“Dreams are difficult to build and easy to destroy.” ~ Seth Godin
There is much truth in that quote. No matter how thick-skinned or emotionally resilient we think we are, our dreams – especially when new and tender – are fragile things.
Today I want to remind you how important it is to protect those tender dreams, not just from the people you KNOW will stomp on them, but from the people you’d expect might treat your dreams with a little more care.
We all have intuitive instincts that help us to feel what resonates with truth for us, and what does not. This is a cautionary tale about what can happen if your intellect overrides your instincts when a dream-stomper comes your way.
Back in 2012 I took a writing workshop with a well respected children’s author. Part of the workshop involved submitting a short sample of our current work for constructive feedback from this industry professional.
What followed nearly killed my dream…
The story I was working on is a children’s story, a tale filled with fairies and pirates and all things magical. It’s very dear to me, for many reasons. I had considered it to be my best work to date.
The author’s comments, given in a private ten-minute interview just before the workshop started, were devastating. I felt like bursting into tears. His feedback included that I was trying to write High Fantasy with no idea of how to write that genre, that modern kids didn’t read that stuff anyway, and that I was very Tolkien-esque, clichéd and extremely amateur with no imagination. I reminded him of C.S. Lewis. He could tell I hadn’t written before. (I’d recently had two completed manuscripts shortlisted and one chosen for a nation-wide writing competition, but I was so shocked by his barrage that I sat mutely for almost the entire time and didn’t defend myself.)
He was disappointed that my fairies had pointy ears. My ideas were classist and un-original. I was writing stuff that had been done to death already. I was boring. I had no idea what children wanted. The only positive thing he said was that my sentence structure was fair, and my pacing okay. I certainly pushed his buttons somehow.
How did I react? I wanted to run away. I wanted to take my precious story and my precious characters in my arms and protect them from this angry man.
And really, that’s what I should have done.
But I didn’t. I was a good girl. I’d paid for the class, and I’d been so excited to attend and rearranged so many things to be there that I made myself stay. I sat politely for the entire workshop as this man belittled and ridiculed me in front of the rest of the class.
It was a morale-shattering experience, although I tried my best and did get a few good ideas from the day.
When I got home I emailed my writing group, who were very supportive and helped me feel a little less rattled. Poo to him, I said. I’ll keep writing anyway. Big meanie!
But that’s not what happened.
I started another story, I threw myself into my psychic work, I found a myriad other distractions. And my poor pirates and fairies sat stranded on ships in the middle of unfriendly seas, or trapped in the basements of grand old buildings, waiting desperately for me to return. Only I didn’t.
I’d lost my nerve.
Who reads fairytales anyway? What makes my writing so special?
This man’s negative and nasty words became a caustic force, quietly eroding my confidence and sapping away my strength. I put my story away, and never returned to it.
That is, until just recently. I found my way back to it through my blog, and the sharing of the unfolding of my psychic life.
You see, the fairies and pirates I write about might only be a story but it’s also much, much more.
So thank you. Because your interest in owls and fairies and magic has helped me to see that some people will care, and that’s enough for me to keep on going.
Poo to that man, the big old meanie. I have fairies to save!