By Sheri Wren Haymore
We entered the foyer of a favorite restaurant one busy weekend evening just as the manager burst out of the kitchen through a side door. There was sweat at his temples, sauce spilled down his chef’s jacket, and a certain wild-eyed expression on his face. Upon recognizing us, he threw a nod in our direction, exclaimed, “Livin’ the dream, Baby; livin’ the dream,” and kept right on rolling toward the dining room.
I totally got it.
And I recognized that wild-eyed expression because I’ve caught my reflection in the mirror and seen it on my own face. It’s the look you get when you’re working your buns off, and it’s still not enough. It’s a gaze of frantic desperation coupled with a sideways glance of anticipation and a blink of satisfaction.
It’s the way you look when you’re living your dream.
Just last year, with two novels recently published and a full calendar of book marketing adventures, I’m pretty sure I carried that expression everywhere I went. I was having a ball living the almost-famous life, filling the role of celebrity speaker for writing groups, writing the occasional magazine article—and all the while keeping my end of our small business running. On a regular basis, someone would approach me and ask, “When are you going to write another book? I can’t wait to read the next one!” And over and over, I’d say, “I would if I had the time.”
Actually, I was having too much fun Livin’ the Dream to get back to the dirty work of being an
author. Finally, I took a three-day writing retreat in late August and got a great start on that next novel. And then Life happened.
You know what I mean by Life, don’t you? Grand adventures, as well as a few misadventures, right? Joyful occasions, and a string of not-so-joyous ones. Since August, I’ve waved my ninety-year-old mother off on her first motorcycle ride and buried a brother-in-law. I’ve played for hours on end with our funny little dog, and prayed for hours over a hurting loved one. I’ve stood at a graveside with parents whose child was gone too soon, and literally gotten in the floor and wept with a friend whose child had broken her heart.
Sometimes Life is just too much, and too often, it looks nothing like The Dream.
And so it was this winter that I found myself overwhelmed by the weight of other folks’ burdens and mired in trifling distractions. I felt stagnant; I had no desire to finish my third novel. I deserve to be carefree! I’ve already proven that I can write. I don’t want to go down that vortex of late nights and preoccupied days again. Or so I told myself.
But The Dream just won’t shut up. A few days ago, I spotted a friend of a friend whom I’d only met once before. When I called her name, she spun around, pointed her finger at me, and barked, “You need to make a movie! And why aren’t you home writing another book?”
People sure can make Livin’ the Dream sound easy.
Can you relate? No matter what Livin’ the Dream looks like for you, there comes a time when, disheartened, you ask yourself, What’s the point?
My friend Melanie says that it’s essential to get at the heart of your desire. In other words, you really MUST ask, “What’s the point?” My inner dialogue today has gone something like this:
Why did you want to be an author in the first place? Because I’m good at it. And what else? Because I have stories to tell. Why does that matter? Because the world needs good stories. Anything else? Because it makes me happy. And what else? When I write, I feel Heaven’s smile.
Sheri Wren Haymore is the author of two novels so far, A Higher Voice and A Deeper Cut. Sheri grew up in Mt. Airy, NC, and still lives thereabouts with her husband and a pup named Cercie. Together, they've made a living running a couple of small business, and made a life doing the things they enjoy--traveling, hiking, camping, kayaking. Sheri loves music and yoga, inventing gourmet meals from random ingredients, laughing with friends, and most especially spending time with her daughter. A graduate of High Point University, she has burned more pages than most people will ever write, and is currently scribbling a third novel, which may or may not survive the flames. My social media links are http://www.sheriwrenhaymore.com/ http://www.facebook.com/sheriwrenhaymore http://www.twitter.com/sheriwrenauthor (@sheriwrenauthor)