Dare to Dream Big

I’ve been thinking a lot about the main character, Cammie Turple, from Flying with a Broken Wing and, my new book, Cammie Takes Flight and how even though the circumstances of her life were less than desirable it didn’t stop her from dreaming of a better life for herself. In some ways she’s kind of my hero and probably has more nerve than I would have had at that age or maybe any age. Mostly, I like the way she never used her circumstances, her visual impairment, or her less than desirable homelife, as an excuse for staying stuck in the life she was familiar with. Let’s be honest, it’s sometimes easy not to stretch our wings too far. We settle into the familiar because it’s easier and doesn’t require anything too strenuous from us. Reaching into that great unknown can be scary as a friend of mine often reminds me. It’s good to have friends like that who don’t let you off the hook too easily.

I sometimes think we underestimate the importance of dreams. When we were kids we were made to believe that daydreaming was a frivolous thing, perhaps something only lazy people did. And I think what a shame that is to instill that kind of thinking into a child. Luckily, things are different today and I think people have started to realize that there’s nothing wrong in having a dream or dreams and certainly nothing holding us back from realizing those dreams except maybe ourselves.

Dreams make life interesting; they fill us with purpose and hope. The best part about dreams is that it doesn’t matter how big you dream. In fact, I figure, if you’re dreaming, why not dare to dream big. I mean, what’s the point in conjuring small measly dreams when we have an imagination that holds no limits.

And so there are times when I allow myself to dream big, very big. Do I share those dreams with others? Nope. No need to. I hold them close to my heart as I imagine how it would feel to have those dreams turn to reality. Sure beats the heck out of thinking crappy, negative thoughts and feeling the emotions that goes along with that. Maybe that makes me a Pollyanna, I’m not sure I care, and I’m sure there are some who would think my dreams are unrealistic, but someone has to make it onto the New York Times Bestseller List, right? (No, I didn’t say that was one of my dreams but come to think of it, what not?)

As the release date for my new book gets closer I expect I’ll have plenty to add onto my list of dreams, and as Cammie prepares to take flight so shall I.

Reflection

The sudden passing of a friend in February kind of threw me for a loop. For a few days I withdrew into my thoughts to contemplate the things I would miss with this friend no longer here, and to honour the memories I had of her. Whenever we lose someone in our life it causes us to reflect upon so many things—the frailty of life being one of them, our own mortality as well as the mortality of those closest to us, the things we haven’t yet accomplished that we’d like to, the relationships we forge and so, so much more.

When we get to a certain age, we begin to understand that life doesn’t always make sense. Good things happen, bad things happen, and we have no idea why. We can become angry and bitter over the things we deem senseless in this world and yet delight when good things happen that also don’t make sense. (If that makes sense!)

I’m not sure that life is supposed to make sense. If it did make sense all the time, I think we’d lose a little of the wonder and the magic that exists in the world. And without the wonder and the magic what would that do to our hopes and dreams and wishes? Without magic I’m almost certain all those things wouldn’t exist. Why would we ever wish for something or allow our hopes to propel us into some crazy new direction, why would set our dreams on anything other than the reality we now have if there wasn’t some force out there capable of making our hopes, dreams and wishes come true? Wouldn’t we simply go through our days and wait for life to happen? How drab, how utterly mundane and ordinary, how sad.

Truthfully, I’m glad to live in a world that doesn’t always make sense, where strange, out of the ordinary things sometimes happen, where people overcome insurmountable odds, a world that fills us with delight and yes, sometimes, sorrow. My friend once sent me a link to a site about fairy homes. There are those who might say that a site like that doesn’t make any sense, and maybe it doesn’t, but so what?

If I was looking for things to always make sense I might have said a long time ago there’s no sense in trying to get published. I might have said it’s too hard to a thing to accomplish. I might have looked at the stats from some of the literary magazines I submitted to (we receive over 1200 submissions a year and publish 5%) and said the odds are not in my favour. I might have said, I have no one to show me the way. I might have counted the rejections (I had a few file folders filled) and said it isn’t meant to be. I might have said I’ve never once taken a writing course. I might have said I don’t know one single solitary writer in the entire world. But I didn’t say those things. I kept doing what I was doing even though there were times that it didn’t make sense to be doing it. (Seriously, some of my friends worried about the postage I was spending and if it was actually “paying off”) I kept wishing and hoping and dreaming…and writing.

And for those people who think life makes perfect sense, that if we dig deep enough we’ll find out exactly why things happen, I feel a little sad. I might be a Pollyanna, I might set my sights on things that seem an impossibility, but I’d rather live in a world of magic and wonder than a world that just is.

R.I.P my friend–the next time I find a fairy house in the woods I’ll think of you.

Do you believe in magic and wonder or in a world that always makes sense?
(Please drop in next time when author Heather Wright will be a guest on my blog. Heather will be telling us about her new book : Writing Fiction: A Guide for Preteens.”

Why You Gotta be so Mean?

Um—thanks for the title, Taylor.

Some how Taylor Swift’s song “Mean” came to mind as I was poking around Goodreads one evening a few months back. While I don’t check out a lot of reviews, from time to time my curiousity gets the best of me. I want to know what others had to say about a book I really loved. I won’t mention any book title because it’s irrelevant. It could be any book for that matter. What doesn’t feel irrelevant was the one star ratings this amazing book received. I was totally shocked. But I’m a grown-up now with a book of my own, and another one on the way, so I have to suck it up and accept the fact that not everyone appreciated this particular book I happen to love. Fair enough. It’s a free country and thank goodness for that. What disappointed me, though, were some of the nasty reviews. Yes nasty! Mean and down right negative to the fullest degree. Is it possible to have a negative review that isn’t nasty? Of course it is. We’re all adults. Saying we didn’t care for something doesn’t have to sound nasty at all.

I liken it to zucchini. We grow a lot of them, and if you know anything at all about zucchini you know they grow like crazy. Zucchini-growers usually have zucchini coming out their wazoos. You even ask perfect strangers if they’d like to take some home because you’re so happy to share.

Now you either like zucchini or you hate it. It’s understandable. What I’ve noticed through my years of growing them is this: if you ask someone who has a 101 different recipes for zucchini in their drawer if they’d like some they’re tickled pink, couldn’t be happier. But ask someone who hasn’t any idea what to do with them and they get a little huffy under the collar. They make nasty comments. It’s never a simple, “no thank you.” Poor, poor misunderstood zucchini. You remind me of that book I love that received the nasty comments.

This has me asking the question, WHY? Why would someone take the time to write such nastiness? I guess I’m a Pollyanna in many ways. I like to look on the bright side of things. It doesn’t mean that I talk myself into liking something if I honestly don’t. I mean if you don’t like zucchini, I can’t persuade you otherwise. We like what we like. Period. We don’t like what we don’t like. Period.

I couldn’t understand why a few of the reviewers were so upset. Okay there’s nasty and then there’s just NASTY.  This felt NASTY, personal to the point where I had to wonder what it was about this book that triggered such hostility.

But I’m not a therapist, nor do I want to be. And yes, I’m a Pollyanna, and will probably remain so all my days. Negative does not have to be nasty. You can decline my zucchini without hostility. It’s okay, it’s just zucchini.

Do you ever check out the reviews of some of your favourite books? Have you ever stumbled across a NASTY review? Most importantly, does the thought of zucchini make you happy or hostile?

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