Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Are Your Dreams Booby-trapped?





I was twelve, short, and a heck of a lot curvier than most girls in seventh grade. It was never more apparent, or more embarrassing than when all the girls in my class dressed in the mandatory gym outfit for PE.

I wasn’t particularly good at any sport. Hey, my nick name was “Little Peewee.” But my height or lack of athletic abilities didn’t bother me—not that much. I didn’t want to run faster, or get the most points in the basketball game. But there was one thing I did want.

I wanted to become a member of gymnastic team. I’d seen the Olympics on television a year or so before. Like me, a lot of those girls were “peewees” and I’d started dreaming and practicing.

And when I got to Jr. High and saw the gymnastic team do their routines during the pep rallies, I felt a calling. For the first time in my life, I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would do cartwheels and flips and someday I’d appear on TV.

I knew that the mandatory requirements to get into the gymnastics’ team were to do the splits, a cartwheel, a backbend, and a backwards flip that we called a backwards walkover. For weeks, I practiced endlessly. For weeks, I watched the gym team perform. And little by little I watched my dream slip away. I had a huge disadvantage. Two of them, actually.

Boobs. Yup, unlike the girls performing at those pep rallies, I had boobs. Big boobs. I hated them! You see, I’d started developing early and kids had made fun of me. And when I realized the girls jumping up and down on the gym team didn’t have boobs bouncing to and fro like mine, I pretty much accepted that I wouldn’t make the team.

Oh, I still tried out, but my name wasn’t called at the end of the class. The failure stung like the dickens. The death of a dream hurts, even when you’re twelve. I ran home that day, locked my door to my bedroom and had myself one good, long pity cry. As sad as it is, because of that failure, I never tried out for anything ever again in school.


No one said I didn’t make the team because of my boobs, but deep down I believed it. Looking back, I realize that it wasn’t so much because having size C-cup ta-tas made me less aerodynamic, (which I seriously thought back then) it was because I wouldn’t run as fast as I needed to, or bounce as high as the other girls for fear people might be looking at my boobs.

Ahh, but this blog isn’t about boobs, bouncing or otherwise. It’s about dreams, it’s about the hurdles we face and have to overcome to make those dreams come true. It just so happens that my hurdles at the young age of twelve were my boobs.

I can tell you that the only other dream I wanted so badly as becoming a gymnast was the one that came years later: to become a writer. Thankfully, my boobs were not in anyway going to hold me back. But I still had hurdles. I had the same hurdles, freaking big hurdles (bigger than C-cups) that every writer faces.

The hurdle of learning craft, applying craft, getting an agent and editor to believe in you. And the biggest hurdle all writers face . . . dealing with rejection. How do you continue to believe in yourself when those rejections start knocking on your door? One by one, they arrive, each threatening to tear down the little self-confidence you managed to build.

Then on top of those hurdles I had another. While I had a wild imagination, I was diagnosed as learning disabled in the third grade. For me, just getting words on paper wasn’t as easy as most.

Maybe because I was older, maybe because I wanted it more, maybe because my determination had finally managed to catch up with my boobs, but I faced my hurdles a little differently. I learned to take chances, to put myself out there, to stop worrying what other might think and to just follow my heart.

On May 26th, my fourth novel with Dorchester, Gotcha!, will hit the stands. And I just finished my fifth novel, Divorced, Desperate and Deceived, which is due out in November 09.

Recently, a non-writing friend who knew how hard I’d worked to make these dreams come true asked me, “How did you know you would make it?”

I looked at her and answered honestly, “I didn’t know.”

It was true. I didn’t know I would make it. Oh, hell yes, there was a lot of blind faith driving me. Still, down deep, I knew there were never any guarantees. But what I did know with certainty was that I wasn’t quitting. I wasn’t going to half-ass this dream the way I’d half-assed my attempt at the tryouts for the gymnastic team. No embarrassment of boobs, no fear of failure, no lack of trying, was going to hold me back.

Recently, Toni McGee Causey, (http://www.tonimcgeecausey.com/ ). a wonderful writer of the humorous Bobbie Faye series from St. Martins wrote a blog about giving up on your dreams, and I quote her, “You quit when you want something else more. You quit when you have another dream that means more to you.”

