Do You Have a Dream?
dream started when I was in high school and was chosen
for my high school newspaper staff. Being part of that
staff had been a dream and it grew from there. When a
Grace Allison sent me a copy of her new Do
You Have a Dream workbook it got me
to looking back at how my dreams progressed—the
big ones and little, the new ones and old. Sometimes the
big barriers in life aren’t abject poverty, dreaded
disease or death. Sometimes it’s the subtle ones
set upon us by time and place. The ones that creep up
silently on padded feet and, if we sense them at all,
we choose not to turn and face them.
50s and 60s were times—even more than today—when
these kinds of barriers faced those with dark skin, those
who lived in closed religious communities, and those who
were female. I think I did pretty well, but I think I
would have done even better if I had a little workbook
like the one Grace sent me to easily guide me through
the years—the keyword being “easily.”
When I applied
for a job as a writer at Hearst Corporation in New York
in 1961 I was required to take a typing test. I was piqued
because I wasn’t applying for the typing-pool, I
was applying for a post as an editorial assistant.
I was told,
“No typing test, no interview.” I took the
test and was offered a job in the ranks of those who could
do seventy- in-a-minute. I had to insist upon the interview
I had been promised. I was only twenty and had no real
skills in assertiveness. I am amazed I had the wherewithal
to do that considering the times I was raised in. Assertiveness
was not a skill much appreciated in young girls.
similar was at work when I married and had children. I
happily left my writing to accommodate my husband’s
career and the life the winds of the times presented to
me. That there was a time when we didn’t know we
had choices is not fiction.
When I started
dreaming about writing the next “Gone with the Wind”
only about Utah instead of about the South a little book
I could open to any page and spend a couple of minutes
with perhaps my plan would have so quickly gone with the
wind. Or at lease, perhaps it would have been easier to
It was the 1950s. Women in that time and place, had a
notion of who they should be, could be and, mostly, they
got it from those around them because many of them couldn’t
see the difference from society’s expectations and
“You can’t be a nurse,” my mother said.
“Your ankles aren’t sturdy enough.”
I also was told I couldn’t be a doctor because that
wasn’t a woman’s vocation. The choice left
to me was to be a teacher. My dream to write became a
victim of the status quo.
following my star I searched for replacements. My husband
and I built a business. For forty years I didn’t
write or thought I didn’t because I didn’t
have a guide to force me to examine my path. If I had
I would have noticed that I was writing ad copy and employee
guides and that might have helped me pursue some other
came slowly as women became more aware. The equipment,
gears, and pulleys were in place for a different view
on life. In midlife I became aware that there was an empty
hole where my children had been but also that the hole
was vaster than the space vacated by them. I knew I not
only would be able to write, I would need to write.
Then I read
another book—this one by Deepak Chopra. I can’t
remember the title but he noted that those who live until
they are fifty in these times may very likely see their
hundredth year. That meant that I might have another entire
lifetime before me--plenty of time to do whatever I wanted.
In fact, it’s my belief that women in their 50s
might have more time for their second life because they
won’t have to spend the first twenty years preparing
was it. I started writing my first novel
This is the Place, now out of print but still
available on Amazon’s “New and Used”
feature (bless their little bookish hearts!) I had to
relearn old skills and brush up on new, and I am proud
that I did it. I’m glad that I waited until I was
sixty. Forty years of experience gave it a dimension it
would not have had if I had written it when I was young.
That first novel has expanded into four books including
a new several chabpooks of poetry, including Tracings
from Finishing Line Press. And those books I’ve
written to help fellow authors? The HowToDoItFrugally
series, born of being the daughter of a depression era
mom. Each of us women must pass along whatever our time
and place gives us in abundance. I like that I am doing
something for other women and for other writers.
I like that
I have found how the wisdom of other women—and men—have
made a difference in my life. I also like being proof
that a new life can start late—or that it is never
too late to revive a dream.
Tips and Tidbits
(Each month in this box, Carolyn
lists a Tidbit that will help authors write or promote
better. She will also include a Tip to help readers
find a treasure among long-neglected books or a
sapphire among the newly-published.)
is a writer these days. Maybe my multi
Frugal Editor will remind them of
the skills they already have, help polish
them to give them more confidence, and
give them some new ones that will help
them enter an industry without fear. They
will probably love knowing that lots of
rules that stifle our creativity aren’t
rules at all, that we get to make style
choices. Emphasis on the word choices.
inspiration for this column came from
@GracetheMystic ‘s little $2.99
e-book/workbook or slim paperback
workbook that is no work at all. I am
a fan of Rhonda Byrne’s The
Secret and Grace’s book
is an easy refresher like no other!
art by Richard Conway Jackson who is serving
twenty-five years to life in a California
State prison for receiving stolen property.
Howard-Johnson is a multi award-winning novelist, poet
and author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of
how-to books. She occasionally teaches classes for the
renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program.
Website - My
Review Blog - Email