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It Started with a Dream.

September 25, 2008

I learned that, if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again…I shouldn’t look any further than my own backyard.  Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with. ~ Dorothy, played by actress Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.

It has always been my heart’s desire to write.

When I was a little girl, I watched The Wizard of Oz everyday-often more than once-to the point where my parents seriously considered telling me they had ‘accidentally’ lost the VHS tape.  I’m sure they would’ve been relieved to see it smothered under a foot of dirt.  At least they could finally escape the helium-induced squeals of munchkins.  The only thing that probably stopped them from doing so was the oafish grin that took up half my face when I sat down to watch it, my bulgy rodent-eyes transfixed on the screen.

I couldn’t help my addiction.  I was obsessed with the world ‘beyond the rainbow’ that Dorothy sang about.  I dreamed about it.  I talked about it.  I wrote about it.  The ideas started sparking in my head of fantasy worlds where one could be forgotten and live amongst fairies and magic-makers.  Where wild, unseen creatures roamed and the skies were a kaleidoscope of radiant hues.  Back then, I thought if I created such worlds, they might actually come into being.  That my words could breathe life into them.

When I was fresh out of high school, I began telling people that I wanted to be a writer.  After all, I had won a writing award in my senior year for getting 99% in my creative writing course and I has won an essay contest in which I competed against 500 other students a few years prior to that.  I didn’t think encouragement would be lacking.  Like many of you, I’m sure, my admission was met with deadpan stares and gaping mouths.

The classic line was: “What?  A writer?  You mean you can actually make a decent living doing that?”

Needless to say, this was a bit…discouraging.  So I settled for going to university and studying English, which was as close as I thought I would get.

During those years, I tested the same confession on my peers.  Although slightly more supportive, I was often told to “maybe look into teaching instead” because I’d probably make more profit.  I can’t say I was surprised.  So I lost sight of my dream to be a writer, graduated with my M.A. in English/Fine Arts and a minor in History, and accepted a job as a medical web content developer right out of school, writing education scripts for online e-learning modules (or so I was supposed to be, but find myself doing more mundane administrative duties the majority of the time).  This translates into me being confined to a detention cell desk, with a chair that leans more to the left than the right, earning a barely satisfactory wage to make my rich doctor bosses richer. 

Yes, I’m making a steady income.  I’m writing, sort of.  Am I happy?  Hardly.

About a month ago, I began to seek out my lost dream again.  I read about successful freelance writers and decided it was something I was motivated to do.  I ate up books on the topic in the early morning hours or late at night before bed.  I got excited.  I started talking to fellow writers who had shaped a full-time career out of freelance writing and started a business from the ground up.

The writing community is amazing and supportive, I must say.  I was greeted with compassion, advice, and funny anecdotes.  Above all, I was told that being financially comfortable as a writer was possible, and that one could make it a full-time career with the right attitude and work ethic.  I think overjoyed about sums up my response!

So here I am.  I’m in the early stages of marketing.  I’ve got a fantastic friend who is developing a website for me (the first recommendation that was made to me).  She is pursuing a freelance career in web design and photography, so we are helping each other out in a way, since she needs work samples for her portfolio and I am in dire need of her services.  This is the first lesson I have learned in networking with fellow creative freelancers: help one another out through exchange and trade whenever possible, because you will be thankful when the favour is returned down the road.  And this is the first post in a blog that I intend to use as a documentary of my freelance writing journey-the ups and downs, and everything in between.

For now, I am enduring the dull, ‘normal’ job that is paying my bills.  Of course, there’s also that old man who sits across from me with the St. Bernard face, runny eyes, and fishy smell.  But in time, I’m going to take a shot at full-time freelancing.  I think I’m going to relish jumping ship on the corporate world and taking the plunge into a career that doesn’t just make ends meet, but fulfills me.

For once.

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