12.10.2010

DON'T BE AFRAID TO DREAM BIG

i remember the very first time i decided, with absolute conviction, that i was going to write a book. 

it was in the middle of the summer -- July 2009 -- a few short months after i'd graduated from college. my two closest friends (@tanagandhi & @razberry28) were working as camp counselors, lassoing little children into single file lines, begging them to behave and to stop shoving craft-macaroni up each other's noses. (i may have made up that last bit about the noses.) they'd finally managed to escape the neon-shirt wearing children in their camp-counselor-groups long enough to take a quick five-minute-not-really-a-lunch break, and i used their few precious moments to harangue them about my sudden Aspirations.

"I HAVE DECIDED TO WRITE A BOOK!" i announced. quite literally, announced. i may have even pumped my fist in the vein of one Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, flexing my impressive non-muscles in the glare of the Orange County sun.

i awaited my accolades.

fortunately, i have a pair of really excellent friends who were willing to indulge me. they oohed and aahed in all the appropriate places, and i skipped and made faces and drew plans in the air. "I THINK I'M GOING TO WRITE SOMETHING SUPER ORIGINAL. SOMETHING WITH EYELASHES. YOU KNOW. EYELASHES THAT HAVE, LIKE, SUPERPOWERS OR SOMETHING. IT'LL BE EXCELLENT."

i think i saw their smiles waver for less than half of a second, but really, i mean, these ladies are such exceptional human beings, i can't even be sure. it may have been a trick of the light. it is entirely possible, however, that that exact moment was the moment they thought i'd lost my mind. not sure. they deny it. who really knows. the point is, they were on a five second work break, and i'd decided to accost them only to talk about my great Endeavors. they soldiered on, the troopers, smiles planted in place, high-fives and thumbs-ups abound. encouraging words! lots of excitement! tentative follow-up questions reinforced with lots of excitement! concerned forehead wrinkles quickly appended by encouraging words! KIND, BRAVE SOULS, THESE FINE YOUNG LADIES.

yes. i was mightily encouraged.

i burst back into my day job with fervor! i would write a book! about EYELASHES! THAT HAVE MAGICAL POWERS! THEY WOULD BE PURPLE! AND REALLY WEIRD! AND THINGS WOULD HAPPEN THAT WOULD BE AWESOME! I WOULD ASTOUND THE MINDS OF ALL LITERATE CITIZENS! NO, SERIOUSLY!

i typed away like a crazy person. almost two whole pages! double-spaced! in, like, an hour!

holy crap, tahereh, seriously, slow down, the world can't handle that much Awesome at once, you'd better take a break and show this slice of Genius to anyone with two eyes and a decent grasp of the English language, is what i said to myself. HOW ABOUT THOSE TWO FINE FRIENDS OF YOURS WHO SEEMED SO THOROUGHLY INTERESTED NOT FOUR SHORT HOURS AGO?!

?!

like most sane civilians struck by unexpected Genius, i couldn't be bothered to wait. i took my laptop and my Genius directly over to their Place of Residence, where i quickly determined that we needed to order pizza. i would do the dialing, as my Genius was wont to do. MAKE HASTE, PIZZA MAN, i shouted in the quiet of my head, suddenly fancying myself telepathic. i had somehow connected the eating-of-the-pizza with the sharing-of-the-Genius, and impatience was itching at my elbows.

FINALLY! the pizza! delivered! MY MOMENT HAD ARRIVED.

with such gusto! and such splendid gesticulation! i shared my two double-spaced pages of Genius. and these two very dear friends of mine applauded my purple prose. they admired the adverbs so generously wedged between every other word! they didn't point to the clock and tell me they'd decided to retire from our friendship! no indeed. they told me to keep writing! IT LOOKS GREAT, they said to me. GREAT WORK! they said to me, not once glancing at the clock.

we spent the rest of the evening eating pizza and googling multi-colored eyelashes. for research, obviously. (because it had very quickly become not just obvious, but really, very obvious just how earth-shattering this book would turn out to be.) and not once, not ever, did they laugh at my ideas. not once, not ever, did they ignore my excitement. not once, not ever, did they point out just how horrible that manuscript would turn out to be.

i actually wrote that manuscript. the one about the purple eyelashes. finished it. it was the first step i took toward becoming a real writer. it was the first (and not the last!) bad manuscript i needed to write in order to learn how to be a writer.

i think i got pretty lucky, having such good, generous friends. and i think i'm pretty sure that not everyone has that same kind of encouragement, especially not the first time, especially not when you need it the most, especially not when the excitement, the hopes and the dreams are bursting through you, tumbling into your hands, wrapping you in a warmth of possibility SO POTENT you can actually feel it, thrumming in your heart.

and i hope if you have that encouragement, you treasure it. and i hope if you don't, you do now.

i hope you won't be afraid to dream big.

i hope you know that every word is worth it. that every dead manuscript is one you've learned from. that every rejection in your inbox is one you'll grow from. that every day you're smarter than the day before.

i hope you never give up. i hope you dance around the house and hug your ideas to your heart and remember why you love to write.

i hope you know that i'm cheering for you.

