I have always had dreams. They have varied from career goals to better habits to winning the lottery! They have been driven by different things during my life - recognition and approval or heady teenage desire and having my head in the clouds. Looking back, it has been interesting to note when my dreams are propelled by lack or negative thinking, they never match up to reality or they fizzle and fade as soon as the going gets tough.
One of my dreams, of being a recognised artist in my late twenties and early thirties, was fuelled by guilt and ego. Because I had spent the best part of my education in art college and being 'the creative one', I felt I had to live up to this reputation and expectation - if I didn't make artwork, then I wasn't fulfilling my potential. After many years of chasing this dream, of exhibitions, gallery work and commissions, I laid this down and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
When you create a life around a certain identity, it can be difficult to move away from it when your interests or desires change. It is especially hard when you have carved out a lifestyle or career around a particular dream, and then you realise the dream wasn't the right one after all. During the past three year I have spent a lot of time laying down things that don't really fit me anymore; they may be uncomfortable, worn out or just don't suit me. I still love art and design and all things creative, but I am not driven to be an artist and there is no hidden agenda, I can be honest about this now and enjoy art without a pang of guilt or regret.
Writing, on the other hand, has been a different story - it is my 80's love story - Pretty in Pink or Some Kind of Wonderful (if you haven't seen either of these, they're quirky, schmaltzy, American teenage films - well worth a watch). Writing for me has been the boy next door, the side kick who is always there for you, but you don't think of as anything more than a really good friend, when in fact they turn out to be the love of your life!
Now, like all good romantic films, where the boy gets the girl and they walk off into the sunset together, there is a sense that when the film credits roll everything will be perfect. When I finally admitted my love for writing, the fantasy for me was the image below - a misty, romantic affair, in sun lit Parisian cafes, or hidden away in a quaint cabin in the woods, languishing over words with a cappuccino in hand. I had images of me writing for hours at a time, dedicating days to research and having inspiration strike at every turn!
The reality is somewhat different. I haven't been to Paris in the past eighteen months, or even sat with my laptop in a local cafe for that matter. There is no misty haze, perfectly done hair and make-up or new stylish wardrobe. The sun has shone, but not through the windows of a cabin in the woods. And as for days or hours of uninterrupted writing time, well, let's just say I can get a lot written in 30 minutes!
But do you know what? I've discovered writing is for life, not just for my ego or goal or chasing a dream or some worthy pursuit. I do not need the perfect place, situation or circumstances to write. I do not need approval or recognition. I do not even need stretches of dedicated time. Because I love writing so much, I make it work, no matter what. Recently I had a big project - my book proposal to complete and send off. This was written whilst working part time, home schooling and nursing two sickly children with D&V! Why do I tell you this? Not to brag, but to say that if you love doing something enough, you will make time for it, whatever comes your way.
You do not need things to be perfect, or for your life to change, or to even have the right kit/equipment/lifestyle/wardrobe! You just need to look at the thing you love, and decide it is worth it. It is worth your time, because it brings you joy. It is worth squeezing it into your already crazy, busy life because it fill you up - if only for 15 minutes. I'd love to know what you love doing - just because you love doing it. Let me know in the comments below or on my Instagram @iamsarahalexcarter
Now, where did I put that chic beret and stripy top!?