Advice is a funny thing. Many of us, myself included, can dole it out in abundance.
I have given advice to friends about relationships and life choices. Obviously, being 38 years of age, single, and living in an apartment qualify my advice. Over my years bartending, I have given it to complete strangers who have bellied up to my bar to “drink away” their worries, only to spend the next couple hours talking about those worries with the guy supplying said drinks that were designed to create temporary amnesia. I have even given myself a lot of it internally, looking into my own eyes while shaving or brushing my teeth. I have decided that I am not a great listener. Most importantly, I have given a lot of advice over the last few years to my daughter.
“Follow your dreams.”
That’s the big one. That has been a recurring theme in my parental advice. Certainly, I’ve given out the basics: If you clean your room regularly, you won’t have to spend so much time on it all at once. If you don’t toss your clothes randomly into your closet, you’ll be able to find your favorite set of pajamas. Brushing your hair well after your shower will prevent this rat’s nest on top of your head in the morning. Doing your homework as soon as we get home frees you up for the rest of the evening. Ranch dressing doesn’t necessarily have to accompany every meal. To be fair, the last example might be incorrect. Everything is better with ranch dressing. Yes, I am from the Midwest.
Follow your dreams. Do what you love. In a small way, I no longer feel like a hypocrite in this respect. In just a couple months, I will be celebrating one year of publishing a new piece every week. Every Monday, I sit down and finalize a new work of writing and feel a wave of satisfaction when I click “publish.” I feel good about myself. I feel accomplished. That is, apart from last week. Last week’s piece was never written. It wasn’t written because something else has been circling my mind. I thoroughly enjoy my weekly pieces. However, a weekly blog is not my dream, as much as I love it. Doing what you love shouldn’t come in tiny pieces on a weekly schedule. I want to write. So, I have begun working on a book. The ideas for that book consumed me and made it difficult to focus on anything else.
I briefly considered putting the blog on hold altogether. Luckily, a very good friend of mine gave me some solid advice when I asked for her input. Following that advice, I’m going to publish here bi-weekly. This will free up my time a bit to work in a world of fiction, but still allow me to keep up with my readers and give me an outlet for my daily reflections. I get the best of both worlds.
If you follow me regularly, I appreciate it more than you can know. If you have randomly stumbled across this and do not follow me, I am giving you the advice to make better life choices.
So, why the decision to write fiction? As with most choices I make, it came from reflection. And at the heart of it is my daughter, Madison.
A new teacher started at her school this year. In the world of private Catholic school, he is something of an anomaly. Although her school is incredible and provides her a top-notch education, the encouragement of free-thought and imagination isn’t the highest priority. But this teacher fosters creativity. He holds early morning sessions to teach students to draw. He asks them to bring in writing they’ve done in their free time to share with the class. He even supported a rap battle between two students.
After learning about this during a school open house, I asked Madison if she had taken in any of her writing. Her response: “No. It isn’t done yet. It’s not ready.”
I know that feeling. When I decided to announce to my friends and family that I was starting a blog at the first of the year, it was a little terrifying. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have any pieces even completed yet, other than a few that I’d written a couple years before. But I did it. I leapt. And it felt right.
In thinking about my daughter’s blossoming interest in reading, writing, and drawing, I started to think about how it had all begun for me. Fiction. Stephen King. J.R.R. Tolkien. Dean Koontz. Kurt Vonnegut. Reading these and so many other works of fiction inspired me. I wanted to write. I wanted to create worlds in my mind. I wanted others to be immersed in the worlds I had imagined into being.
My daughter is my life barometer. As such, giving her advice begins the pressure of living that advice.
Follow your dreams. Do what you love.