Planting Dreams: Happy April!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I don’t just love April.

I adore April.

As much as, even, caffeine, good wine and Hugo Boss shirts.

This means major props for April.

April marks that moment of the year – especially in Michigan – when I can finally walk outside without screaming, “I’m going to lose an earlobe!”

It’s that time when I can inhale deeply and breathe in that memorable scent of spring. I can close my eyes and hear the birds chirp, the earth reawaken.

I also love spring, especially this year, because it marks an important anniversary in my life.

Some eight years ago, I quit my job to pursue my passion.

At the time, I had just finished my first memoir, America’s Boy, after waking for years at 4:30 in the morning while working fulltime and living in the city. I had just landed an agent. My book was within a few months of being published. And, Gary and I had just quit our high-paying jobs with benefits and moved 400 miles to take up residence in a knotty-pine cottage in the woods where I was going to try to become the offspring of Erma Bombeck, David Sedaris and Henry David Thoreau.

We didn’t just leap off a bridge. We leapt without parachutes.

The landing hurt.

Two weeks after uprooting our world and taking the biggest risks of our lives – and just weeks before America’s Boy was set to publish – my editor quit to take a job at another publishing house.

I was alone in the literary ocean without a paddle. Alone in the woods without a compass.

Although my first book was critically acclaimed, it came and went quickly, like a Kevin Costner movie.

I didn’t know if I would write another book, sell another book, survive. Actually, I didn’t know if I could even write another book. That’s how shaken I was.

So, Gary took me into our garden one April afternoon and pointed at his just-blooming tulips, flowers of peach, red, purple, and yellow, swaying like crayons in the wind.

“I planted these bulbs last fall,” he said, bending down to touch the tender petals. “I didn’t know if they all would bloom, but I was compelled to do the work, to take that risk. And just look at the result. It was worth all the effort and belief, wasn’t it?”

I remember plucking a creamy peach tulip and putting it in a McCoy vase on my writing desk that crisp, sunny April day. I made a promise to myself, staring at the tulip: You will achieve your dream, Wade, if you just believe and work hard. I also promised myself that if I could make it five years, then I could make it the rest of my life as a writer.

I started in earnest that April day and finished my second memoir a few months later. It sold just after that to a new editor and publishing house.

It is now eight years – and a total of five books – later. It hasn’t always been easy. But dreams never are.

I am now working on my first novel. A new dreams begins. One also filled with great risk and uncertainty.

I am again wandering into the unknown, just like many of the heroes and heroines from our favorite books. Most of our beloved protagonists from our most beloved books take great risks in their lives. They follow their dreams. They risk their hearts. They understand that life is all about pursuing passion, be it in romance or career.

That, too, is a theme for the women in my first novel: Risks they took, ones they didn’t, and the impact that had on their lives.

I continue to take great risks in my writing and life, and I always will. And even when things get thorny, I still consider life to be abloom.

I continue to work hard and believe even harder, though I may not always be able to see the petals when my face is to the ground.

But it comes down to believing in your dreams – and hard work – if you want life’s garden to be ablaze in color. 

This April, I urge you all to remember to take a moment to stop, breathe in the spring air, and believe in your dreams.

Gardeners aren’t the only ones who can begin to see the fruits of their labor in April.

We all can.

But we must first plant the seeds.