<3

26 comments:

Dorothy Dreyer said...

You are quite literally made of Genius Awesome! With sparkles!

*hugs*

D. U. Okonkwo said...

Very cool post. And your friends sound totally cool, too. Need to have real people around you.

Simon C. Larter said...

Oh, you're such a dear. Really.

Sadly, I am not that encouraging friend. I'm cantankerous and awfully picky. Just ask my CPs.

Maybe I could learn from your friends. At the very least, it might help my poker face.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

You are made of awesome. Thanks for this today. :)

Bee said...

I love you Tahereh. I hope you know that.

Laura Maylene said...

May we all await our accolades together in good humor. With alcohol.

Sarah said...

This is adorable in an awesome, shiny sort of way that makes me want to buy and read a book about eyelashes. You're right, good friends are essential throughout this long, windy road to publication!

Jaleh D said...

Are you sure you aren't the one with the EYELASHES of AWESOME POWERS? 'Cause I can feel those waves of encouragement coming off those magically sparkling purple eyelashes I'm imagining you batting at us in your excitement to brighten our day. Hehe.

Misty said...

(((((((Tahereh)))))))
I'm taking my ticket and jumping right on the Dream Big steam engine, taking it down to the Dream Bigger ocean liner and sailing over to the land Where All Our Dreams Come True. I think I like the view so much, I'm gonna get a little real estate here if I can.
Thanks for being so optimistic for all of us!

Travener said...

I'm glad someone's cheering for me. Thanks!

Tana said...

:) Hello Genius Awesome Beautiful Eyelash Friend!

maine character said...

I wish I could go back and start writing all over again, 'cause seeing how much fun you had, and how much drama you infused into that day, I certainly didn't do it right. Well, except for the pizza.

Accolades in spades.

Marisa Birns said...

There's hasn't been much dancing around the house lately, and now I realize that I miss that.

So, thanks for the pep talk and for the rah-rahs!

*dance, dance, dance, dance*

Scooter Carlyle said...

Thanks for the encouragement. It's very nice to see on a day that I would like to gouge my eyes out with a drinking straw.

Krispy said...

Sounds like you have awesome, awesome friends, and now I am curious about purple eyelashes.

I love my friends for pretty much the same kind of awesome. :)

hopejunkie said...

If anyone could make purple, super-powered eyelashes the most hilarious plot ever, it would be you. I am so very jealous of your awesome friends.

Thanks for showing that even ridiculous plots can be steps in the right direction :)

Laura Marcella said...

And I hope that when you're a famous author, you share your epic eyelashes novel with all your adoring fans!

B. A. Binns said...

Bless you and your friends. And let me add my own words of encouragement - keep plugging. You will be that famous author, and with your level of enthusiasm and push from your friends, it won't take much longer. They sound awesome.

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent message here! We shouldn't be afraid to dream big. :)

Ishta Mercurio said...

Aw, thank you! You're awesome. And your friends sound pretty awesome, too.

This was a great post. It's so important to remember that even when what we produce is crap, it's valuable crap that is teaching us lessons that we need to learn.

Mary Vensel White said...

Another funny post to break up my day! I've awarded you The Versatile Blogger award on my blog...pop over to read all about it. Really enjoy your observations.

Abby Minard said...

Ooh, magical eyelashes. Sounds awesome! So happy your friends were so supportive- mine are too, and it really helps!

Jennifer Jackson said...

So many writers are the first ones to abandon their own ship so it is crucial to have those types of friends around.

H. N. Stone said...

Beautifully put. Very touching and encouraging! As writers, I agree that we need that strong support system, especially starting such a terrifying and wonderful adventure as writing a novel.

Vicki Rocho said...

I have the perfect sequel for the purple eyelash book. I had this really involved dream once about magic red fingernails. Their power saved me from not one, not two, but THREE thugs that broke into my friend's house during a sleepover. I think we need to collaborate, bestie!

D. U. Okonkwo said...

I'm all for dreaming big - they're the only dreams to have if you ask me! Anything smaller is merely a wish :o)

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