Today's post by robinellen got me thinking about dreams. What is a dream? According to the dictionary there are many definitions. This post doesn't focus on what happens when we are asleep (or awake as in a daydream), but rather two other definitions:
1. "an aspiration; goal; aim"
2. "a wild or vain fancy"
Though the dictionary defines both as dreams, they have very different meanings and, therefore, for the purpose of this post, I'll refer to the first dream definition as a "true dream" and the second as a "false dream".
What makes one dream an aspiration, goal, or aim and another dream a wild or vain fancy?
I believe the answer is work.
A dream you are willing to work for, such as becoming a published author, is truly an aspiration/goal/aim. While a dream you are not willing to work toward, such as becoming a published author, is a wild or vain fancy.
What? I used the same example for both scenarios. How can this be? As was pointed out in Robin's blog and comments, some people think they are entitled for their dream to become a reality; their dreams should happen to them. These are the false dreams. Nothing you dream about EVER happens to you. That's right, I said it!
If you have a false dream it will never come true (duh). Only the true dream can be realized.
"But, Joan," you say. "I've had dreams that came true without me doing anything."
"You are a liar," I say.
Before you slap me, let's discuss. ;-)
If you have had a dream come true, it was a true dream and at some point, you have done something to MAKE it come true.
Let's go back to our becoming a published author scenario. In order for this to happen (as those of us who write know), you have to start with a book/story/article/etc. Does this publishable material come out of thin air? No, we must write it (and rewrite it, and rewrite it, and rewrite it, and . . .). This takes work.
So, we have this publishable work. Are we finished making our dream come true? No. Now we must submit this work for approval. Is is snatched up the very first time we submit? Not usually (unless you're a celebrity). This is a grueling and time consuming thing. This is where we really discover which definition our dream falls into. If it is a true dream, we continue plugging away, striving to reach our aspiration/goal/aim. If it is a false dream we give up and blame our failure on publishers/agents/editors/the market/our spouses/the celebrities/etc.
Am I saying it's not okay to get discouraged and complain? No. It is most definitely okay to get discouraged and complain (dang we ARE human and can only take so much rejection). Am I saying it's not okay to take a break? No. It is most definitely okay to take a break. What makes it a true dream is when we come back. Over and over we send our work out. Over and over we hope the response will be positive. But most of the time it isn't.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Because we have a true dream. We have worked, studied, written, rewritten, submitted, been rejected, rewritten, written something new, but most importantly, we have persevered.
Now I have seen some published things that weren't great and some unpublished things (you know who you are) that are. Does that mean the unpublished author hasn't worked hard enough? No. Does it mean the published author worked harder than the unpublished one? Not necessarily. So what's the difference?
It's simple, the published author realized their dream first, that's all.
Am I promising your dream will come true as long as you persevere? Oh, how I wish I could. But this is not always the case. You could work for years (even your whole life) toward your dream and never have it realized, but I bet at the end, you will have learned and grown because of the experience of working toward it. The experience will have changed you, shaped you, added to your character and made you the person you are in the end.
So choose your dream, but choose wisely for as the true dream will bring you growth, so the false dream will take it from you.