Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, November 15, 2010

As I See It: Not Giving Up on the Dream

I had a dream that began when I was ten-- to be a writer like Beverly Cleary, my favorite childhood author. I wrote my first story on a big clunky, old-fashioned typewriter. It was about a girl and a turtle. Hooray, I was on my way to becoming a real author LOL.

I first got published when I was in my 20's, by selling a children's story to The Friend magazine. Then I sold another and another. One showed up in print, the other two never did. But they still paid me. Awesome. Getting paid to write-- what a rush.

But my writing goals got interrupted and postponed countless times through the years. My husband and I had a large family, and I was really busy raising kids, those convenient little excuses for not writing. Here's a few of my excuses all grown up:


Me with six of my eight boys. (One was in Africa, another in Air Force Basic Training, I also have two beautiful daughters not pictured.) In all that's ten, yes ten, children--many good reasons for postponing my own writing dreams. Because this I believe: "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." (David O. McKay)

So if I was going to have these kids, I would have to give up stuff in order to raise them. Because really, I'm not a high energy person. Even in my 30's, I got tired easily. Knowing that about myself, it was essential to set limits and priorities, because I couldn't do it all or have it all.

But eventually my childhood dream was realized, and two books with my name on them are found in bookstores and libraries.  It took much longer than I expected, but I did it. And I'm still at it. Although I'd like to be more prolific.

I wish I weren't such a slow writer. I procrastinate, waste time, goof off and stare a lot. But I won't quit. More dreams, more books. For someone whose dream began 50 years ago, it took way too long. I should have dozens of books lining the shelves instead of just two.

But that's not the point. I can't compare myself with others who have found greater success in their writing careers. I can't look back. I need to be glad for what I have done, not regretting how long it took. I raised an incredible family, and I sure don't regret that for one second.

Don't you think that as long as we keep at it, and never give up, we can achieve our dreams? Maybe not on our timetable. Maybe not to the extent that some of us might imagine in our fantasies. But if we just never give up, it will happen. That's how I see it. Rock on, my writer friends, and don't ever give up.

61 comments:

  1. I love this post. It's so encouraging to see that you have, indeed, realized your dreams. You give me hope that someday I will too!

    Thanks. Great Monday morning uplift :)

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  2. Oh, Karen, this could have been my post as well, except for the 10 children, of course. My dream didn't come true until I was in my fifties. And now that I'm about to turn 62 and collect Social Security, they are still coming true. It is truly never too late.
    Karen

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  3. considering the sweet things I have read about your kids on your blog, I will definitely say you did a great job. I have just the one kid and I am tired all the time you are one strong lady Karen.

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  4. I am awed by your family. I have two grown daughters. Of course, I didn't start having my children until I was in my mid-thirties and didn't marry until thirty, so I guess that is good. Plus money was an issue and health. I love them as I know you love your family. Writing is a wonderful goal and I wouldn't want to live without it, but family will always be first.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  5. Part of achieving our dreams is enjoying the process of working toward our goals. And there's no timetable on that.

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  6. Katen what an inspiration you are, I cant get past the 10 kids, I just have two am I lucky to write anything in a day.
    I read a diary entry from my 13 year old self the other day, and I had written in red ink, 'I got my first poem published today', we are meant to do this I think, I am going to try and track my poem down in the archives, will do a blogpost on it.

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  7. No, YOU rock on, Karen! :o) Great post. People are too preoccupied with speed nowadays. Who cares how long it takes. It's the quality that matters.

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  8. That is one good-looking family you have there. You're pretty darned successful, if you ask me. :)

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  9. I can do it and I will do. I will not give up. Reading this blog first thing in the morning is a great start to a day. The sun is out and I will be successful with what I need to acomplish today. Thanks for the boost, KarenG!

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  10. Wow, ten kids! A very handsome family. It's hard not to compare ourselves to others, but we have to celebrate our own lives and our own succeses. Raising 10 kids AND publishing 2 books? A wonderful achievement! (and I'm sure those are only 2 of many . . . or is is 12 of many?)

    Kudos to you for not giving up!

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  11. PS. I forgot to say that I love the picture. There is just something about a bunch of good looking men in suits...

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  12. great post, Karen; I'm not giving on my dream either :)

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  13. Plain Jane, And they'd be even more good looking if they were in tuxedos. It's their sister's wedding after all, why didn't I see to that?

    And thus we get a glimpse into my messed up head where nothing I do is ever good enough aaargh!!

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  14. Ahh Karan, so beautifully said. Too many people think their dreams should shut down when they reached a certain*Ahem* age. But here's to all who know that true dreams can be deferred, but never abandoned.