During all the rejections, all the years of near misses, I never found another dream I wanted as badly as I wanted to be a writer. You can bet that I still locked myself in my bedroom and had a few pity cries. But when I’d cried myself out, I pulled my big girl panties up and went back at it.

Amazingly, I never stopped loving writing? I wonder if this isn’t part of the key to being successful at accomplishing our dreams: finding something you are so passionate about that you just won’t stop.

What is your dream? What is it that you want to accomplish? Do you love doing it? Are you working at it? Or are you half-assing it?

Is your lack of enthusiasm due to fear of failure, or a lack of self-confidence? Or is it that you are dreaming of something different? I hope all of you are working toward your dreams and I hope none of you will let something as insignificant as a little booby-trap stop you from going after what you want.

34 comments:

Edie said...

Christie, I'm another peewee! We didn't have a gymnastics team at my school, otherwise I might have tried for it.

My dream is publication, and I've been sticking with it when other people would have quit. I can't imagine stopping. That's it for me, and I do feel I'm close to achieving it.

Christie Craig said...

Edie,

Go girl go! I'm cheering you on, and I'll be here to clap extra hard and loud when you make it, too!

CC

Colleen Thompson said...

Great post, Christie!

You reminded me how much I wanted to get a part-time job exercising the Thoroughbreds (along with a pint-sized friend of mine) at a nearby horse farm when I was 12. (I was horse-obsessed to the max.) But I had to be at least 13, and during that gap, I shot up six inches and put on 30 pounds to go with 'em, which put me out of the running for the job for sure.

Thank goodness body type isn't as important for writers. Instead, talent, skill, and will can take you far.

I'm really proud of all you've achieved, but this is just the beginning! Best wishes for the success of Gotcha! (Love that cover and title.)

Christie Craig said...

Colleen,

I can so relate with your 'growing' issues. Give the younger you a hug from me!


You are an inspiration to me, girl. And congrats again on your Rita Final. You know I'll be rooting for you.

CC

Sandy said...

Christie,

I had the opposite problem as a kid from you. I was tall and gawky, and about as graceful as a giant. lol

My dream has been to become a recognizeable author for a long time. I won't quit until I get there.

Michelle said...

I love what you said about not giving up or just half-assing toward your dream.

I haven't posted in a couple weeks, but I always look forward to what you write in your blogs. They make me laugh, cry or sometimes both.

I can't wait to read your next two books, you are one of my autobuys and i'm so glad I found you.

Keri Ford said...

I'm opposite of you. I was flat. Even in high school, I was flat! I only wore a bra in jr. high so that would be less to be teased about. You with your big rack--I would have been so jealous! Am still jealous now. :O)

You mentioned something big, I haven't found anything I want more than publication, and it keeps me going. I'm sure my family was thinking, "Keri found something else to try and do with her life" when I told them I was writing. I flipped my college degree all over the place and never stuck with anything.

Writing stuck. Some days are hard. Some days suck, but I haven't stopped. The worst days for me isn't rejection days. Rejection I can handle. That's part of the career path. It's the days when I pick up a book that's just terrible for a number of reasons (like character development and huge plot holes) and I think, how did this person get there, but not me? Those are the hard days.

Christie Craig said...

Sandy,

I think when we're teens we are always unhappy with how we look. Wait, I'm not sure it ever goes away. We always think the pasture is greener on the other side.

And it sounds as if your dream is becoming realized. Good luck making it happen in a big way.

Thanks for stopping by.

CC

Amanda McIntyre said...

Christie, what an absoultely brilliant entry! As I read this, I found my mind wandering back to the lack of confidence I had in school, comparing myself to all those who made evry obstacle look so effortless!

I find myself at times having that same mentality creep up on me in my writing (Im guessing thats not just me;) but then I realize that my voice is my own and like you I never would have guessed a few years back that I would be writing steamy historical novels for Harlequin Spice.

Gratitude is a good friend, one I've always had, but one who has become more dear as I get older.

My dream encompasses not only my writing, but the grace and gratitude to accept both obstacles and successes admirably.

Otherwise, what is the point of all your hard work to connect with others, if all you do is live in a cocoon and do nothing for anyone else? Just sayin...

