Life Is But A Dream? – Guest Post by Jaq D Hawkins…

Another new year and another fresh start on achieving whatever our goals may be.

I have a little niggle. I come across it in articles all too often and have also had it come up in my filmmaking efforts. It’s just a matter of semantics, but we who deal in words know the power they carry.


When we set out to write a novel or to make a film, or any other creative endeavour, there are those who will refer to this ambition as “Your Dream”. The first time this was used towards me in relation to filmmaking it made my skin crawl. Why? Because a dream is something intangible. A dream isn’t reality, but images in the mind that fade away with no hold on reality.

Some might say it is also a term used to stimulate imagination of what might be made to happen, but to me, it keeps the goal that one step away from where you might grasp it and make it real.

I first developed serious ambition to be a writer when I was thirteen. It was never a dream to write a novel, but an intent. A goal. An ambition. It was something I would learn how to do. I studied the business, I sent a first story to be rejected by Reader’s Digest, I continued to learn as much about the publishing business as there was information available over many years.

Writing has always been a reality for me. If my stories weren’t good enough at thirteen, I would learn to make them better. As it happened, it was non-fiction that first led to publication. Writing for specialist magazines that paid in free copies. From there I moved into small publisher non-fiction specialist publication, in the same subject matter where I had begun to develop a reputation.

Over the years, I occasionally sent short stories here and there. I collected the rejection slips with calm and calculating dispassion, focusing on working out why it was rejected rather than getting emotional about it.

Then one day a publisher explained that they had too many stories on the subject I had written about, but they would love to see something else by me as they liked my writing. While writing can always be improved, this was evidence that I was up to the task, only there’s a whole world of editors receiving hundreds of stories for a dozen places and rejecting a lot of good stories because they chose the ones that best suited their vision for the anthology.

Eventually many of my stories would be accepted, having learned to anticipate what the editors looked for and writing to theme.

The point of going over this personal history is that if writing had been an elusive dream, I might well have given it up after years of rejections. If it had been an intangible fantasy, I might have put more effort into a more practical career.

Same with filmmaking. I used to think the only people who could make films were big studios or professionals born with thirty years experience somehow. Then I read The Guerrilla Filmmaker’s Handbook and with a little encouragement from friends who had gone to film school, realised that I could do that. I now have one film on Amazon Prime and another in editing Hell, but I managed to get two films ‘in the can’ on no budget.

Yes they are Ed Wood level amateurish Horror films, but there’s a market for that and the experience was a lesson in working out how to achieve a goal despite obstacles. My cameraman goes on holiday, I find volunteers from the local City College. My actors get sick or snowed in on a shoot day, we do different scenes and catch up the planned ones another day. It was an amazing lesson in the extent of my own resourcefulness.

What makes it possible to accomplish my creative goals is looking at them as goals, not dreams. If I want to write a novel set in Victorian England, I learn some details about the era, constantly study writing even after fifty years of doing it so that sentence structure, scene progression and story arcs work, as well as improving word artistry on edits and letting my imagination loose on developing plot rather than wasting time thinking of writing the novel as a ‘dream’.

Most people reading this will already have books in publication, but I see first timers post on social media about writing a novel sometime in the future and want to say to them, just do it. Don’t dream about it, write the scenes you see in your head. Even if you don’t have a whole plot worked out, just write. Do it. Do it now.

This time next year, what accomplishments will you look back on from this year’s efforts?

Jaq D Hawkins

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17 thoughts on “Life Is But A Dream? – Guest Post by Jaq D Hawkins…

  1. Similar start to mine (excluding the film making) where unable to get my short fiction published, I instead got a job with a magazine and learned the publishing business. After six years I was the one who decided what short stories would make the mags and after eight was editor and partner in the business. I suppose it was a dream but one I was willing to work for.
    Oh, and I love low budget horror films, or I should say I love horror films, no matter the budget.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with you on this one, Jaq. My dream was to be a champion show jumper. Still is — or maybe it’s more an eventer now show jumping seems a bit precocious. Never mind I don’t have the talent, the time or the money. (in that order!)
    Goals, though. Goals are real. Goals are achievable. When ‘well-meaning’ friends tell you your writing is rubbish, you can work on it so it isn’t. Talent? Maybe, but imagination, hard work and an eye on what a good story is–that works better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I imagine a substantial investment is involved in show jumping!

      Yet to make an odd comparison, many rock stars started out putting every penny they had into musical equipment. It’s an arena where I’ve seen close up the difference between those who dream and those who work towards a goal. The band who says they’ll play Los Angeles ‘someday’, never do.

      You’re quite right about writing too. A lot comes down to work. I’ve been published since the 1980s and still read articles on how to write well, because you never stop learning!

      Like

  3. Expressed perfectly, Jaq. Writing is work. It may be more fun work than, say, moving heavy boxes. But, as I’m over-fond of saying, it’s butt on seat, applying pen to paper or fingers to keyboard or voice to recorder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Work that comes with passion. The satisfaction of writing something you can read later and still say it’s good is incomparable. And even if it turns out to be less good, the enjoyment of doing it while it’s happening can never be taken away.

      Liked by 1 person

    • As I said, it’s just a matter of semantics. We each interpret a word in our own way, but for me, achieving a goal has always been a practical matter of working out what steps it takes to get there and doing them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Those are good points, Jaq. I must admit, I’ve never thought it out like that. But maybe there’s a specific usage of the word “dream” that means an ideal or inspiration. Maybe it’s the thing that leads one to specify a goal and work toward it. Think of M.L. King’s “I have a dream” speech. Would it have been better if he’d said “I have a goal”? Maybe, but I really don’t know.

    Liked by 2 people

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