Declare Your Dream – Then Get Busy Achieving It

SOPHIE'S SQUASHI’ve always wanted to write books for children.

It just took me a while to get around to it.

I don’t think that’s so unusual. Pursuing something you desperately want is scary. What if your best efforts aren’t good enough? What if your plan doesn’t work? What if you … fail?

It can seem easier to lock your dream away. Convince yourself it’s a foolish wish. List the roadblocks keeping you from reaching it. Focus on the many tasks you should do instead.

But your dream is still there, in its secret room, waiting for you to visit. And, if you’re lucky, it nudges you occasionally.

For me, that happened each time I read my children a story, visited the library or passed a bookstore. And each nudge seemed stronger than the last.

Finally, my dream poked me so hard, I had to pay attention.

Then it asked one question: “What will you most regret not having done when you’re 80?”

The answer was obvious. Once I admitted my dream, I knew I had to get serious about achieving it. Even if that meant failing.

I’ve been described as tenacious, and I knew I’d have to bring that quality to this quest. So I:

  • Read. I became my local library’s best customer. I checked out every picture book ever written by my favorite authors. Then, I dedicated chunks of time to reading and studying how those books were crafted and why they worked.
  • Wrote. I stopped watching TV and devoted that time to writing. Because I was reading the best of the best, I could see my efforts didn’t measure up. So I kept working.
  • Researched. I knew I didn’t know how to write a picture book worthy of a well-known, traditional publisher. So I got online and, using Google, learned about critique groups and writing conferences I could attend, and common beginner mistakes I could avoid.

All this work – done mostly in the evening or early morning – made me smarter. When I thought my stories that were ready, I submitted them to publishers using everything I’d learned about the right way to do it.

And I got rejected. Repeatedly.

It wasn’t fun getting form letters saying my manuscript wasn’t accepted, but I knew it meant I wasn’t good enough. Yet. So I kept reading and writing and researching.

Through it all, my husband and family were my biggest fans. In fact, my husband told me, “I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of you. You know what you want, and you’re working for it.”

So my first “yes,” which came after four years and 126 rejections, was that much sweeter.

Now, I’m where I longed to be. My first book, SOPHIE’S SQUASH, was published by Schwartz & Wade last year to very positive reviews. It’s won several honors, including the Golden Kite Award for best picture book text. And, I have six more books under contract that will come out in the next few years.

But I’m not one to coast. I’m always working on something new. Now that I’ve reached my first set of writing goals, there’s a whole new set to achieve. Because my dream isn’t locked away in a secret room anymore. It’s enjoying all the fun and freedom it always deserved.

I hope your dream gets to do the same.

Editor's note: How do you overcome obstacles and get support for your dreams? Leave a comment, or share your #ChooseDreams story with on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus. We might just feature your dream in an upcoming Dream Protectors blog post. Long live dreams! 

by Pat Zietlow Miller on Fri, Jun 13 2014 11:43 am
Posted by Pat Zietlow Miller on Fri, Jun 13 2014 11:43 am


sonja said on Jun 22, 2014
I think that this is really good
Gillian said on Jun 19, 2014

Your book is wonderful and a family favorite in our house. Congratulations on achieving your dreams and helping lots of little kids have sweet dreams :)

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