Tonight I looked at the website of an author I really enjoy: Daniel Silva. The urge was triggered by reading this article. It is about a 60 year old Holocaust survivor who, since 1990, has been actively searching for his mother who he was separated from when they both went to a UN sponsored hospital for refugees in Munich. He was adopted by an American family in 1950. His mother, now 83, is living in Israel but has refused to reunite with him. The connection to Daniel Silva is somewhat tenuous, but without going into too much detail, Silva’s main character is an Israeli spy named Gabriel Allon and the Holocaust is a central theme in the novels. Whilst reading the article I realized that he must soon be having another book come out and hence the visit to his website.
The more important point of all this is that it got me thinking about my dreams and my hopes for accomplishing them. As we grow older, I think we become a bit more realistic about what we will and will not accomplish in our lives, and the most important things become more focused. In the past couple of years I’ve re-defined a lot of my dreams as goals and then set out to accomplish them. Losing weight was a big one. Running the marathon was an even bigger one. I think one of the reasons being physically fit rates so high on my list of accomplishments is that I never thought of myself as a physically active person and now that I’ve worked hard and achieved so many of the dreams I had in that direction I look at it as a sort of benchmark for other goals and dreams I might have.
Pies in the Sky
When I was young, my true pie-in-the-sky dream was singing. Oh, how I dreamt of being a singer. Back in the 1970s, I was enamored of Marie Osmond and my best friend Debbie and I used to argue about which one of us sounded the most like her as we stood on a bed singing Paper Roses into a hair brush microphone. (Oh, and for the record, I sounded more like her).
I’ll tell you this, if American Idol would’ve been around when I was in my 20s, I woulda been all over it.
The highlight of my singing career was four years as a soprano in the choir at Loyola Marymount University, led by perhaps one of the greatest choral directors ever, Paul Salamunovich. Shortly after I graduated, he went on to direct the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The fact that I got to sing with him is one of the great opportunities I’ve had in my life, and I’ve never taken in for granted. But for as much passion as I had for it, and I really did, I now know I was never destined to be a singer. It was a great dream to have, but it was just that, a dream, never a goal to be systematically planned for and eventually achieved. I no longer aspire to be a singer, though get me on the karaoke stage and it’s hard to get me off. Being a singer was a big part of my identity when I was younger, but I’m completely okay with the fact that it no longer defines me at all.
So What am I Here For?
I have long considered myself a writer, for no truly legitimate reason. From childhood until young adulthood I wrote poetry, but looking back I think that was a coping mechanism more than an actual talent or urge to write, and I say that because now that I’m fairly settled in life I have no desire to write anything even remotely poetic. One of these days I’ll have to post one of my sonnets though, since that is one of the first places my creativity expressed itself.
I suppose I could argue that I am a writer. I have a degree in screenwriting, I’ve written or contributed to several books on international education, I’ve become very chatty in my weblogs, and my husband and I even wrote a teleplay together. Somehow, none of this counts though. Why? Because the one pie-in-the-sky dream that has defined me like no other is my desire to be a writer of novels, more specifically, mystery/suspense novels, like Daniel Silva (aha, you say, it’s all starting to make sense). The problem is, I have no idea how or when I’m going to do it. I only know that it is something I will do–an item on my to do list that I can’t cross off no matter how unlikely it seems I’ll ever do it.
It’s kind of silly in a way. I consider myself an author, just an author who hasn’t written a book yet. It’s something I plan to get around to eventually and therefore it is a part of my identity. It’s like, I’m an author until I’m not an author, which I suppose will be the day I die (without ever having written a novel) or the day I decide I’m not an author any more.
Perhaps even sillier, being an author is a much bigger part of my identity then making jewelry, or painting pictures of dogs, or knitting, or whatever. Those are things I do, not things I am. There is a difference, however subtle it might be.
All of this begs the question, if you’re an author, then why aren’t you writing? Oh, if only it were that simple. I’m not actually sure why I’m not writing, though I suspect it’s for a lot of reasons. Laziness. Fear. Lack of discipline. All of the same reasons why so many of our dreams and goals are never accomplished. And yet I have confidence I will eventually sit down and write it. I guess you could consider me an undiscovered writer–undiscovered, even by myself. When I’m ready, I will write that novel, just like I lost weight when I was ready–just like I ran that marathon.