Here's soem advice I've received told over the years and I think this is true of any dream as well as writing:
"never give up"
"just write from your heart"
"keep on writing, learn everything about the craft."
"persist, persevere--see the potential and possibility in yourself;)"
"do no be afraid to lend a hand to one climbing that ladder with you"
"be grateful that you are able to do what you love to do."
"don't start writing if you're in it to get rich."

Great post!
Amanda McIntyre
www.amandamcintyre.net

Christie Craig said...

Hi Michelle!

Thanks so much for stopping in. I think all of us are guilty of half-assing things that deserve to be given our all.

I love . . . LOVE being on your autobuy list!

Thank you so much!

CC

Sharon said...

Very inspiring, Christie! And just look at you!

... Sharon

Christie Craig said...

Keri,

I'll tell you what I tell anyone jealous of these boobs. If I could...oh, if only I could, I would loan you a cup or two!!!!!

I was the one in Jr. High jealous of you. I know normally, it should be the other way, but because I did develop early, it made me different. And kids pick on anyone who is different. So by the time I was in fifth grade, I was embarrassed of my boobs.

And girl, I know what you mean about falling face first into writing. I did cross stitching, even played around with painting, but writing grabbed me around the throat and held me there.

Oh, and I know what you mean about sometimes wondering how some people make it and you don’t. I discovered reading books that didn’t thrill me was really educational. Because I studied them to see if I could discover the one thing that editor or agent, and maybe both, found promising. Hold tight to your dreams, girl. Keep working it, and keep loving it. That is what will help you arrive.

Thanks so much for posting.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Amanda!

Fabulous advice. And wow, this is so very true. "My dream encompasses not only my writing, but the grace and gratitude to accept both obstacles and successes admirably."

I always keep telling myself that each attempt to accomplish something is never really a failure, because you never know what comes from the efforts. Today, I'm seeing amazing benefits from what I thought was a failure years ago. Even if all I did was learn a lesson, that lesson might be the thing that helps arrive at a huge accomplishment.

Thank you so much for sharing and congrats on your successes.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Thank you Sharon!!!

I'm thrilled at what I've accomplished and yet I know that I still have many trails to blaze yet.

Thanks so much for popping in.

CC

terrio said...

Another great blog. Can't wait to get my hands on this book and the next DD&D installment.

I was in the exact same boat. Bra in 3rd grade and it wasn't for training. By 6th grade I was more than tired of having that strap snapped. At 20 I had them reduced to C and somehow in the 17 yrs since, they've gone back to a DD. How does that happen?! (And I still weigh the same so that's not it, thank goodness.)

My daughter is 9 and developing at the same pace. The poor thing.

Like many,I always thought someday I'd write a book, but I didn't jump into the ring until 2006. Unfortunately, I went back to college that same year so I've only been able to "half-ass" the writing. The college degree was a major dream and at the end of June, I'll have it. Which means the half-ass writing ends and the full-ass writing begins July 1. (I think that sounded better in my head but you know what I mean.)

Thank you for all of your encouragement, your wonderful books, and how much you give to aspiring writers. You're one amazing lady.

Christie Craig said...

Ahh, Terrio,

We were in the same boat. I hope somehow you can encourage your daugther to accept herself and not be so embarrassed. Funny, how after feeling bad about those boobs, never changed, even when I was old enough to know that to many, they were a positive and not a negative.

And girl, I'm so proud of you going back to school. Balance is the key to happiness, and sometimes when we have a lot on our plate, you only have so much ass to give.

I have no doubt, that soon your full-ass approach is going to pay off.

Good luck girl. And thanks so much for popping in.

CC

Faye Hughes said...

Great blog, Christie. And very inspiring, too.

Faye

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you just quit when the dream isn't possible and you just don't have the energy anymore to pursue it.

Mel

Christie Craig said...

Faye,

Thanks girl. It always helps to have someone willing to give you a kick in the pants if you don't stay in track.

CC

Teri Thackston said...

Ah, high school tryouts. Do I remember those. Some worked out and some didn't -- but you're about about not quitting. That's the main thing. No one can stop a determined woman who keeps coming -- that's a paraphrase of something I heard once and it's so fitting for writers.

Christie Craig said...

Mel,

I know what you mean about letting go. I'm sure I really never would have made it on TV. But here's me hoping that you find a new dream that is reachable.

