The Value of Dreams

I had a bit of an argument with a friend, that turned into me getting called an idiot.  That stung, but the argument has had me thinking about dreams and hopes and motivation.

I’ve had a few people in my life tell me that they thought I was optimistic, and I’m thankful for that.  I try to have a positive outlook as much as I can.  Unfortunately, when I dig down deep, I find a dark, shadowy place that seems very cold and pessimistic.

To put it more clearly, I have dreams and hopes, but I can’t rely on my dreams and hopes as motivation.  It doesn’t work for me.

In order for me to move forward, I have to forget about the dreams and focus on putting one foot in front of the other.  That’s what I’ve been doing with my writing.  I’m not trying to become famous.  I’m not even holding my breath on being able to sell my stories.  The only way for me to move forward is to focus on the work at hand, and try to make it the best I can make it.

“But Brian, if you don’t believe in your dreams, no one else will!”

Who cares if anyone else believes in my dreams?  Dreams are like wishes.  They don’t edify.  Maybe some people can pin a dream on a clipboard and use it as a to-do list, but I don’t see it.  My dreams have always been too insubstantial, or too impractical, or simply too big.

Maybe a less negative view (see?  I’m trying to be positive!) is to think of dreams as The Future.  We’re supposed to learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the present.  The work at hand is the present for me, so that’s where I’m keeping my attention.

When I was working on computers, I used to joke about being pessimistic about them, so that all of my surprises would be pleasant.  In a way, I’ve adopted that idea with other aspects of my life.  I don’t want to be hurt by failure.  I don’t want to get my hopes up too much, just to have them dashed by a few rejection letters.

Maybe that’s cowardice, but I don’t think so.  I think I’m avoiding unnecessary pain.  As long as I keep writing, who cares if I am pursuing my dream or not?  In practice, I am, but the reality is that can’t be my motivation.

The downside is that without things like NaNoWriMo, all of my energy for going forward is internal.  It’s all down to willpower, to put myself in front of the keyboard and get the words out of my head.  That means that when I get tired, I stop.  There is no external pressure to keep me going, or to provide a jolt of energy when I need it.

I’m in a couple of writing groups now.  Perhaps I can use the submission dates for those groups as external pressure points to keep me on target, when my internal engine is starting to lose steam.

As long as I keep going, I don’t think it matters.  I just have to keep moving forward.