Tag Archives: hope

More Than One Way to Interpret a Dream

I mentioned my dream house in my last post. I’d like to explain about that.

My purpose in life is not to build myself a giant house. The thought of having to clean it is not an issue since having the means to build the house would almost mean having the support to look after it.

No, I am a perpetual furniture re-arranger. Barely a week goes by that I’m not flipping a room this way or that, looking for a new feel, a better outlook. Drives my men nuts!

My ‘house’ is a set of floor plans that I designed – or started to design – when I was about 18. Yes, it’s big. But it’s efficient. No wasted space. Rooms and areas for specific tasks and interests. Views and windows, hi-tech features and down-home comfort. There are details that I incorporated long before they were invented – windows that automatically open and close with the weather, in-floor heating, a lap pool in the basement that doubles as the reservoir for the fire sprinkler system. All things I figured would be standard by the time I ever achieved the success I needed to build it.

Oddly, now, so many years later, it’s funny how much of that house has come true.

I designed it with a master bedroom and five bedrooms, some of which connect via bathrooms a la Brady Bunch style. I now have a husband and the exact number and configuration of children to fill all of those bedrooms, perfect right down to the boys sharing a bathroom, the girls sharing another, and the middle child, who shares nothing with anyone, holding her own.

The kitchen shows a table and chairs that you wouldn’t be able to find in any furniture store. During one of those summers that the plans spent packed in a box, I unconsciously built us a new kitchen set that turned out to be identical to that in the plans. It was the kids who pointed that out the next time the drawings made it back up on the wall.

Visitors to our home can’t help but notice the blueprints. They’re out in the open in my office as they enter. It is an impressive house, but it’s the details that grab. It’s also quite a fun place. I have placed post-it notes on Alex’s Office, the Music Room, the Crafting Room, and the Foyer that all say ‘You Are Here.’ (My current ‘office’ also houses the piano, my crafting supplies, and an oversized coat rack.)

The only drawback to having the plans out on display all the time like this is that inevitable comment, “Oh, you’ll just need to win the lottery, then.”

I sigh. “No,” I say patiently. “This is not a lottery house. This is a working house.”

What surprises me then is how many people just don’t get it.

This is a dream. A goal. I can’t win it. Winning it would devalue the entire purpose. This house must be earned.

My kids pout every time they hear me say this. Like there’s a better chance of winning the lottery than of Mommy making it big. Nice.

I’ve come to learn though, that it’s not the house that’s the goal. It’s what the house means that matters. What the house represents is what’s important.

For me to build that house, I had to have made one of my ideas work.

For that idea to work, it had to involve a lot of other people. It had to help other people. It had to make a positive difference. It had to be born, to grow, and to mature. It had to spawn other dreams, and other ambitions, and branch out into other areas of life and learning that I hadn’t imagined when I started. I had to grow and to learn and to evolve.

For that idea to work, I would have had to achieve balance in my life. Balance that would turn that dream house into a home beyond anything I could possibly deserve.

I am starting to realize that the dream house is not the goal, but the journey.

One of my adopted kids asked me one day why I keep the plans out in full view where everyone can see them. “Aren’t you embarrassed that people will think you’re an idiot?”

“No,” I told him. “The plans stay out so I keep working to get that house.”

Quietly he asked what the chances were that we would ever see it. “Mom,” he said, “if we had a hundred chances to get that house, how many times would we get it?”

I smiled at him – proud of his sudden grasp of probability.

“One,” I told him.

He sat in his chair looking completely deflated. He’d moved in feeling pretty excited about that house.

“But think about it a minute. Let’s say I put a hundred cards on the table, face down. 99 cards say, ‘Too Bad, Try Again.’ But 1 card, only one, says, ‘You Get the House.’ Would you start turning cards over?”

He nodded.

“How many cards would you turn over?”

“Until I found the house.”

“Exactly. So maybe you have to turn over 99 cards before you find the house. Or maybe you only have to turn over 2. Or 15. Or 23. But so long as you know that card is in there, you’ll keep turning over the cards, right?”

“Yeah,” he agreed.

“Now, what if I told you there was no ‘house’ card on the table?”

“I wouldn’t even bother,” he admitted.

“That’s why I keep the plans in front of my face. If the house is in my mind, there’s one card on the table. If I put the house away, there’s none. And I stop trying.”

He rolled this over for a minute, finally nodding. Then one last question.

“What if you never find the ‘house’ card?”

“It’s not about finding the card, Babe. It’s about looking for it.”

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Romantic Shorts, Leader in Online Publishing

I had the privilege of spending the weekend in Toronto to attend an all-day writers’ symposium on the future of publishing in a digital world, and what that

Ross Laird, Writer's Union of Canada, February 2011

Ross Laird Presents at WUC Symposium

means to writers.