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  15. Absolutely! You have worked at both dreams, actually. Raising your family had to come first, as nothing can be more important.

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  16. Loved your post! It's great that you achieved your dream. Also, loved the reminder that everyone's different and each of us have our own timetable and path to follow.

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  17. yes. I believe that 100 percent--all of this, including the failure at home. And omg--LOL! eight boys??? Your house must've been crazy fun. Great work, mama bear~ :o)

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  18. This was so, so encouraging. Thanks for giving to perspective to those of us still in our 20s and wondering what comes next...

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  19. Great post, Karen! You are one awesome woman. Ten kids? I have six, and I thought that was a lot. Having a family while being a writer is beneficial for me. My kids are always encouraging and loyal on those days when I feel discouraged about my w.i.p. They love me whether I use too many adjectives or not.

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  20. Wonderfully written, Karen. I think if you're open to new things and ways to get to your dream besides the traditional routes, it can definitely happen!

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  21. Love the photo Karen. I have a family of four and I totally enjoyed my time with them. I had a few essays published and a poem or two before I was married and had children, but once the children arrived I wrote but more as a salve for myself. Now I feel my writing time has come. I just need to get my act together!!! :)

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  22. I hear you loud and clear! And what a great-looking family. Congratulations on all your successes. I can't imagine ten kids. Or knowing at ten that you wanted to be a writer. Awesome.

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  23. Your story is so inspirational, Karen. I see many parallels in my own life (except w/ 4 kids instead of 10). Sometimes I wonder if I started too late in the game, but I'm not giving up. Not yet. Thank you for sharing your journey!

    Oh! And what a lovely family :)

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  24. Sure! I put off even beginning the journey for years.
    Ten kids.
    Wow.
    Still trying to wrap my brain around that one...

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  25. Oh but you are prolific - just look at your blogs!! And it's quality not quantity!! And you're living your dream - you are a published author with a fantastic family!!! Yay for you!!

    Take care
    x

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  26. What gorgeous boys you have Karen! What you said was very inspiring!

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  27. It seems to me that you're doing incredibly well. Ten children! Wow. And with all that going on you still published two books!

    You're amazing. That picture is so lovely, Karen.

    Jai

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  28. Karen, what a beautiful family! (Are they all taller than you?) Yikes, I thought two boys was a lot!

    I do think we shouldn't give up on our dreams. If I didn't I'd just be reading books instead of attempting to write one. And you're not behind -- you are three books ahead of me!

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  29. Very inspiring post! I enjoyed reading it. 10 kids -wow- I only have two lol. You should be proud of yourself because you have accomplished so much- you have raised ten kids, you have made yourself an author even with a family- and you have made it work...that's worth a whole lot of respect. :)

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  30. Summer, Thanks for your feel good comment :)

    Colette, Yes, they're all taller than me now. The boys used to watch carefully and felt a real victory when they finally got "taller than Mom." In fact most of them are now taller than Dad, too.

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  31. Ten children! Incredible! You're dream of being published took a bit longer than you expected, but raising ten children is an amazing feat itself. I think it must be tougher than getting published!

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  32. Wow, ten kids! I have trouble finishing one book, and I don't even have any kids! I really admire you for sticking to your dream and accomplishing all that you have, while still maintaining your connection to your family. That's great! :)

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  33. Er, did you say ten? In which case, if you hadn't sold a book until you were 90, that would still have been understandable.

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  34. Aw man, I so want to give up right now.

    You have already accomplished far more than most ever will. And you're so, so humble about it---one of the many things that make you cool. ;)

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  35. Ten kids? TEN?? Ok, I am never complaining again. About anything.

    And THANK YOU! I needed someone to tell me to rock on with the writing today. :) All the best to you, my friend!

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  36. WOW!!! I'm sort of speechless. You are amazing!

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  37. *jaw drops* TEN kids? That's so awesome! I love that you kept pursuing your dream (I love Beverly Cleary as well!)

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  38. Jennifer, Susan, Nicki-- Do you Omnific authors always comment in clusters LOL?

    Terry, Amazing enough to win one of your autographed books? That's one contest I don't want to miss!

    Fran, If I don't get with it, my next book won't come out until I'm 90.

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  39. "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." (David O. McKay)

    That, my dear blogger buddy, is one heck of quote. I love it. And I am amazed that you've raised 10 wonderful kids. THAT is success.

    This is one of those posts that puts it all in perspective. A wonderful family is the real dream (or thankfully, the reality), and the rest is gravy!

