We were talking about struggling for a dream last night. Maybe it came from watching The Black Dahlia and immediately after the Hollywood auditions for American Idol. Actors and other performers have it bad. I don’t envy them, being rejected to their faces, sometimes, oftentimes, with a cruelty that makes those unsigned query rejections from literary agents seem like love notes.
“It must be crushing,” I said (while watching some girl sob). “Imagine being that crushed,” he said. And to that I said, “I have been that crushed.” And he said, “No, you haven’t.” And I insisted that I HAVE, and I won’t forget it.
Though… it’s true. Am I exaggerating even my rejections? I haven’t been completely and totally crushed as of yet—not told to never write a word again, not laughed out of the room. And maybe that’s why I keep dreaming.
Then my mother called. She wanted to know how I’ve been, how the freelance projects turned out, since it’s been so hard to get a hold of me on the phone. I was telling her about one thing or another—for example the opportunity to be considered for a high-profile project but then the editor told me she’s leaving the company this week and who knows what will happen with me now, probably nothing. This always happens to me, I complained, I connect with someone and then they leave the company. (It’s true—including this, it’s happened at least four times.) I complained some more, surely, and my mother listened, always on my side, and then she took a breath and said: “I know it’s been hard for you, believe me I know, but just imagine what it would be like without that dream. If you can’t keep trying, what would you have to live for?”
We know people who don’t have that. And I can’t imagine life without the desire to make your dream come true. It’s what gets me up early in the morning before work, like this morning, when I could have slept in an extra two hours. It’s what made me send out a batch of stories at the post office today to different literary journals. It’s the whole point of, well, everything.
And so here are the choices: 1) Try and stumble and give up and hide in a hole for the rest of my life, or 2) Try and stumble and keep trying.
I can’t help it… I choose #2.