Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dream a little Dream

WHEN YOU were wee, did you have a dream? Did you spend your days wishing you could be a princess or a popstar, a doctor or an astronaut?
Me? My childhood dreams were simple. I wanted to be Princess Leia from Star Wars and marry Luke Skywalker. (That was before I found out that Princess Leia was Luke Skywalker’s sister and before I realised that Han Solo in the form of Harrison Ford was a much more appealing option.)
If I couldn’t be Princess Leia, I would want to be her best friend and, if by some weird twist of fate that didn’t happen, well I’d settle for being a primary school teacher, or a writer of books. (I say writer but what I meant was someone who spent her days writing her own version of ‘Cinderella’ over and over again with accompanying illustrations in crayon.)
I’m not sure what age I was when I lost my overwhelming desire to be Princess Leia. I imagine it was directly linked to the whole Luke Skywalker being her brother situation. I was probably a little bit older when I decided I didn’t want to be her best friend either (I probably wanted to be Sindy’s best friend by that stage.)
I do remember I was about 15 when I decided that given my irrationally short fuse around children, it would be unwise for me to follow my teaching dream, but as regular readers of this column will know I never gave up on the writing dream.
Sure I put it on the back burner for a while (around the time I realised that my own childish version of ‘Cinderella’ was a direct rip off of the original and that publishers weren’t really interested in crayon pictures), but it was always there eating away at me until I couldn’t ignore it any more. And it has been amazing to actually go for my dream.
It was liberating, if scary, to decide I was going to give it my best shot and just see what happened. There was always the chance it could have gone horribly wrong because the big thing about dreams is that when you decide to fulfil them, you are generally opening yourself up to a world where people will comment on what you are doing in whatever terms they see fit.
I’ve been relatively lucky. The critics for the most part have been kind and the negative comments have been either just quite funny (I overuse the word “wee” apparantly, which I think is a very Derry thing) or constructive. Only one has been truly nasty and was in the form of an anonymous email, so it hasn’t given me too many sleepless nights.
Perhaps because of this I’ve been watching the last few weeks of the X-Factor with increased admiration for those singers who stand up in front of the scary panel of judges and sing their hearts out.I’m pretty sure that some of them must know they aren’t very good and that for a variety of reasons they don’t stand a chance of making it as the next Leona Lewis or Shane Ward.
It’s obvious some of them are just doing it for a bit of craic. (Surely some of them aren’t that deluded), but it still takes guts and courage to stand there and sing your heart out on national TV, whatever the outcome. I would never have the nerve to do what they have done, but I admire them for shooting for their stars and trying to achieve their dreams. You see I think we all need our dreams and our aspirations.
It could be that one day we will sing in a West End Musical (my older sister), or fly in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon (my daddy). It could be that we dream of being a fire-fighter/ builder/ basketball player (my son) or that we dream of inventing a calorie and fat free chocolate bar (Donna Pryce in the ‘Journal’ office) - but it is these dreams that get us through the day and we all need them.
Last week a survey conducted by “YouGov” revealed that my dream is the most popular among adults in the UK. Ten per cent of us want to be writers. That tops being a sports personality, a pilot or an astronaut and the coveted X-factor winning popstar role. From where I sit, it’s a pretty good dream to have and when it comes true it will exceed all your expectations. (Perhaps not in terms of money, there are few and far between writers in the league of JK Rowling) but, in terms of personal satisfaction it kind of rocks.
So I would say if you have a dream, then go for it. You can make it happen (well, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be Princess Leia or marry Luke Skywalker) but as the song says “if you try, try and try, you’ll get what you need”.

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