into my writing. I attended fairs, writing courses and workshops. Last November, I took part in National Novel Writing Month and wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. Along the way I have met some of the most amazing people and made some of the best friends I could have hoped for—other people who let their dreams guide and shape their lives.
They’ve helped me get my confidence back. I don’t daydream in the usual sense anymore; I dream about a future. Slowly, I’ve reconsidered the possibility of my childhood dreams: I still want to go to university in Britain and study English with History. Maybe I’ll become a writer, or perhaps a publisher or journalist—who knows? The point is that I have something to chase. I’ve found that dreams can be the ultimate motivator. My desk drawer is crammed full or university prospectuses which I can flick through when my mind wanders from study, to remind myself why I am working so hard.
Ultimately, I’ve learned that the most important thing about dreams is not the ability to escape into them, but the belief that they can, just occasionally, come true.