Hosted by the Writers’ Union of Canada, the day included presentations by WUC Executive Director Kelly Duffin, and Canadian authors, Betsy Warland, and Ross Laird. Toronto was the starting point for a cross-Canada tour by these engaging literary professionals. We spent the day at the Textile Museum of Canada, on Centre Avenue in downtown TO, listening, sharing, learning, and connecting. Truly one of the most worthwhile experiences since starting my trek into publishing.

The day was completely packed with details. Within ten minutes, I realized I had hit upon a goldmine of information relevant to every writer in the room. But more so for myself. By the first coffee break, I was convinced they had developed this presentation just for me.

Betsy described the current publishing environment, how things were done traditionally, and how – and how fast! – every detail is changing simply because of the Internet access available to the world. It was distressing to hear. And certainly frightening for the established or emerging writer who is depending on that tradition. I could feel the weight of a growing despair in the room as she reported her facts. It was both enlightening and distressing.

But I felt like the fox in the hen house. The more she told us, the more excited I got. It was difficult to control my smile.

Everything Betsy touched on, though leaning toward doom and gloom for tradition, shone a light on the future for Romantic Shorts. By the time she finished, I realized that we are indeed a leader in online publishing!

Ross then presented the future of publishing: self-promoting, self-publication, online marketing, POD (print on demand). Honestly, while I realize there were others in the room who were truly terrified of where this was leading – we’ve all seen it: the people at work who dig their heels in when pushed into learning some new computer skills – I couldn’t share in their panic.

I was exhilarated!

Without a doubt, the future of publishing is online. I agree with Ross; I think in ten years the paper novel, newspaper, and magazine will be obsolete, save for a few collectors’ copies. We will be doing virtually all of our reading online, with e-readers, on our phones, and who knows what new and ingenious ideas they’ll come up with by then. It’s happening. And it’s happening faster and faster every day. (The proof is in our youngest generation, who have never seen a phone book, used a dictionary, or mailed a letter!)

And I don’t think this is a bad thing. Once upon a time, our ancestors told their stories with drawings on rocks. Then everything changed with the discovery of paper – and even more with the printing press. This is simply another step in our intellectual evolution. The change that is happening now is every bit as threatening, confusing, and exciting. But infinitely more powerful! Whereas the last great shift in information availability most benefited the educated and the educable, this greater shift to infinite availability will change the world as we know it. And no one will be more affected than the people who provide the content for the world to read.

We are on the path to amazing things. If you believe in 2012 as I do, you see this not as the end of the world, but as the beginning of a world we can’t begin to imagine. Change won’t be easy. But I consider myself one of the luckiest people in history to be able to be here to witness it.

And with sheer and utter luck, I get to be a part of it.


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Writer Versus Publisher

As a writer first and foremost, I have, understandably, always had a motherly connection to my work. I conceived of an idea, nurtured the idea into a storyline, created the characters. Then I allowed the whole creature to evolve into the story it would become. I am mostly a panster type writer. I start my journeys with a tank of gas and a credit card, with no idea where I will end up. My characters introduce themselves to me slowly, over time. I fall in love with them, and they never fail to surprise me time and again.

The first time I encountered the independence of characters whom I thought I had created, was in my first novel, Remember Me. I set up my protagonists to experience their first kiss – only to watch their dialogue provoke a heated argument that had one storming off in one direction and the other standing there, like myself, wondering what the hay just happened.

It was at that moment that I realized I was a writer.

I accepted that every serious work I create – the ones that take me away and really end up creating themselves – becomes a part of me. I know my characters as well as my own family members – probably better. I travel their path with them, feeling their emotions as fiercely as they themselves do. They are as real to me as anyone else I know.

What never occurred to me until recently, however, is that other writers feel the same way about their works. Just as attached. Just as affected.

So when I received our first query – a professional quality, well-constructed, attention grabbing request to view an authors work – I was in no way prepared for the rush of emotion that came with it.

Here was an author, like me, who was offering to trust me with her work, something she has poured a little of her heart and soul into. She was willing to trust me with her precious creation. She was asking me to be its godmother.

The weight of the responsibility landed on me with a force that took my breath. The urge to run away was barely exceeded by the excitement and the privilege of having her entrust her work to me. Were I able to pick up this new little being, my hands would be shaking and I would be holding it close to my own heart, breathing its scent, holding its hand, stroking its cheek.

It was a little overwhelming.

I reread her query. I printed it out and hung it on the wall. I sat for quite some time just looking at it. And after a good deal of deliberation, I decided that, yes, not only did I want to see her story, but I vowed to treat it with the reverence it deserved, to respect the effort that went into creating it, and to do everything in my power to present it to the world with pride and enthusiasm as if it were my own.

It was at that moment that I became a publisher.

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