Thanks for posting.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Teri,

I think during those teen years, our hormones are raging and it makes us super sensitive to any type of criticism.

Thanks so much for stopping in.

CC

terrio said...

For the record, I have no hard feelings for the girls. I rather like them. LOL! We've been through a lot the three of us!

My kiddo doesn't seem to mind her early bloomers right now. I bought her her first A-cup bra last week and she made the observation that it makes them stand out. (We'd been sort of smooshing them for a while.) She didn't seem to care, but the figure this child has is giving me palpatations...on the inside. I've managed to stay calm and matter-of-fact on the outside. :)

Wendy Roberts said...

I was one of those c-cup seventh graders too lol! I feel your pain and your, um, bounce.

My dream is to have one of my books make one of the BIG LISTS. This week I'm half-assing it :/ Need to stop allowing the kidlets to suck up all my time.

Christie Craig said...

Terrio,

I agree, I've come to terms with my girls, too. LOL. Though, I would still love to give away a cup or two.

You daughter is sure to be fine with your as an example. Even if she does have a killer figure.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Wendy,

Oh that bounce was the killer! LOL.

And you keep at it and those will be fall into place.

Do remember though, when you're taking care of the kidlets you aren't half-assing it. Half-assing isn't taking care of our other priorities, school, children, or life, half-assing is not giving the dream its proper priority.

We can't beat ourselves up for our limitations. Comparing ourselves to others is a sure fire way to fail. To me, the definition of half-assing it is . . . not trying, is letting fear and insecurities stop us. It's letting lesser priorities get in the way. It's losing the focus on what is important.

Thanks for stopping in.

CC

PBW said...

What an inspiring post! It reminds me of how hard I worked to make cheerleader. I stank of Ben-Gay all the time, because I was so sore from falling on my butt, but I just kept right on.

Christie Craig said...

Thanks, Phyllis.

I never had the guts to tryout for cheerleader. I'll bet you made a great cheerleader.

CC

Tessa McDermid said...

Thanks for an inspiring post, Christie! Keeping up with my dreams has been a new and fun direction for me recently since I've made a career change. The writing has been a constant in my life since I was in elementary school and now I'm pairing that with another dream.

The one thing I've learned with both of my dreams is what I can control and what is a byproduct of what I do. I can write and keep sending things out - what happens after that is really out of my hands. So, I try to keep writing and submitting. The rest will happen when it's right.

And, yeah, some of this learning curve definitely came from the experiences I had in high school - where I was a new kid, tall, lanky, and not very athletic.

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Christie,

Looks like we suffered from opposite problems. Due to my---shall we call them 'shortcomings'---I was constantly teased for being skinny and ugly. As one of my sister's tormenters called it, 'the itty bitty titty committee.' Kids can be cruel, no matter what.

Your words are inspiring. I like the way you talk about pursuing your dreams, about finding your passion. Now to get over my hurdle, overcome my shortcomings, and pursue that passion!!

Julie

Christie Craig said...

Hi Tessa,

Those career changes can be an eye opening experience. I've been through several. And you really hit the nail on the head when you say you can only control the byproduct.

We can have huge dreams, but only so much is in our control. Keeping the pie in the sky goals, seperate from the "I can do this" goals is important.

And the lessons we learned as children and young adults stay with us. Unfortunately, even the bad lessons can hang on.

Thanks for stopping in.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Julie,

Oh, I so wanted to be a part of the itty bitty titty club!!!

All the girls who made the gymnastics team belonged to that club!!!

Yup, we had different issues, but isn't it funny that they each caused issues. LOL.

Thanks so much for posting. And here's to you dealing with those hurdles and making each and everyone of those dreams come true.


CC

vicariousrising said...

How did you know my pain as a wannabe ballerina?

I related to so much of this post. I think as I keep chugging along with my submission and query process, I will keep the phrase "booby-trapped" in my head, just to make me laugh and remind myself to keep moving. Get a good jog bra, if I must, but I will jump those hurdles.

Thank you so much, Christie!

~Judy

Christie Craig said...

Judy,

Thanks so much for stopping in. And those good sports bras can do wonders!!! LOL.

Go get 'em girl. Make those dreams come true.

CC