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  40. I think the dream is to succeed at something we're passionate about, not how long it takes. Good for you for making it happen. We all will, if we keep at it! :)

    Angela @ The bookshelf Muse

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  41. Even though it took a long time, I'm glad you accomplished that. Wow, 10 children! That's a lot. I have one and low energy, I have no doubt you had little.
    CD

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  42. Agreed. I was 54 when I realized the dream, and though I am only a pebble in this large ocean, I love it.

    And I only have two children as my excuse along with a LOAD of procrastination.

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  43. I've never given up the writing/publishing dream; but I've come to realize, the older I get, that in the eternal scheme of things, it's not the light at the end of the tunnel (to use several cliches!!).
    Ann

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  44. p.s. The "light" is to have raised such a wonderful family as yours!!! (If that makes sense; I don't know if I'm making sense tonight. It's been a long year LOL.)

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  45. You laugh when I complain about being a future mother of one, don't you? Ha. But really that's pretty awesome and inspiring that you could even still be awake enough to write with ten kids! Kudos!

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  46. The biggest thing here is never giving up.The second biggest thing is believing in what you write, in your own talent. With those two, you can conquer anything, even getting published again and again.

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  47. Holy... TEN children? Wow. Now that's an achievement! But two books isn't bad either. It's more than many others have managed! Never give up - that's very true. Great post, Karen. Very touching and great points.

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  48. Wow, I now feel like a lightweight for being waylaid by three kidlings. Bet you could teach me a thing or two...

    Good thing you didn't put an expiration date on your dream!

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  49. I think we all want it to happen fast, make it happen quickly, show ourselves that we are awesome. The more you move the more you realize life still trucks along and you've got to keep up with that pace of reality even when all you want to do is write.

    I commend you for having 10 children, post-poning the dream and at the end coming out with 2 novels to tell the tale and show the success. It's quite the accomplishment and I'm sure we'll see many more from you!

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  50. Holy cow! Eight boys?! No wonder you were tired in your 30s! I'm tired just reading about it! (and my two kids made me tired all on their own!) I'm glad you've managed to come back to it!

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  51. I love this post! Thank you so much for writing it.

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  52. Rock on, sista. You've accomplished so much already. :)

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  53. Lovely, inspiring post. I'm so happy to have found your blog.

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  54. Now that's impressive - ten children and two books. I have been writing books since I was 40 - for twenty years and have six novels and one completed work of non-fiction, on my four years living in Angola during the civil war, plus poetry, short stories but only two children, born in my early twenties and still not published. Sigh. My excuse is working as a journalist and editor and concentrating on writing not on getting published while setting up home 34 times in 40 years in up to ten different countries.... most of them in the Third World where you don't get post offices or reliable phone connections. But it doesn't really matter. The writing matters and in this day and age of the blog we can put our writing up where someone at least can read it as opposed to languishing in a drawer. There is a lot of fate and destiny involved in getting published and even more involved in having any sort of lasting success as an author. Carpe Diem! And enjoy the moment for it is all you have; published, unpublished, successful (by someone else's definition) or unsuccessful!

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  55. And I would add, putting the wellbeing of my family - my husband and children - before my writing is a decision I have never regretted. The older I get the more I know that 'success' is a qualified definition and ephemeral: people matter, particularly your family; everything else is things and stuff!

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  56. OMG, ten kids!! You are an amazing and strong woman and knowing this makes me admire you, even more! How on earth did you even find time to write? I only have two and they drive me batty, at times! lol You are such an inspiration to me!

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  57. Ten...wow. I feel like with one teenager I'm way out of my depth. I bow to your superior, rockstar Mom abilities...

    This is such a wonderful, honest post, and the timing for me was fortuitous in reading it. Thank you so much for it.

    ~bru

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  58. Hi Karen,

    Thankyou for the note you left on my ancestry blog. I do have a few blogs and Followers on any are always good. I first set up a blog to put some of my books on and then ventured into putting up books I am writing as blogs; like my ancestry book; my malawi book and the book on spirituality. It makes the writing process less solitary I find. I am currently living in Malawi and write probably more regularly on that blog, Blantyre Street, but nice to think you are out there somewhere.
    I thought your blogsite was great and think/feel it is so important for writers to have this form of communication, particularly when, like me, there isn't any other form of contact within sight. Then again, even when I am in Australia I never seem to find the time to join clubs to talk about things with other writers so the net probably suits me best of all.

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  59. This post makes me feel sad, nostalgic, and inspired all at the same time!

    I needed this today, thanks!

    You have a lovely family and I can't believe you managed to raise ten children and still have a mind in good enough shape to write =P Just Kidding! Really, you're an inspiration!

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