I know that sounds smug of me, like I’m some hot shot with skills everybody wants and that this is only a first-world problem, like eating chicken every night for a week or forgetting your phone when you go into the bathroom.
But in reality, this is just the strange and scary side-effects to living the dream.
When you commit to a dream…you commit to it. Deep thoughts, I know. But commitment means turning down other options. When I married my wife, I said “no” to everybody else. When I chose to become a freelance editor and novelist, I had to say “no” to every other job.
Why not do both? Two reasons: One, I tried that and neither writing or editing went anywhere because I didn’t have the time to be serious about freelancing. Two, I’m in a unique situation where my wife found a job that makes more money than I ever did (grr) so we agreed this was the perfect opportunity for me to launch my dream.
But I never once thought I’d be saying no to other jobs. I was having trouble finding any, much less rejecting them. But sure enough, once I got serious about freelancing, I heard back from two applications on jobs that made stupid good money (by my standards).
I like money just as much as anyone. Launching a business requires having some, so does paying off debts, saving for retirement, and that $275 car repair I just had. And freelancing hasn’t made me much just yet, nor is there any guarantee that it will in the future. I could reply to these jobs and have a good shot at getting them.
And yet, I said no.
Again and again
One of my favorite quotes comes from the film Keeping the Faith, in which an older priest tells younger one, “You cannot make a real commitment unless you accept that it’s a choice that you keep making again and again and again.” (Source)
I want to be a freelance editor and novelist. It’s been my dream for a few years now, and both wrap around something I’m super passionate about: good art. Now I can, or at least I can try. If I crash and burn, it will hurt, but if I back out now, I’ll die slowly instead of quickly. It’s still a death.
So I said no to those jobs, I replied and said, “I’ve gone another direction.” I don’t know if my book will get picked up. I don’t know when my next editing client will come. And I don’t know when this life will make enough money that my wife can quit her job and get started on her own dreams.
But it’s a commitment. I made it and my wife made it, too. We’re trying. By God’s grace, we’re trying.
I guess I’m saying all this to encourage all the other dreamers out there. Something “better” will come along. I say that in quotes because it seems better, or more lucrative, at the time, but it will probably kill your soul to abandon your dream. Don’t take it. Be who God made you to be.
Dream wisely, dream respectfully, but dream big. And at some point, stop dreaming, stop telling yourself all that could go wrong, stop looking at the negative, and focus on the joy of living the life you truly want.
Saying “yes” to something means saying “no” to everything else. And a commitment to a dream, a person, or a life, means doing it over and over. It’s scary, but it’s awesome.
And hey, if any of you writers out there want to make the best of your book, so do I. Let’s talk.
What’s a dream you could say yes to over and over again?