iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
GET UPDATES FROM James S. Parker
 

Peter Pan and Me

Posted: 09/06/2013 12:22 pm

As children, we are given the blessing of dreams and the absolute certainty that dreams come true. Despite these childhood reassurances, many give up, surrendering to the belief that in order to become a mature adult, we must accept reality as defined by others. This drift into mediocrity and away from our dreams is one of the most devastating commentaries there is on the human race.

Where would we be today if everyone had gone along with this nonsense? Fortunately, I have inadvertently discovered the villain behind this madness. But this realization did not come easy, and nearly came at a terrible price.

Presently, I'm in my fifties. Many of my peers are winding down their careers. With some, their lives are winding down as well. I, however, have decided that I'm just getting to what may be the best time of my life.

Let me explain.

I was blessed with a family who constantly read stories to me. My love for reading grew and I found myself drawn to mysteries and adventures, from Agatha Christie to Edgar Rice Burroughs. Soon, I started telling stories to my friends. In many cases, they were stories that I'd made up. As a teenage boy who consistently found ways to get into trouble, this growing ability to tell stories came in handy.

In college, I discovered classics such as Dracula and Sherlock Holmes. It was then that the idea of marrying a detective with the supernatural began to take root and I started to toy with the idea of writing.

But how does one do this? Where does one begin to write a novel? Everybody talks about writing a book, but few ever follow through. In evidence of this, all I managed to squeeze out were some articles for the school paper. And sadly, I felt that I somehow I'd already begun to give up on my dream of ever writing a novel.

After graduation, I started focusing on my career. While the idea of writing a novel was still alive, it lost out to every distraction life put in my way. The only true writing I accomplished was for work, which was, quite frankly, just marketing tripe. Now, I'm not casting disdain on the marketing profession, but writing marketing materials was simply not my forte and it came in a distant second to writing a novel. Soon, I came to detest my job, and honestly, the thought of any kind of writing turned my stomach.

As the years continued on. I found my beautiful wife! She, too, is a prolific reader. Some of our most enjoyable afternoons were spent in bookstores. Soon, the joy of our life arrived, our wonderful daughter! It dawned on me that life had done a complete 360. We were now reading stories to her. Much to my surprise, my desire to write once again roared to life. I shared this dream with my wife and she responded with unbridled enthusiasm. Without her encouragement, my dream might have suffered yet another inglorious death.

Despite all of this, I found other ways to delay things. Rather than start writing, I decided to learn more about the process. There are myriad books on writing and some are most helpful. But the greatest way to learn is by doing and for reasons I didn't understand, I kept putting it off.

Reading about how to write wasn't enough, so I went to an event where I could meet with actual authors. It was there I received the best advice anyone could've given me:

Don't quit your day job!

It is much easier to write on a full stomach than an empty one. I asked if I should take classes, join associations, anything that subconsciously would delay my own dream. Fortunately, the desire within me to get started overtook my desire to delay, and... I started to write.

Then, my career took us to Austin, Texas. The writing talent here is intimidating. I stumbled across a writing group and humbly started to share what little I had written. They were kind, helpful and straightforward, and taught me how to improve. Like everything else, I learned that writing takes time and effort. No one sits down and spews out an award winning classic on their first draft.

Still, doubts lingered. I'd not yet completed a manuscript and was far from being published. So I attended the Texas League of Writers Agent's conference, confident I was about to be discovered. That, of course, did not happen. The agents who condescended to give me a few precious minutes of their time hardly made eye contact, continually scanning the room, I assume looking for the next J.K. Rowling.

To add insult to injury, things became more depressing at one of the breakout sessions. The session focused on getting published. The speaker opened by giving us the impossible odds of ever being published. He then detailed how many people would start to write a novel. Of that number, only a small fraction would ever finish a complete manuscript. Then, to completely finish us off, he closed by saying that only a fraction of those people would ever be published. With that I put my pen away, got up, and left the room.

The drive home was miserable. I'd been on a fool's errand. To continue would be delusional. I then discovered the villain who'd been putting these negative thoughts into my head. How? I looked into my rearview mirror.

Yes, I was the villain.

I'd listened to every naysayer out there and had allowed myself to believe them. As it turns out, Peter Pan, knew what he was talking about. I'd been led into a false set of beliefs about what growing up was supposed to look like.

I realized that only I controlled my attitude. I suddenly went from being a writer in theory to one who got up every day and told the story that was begging to be told. In the coming days I completed my first novel, The Dark Side of the Cross. And, my second novel, Relic of Darkness, was recently released.

The moral of this story? Go back. Revisit your dreams.

Then, do it.

It's never too late.

 
FOLLOW FIFTY