One of my daughter's favorite books is "The Dot" by Peter H. Reynolds. My wife and I read this to her at least once a week and it’s usually upon her request. That is a pleasure to us both, because this book is so much more than a children’s story.
The book urges the reader to “make a mark and see where it takes you.” Maybe that message isn’t clear to a 2 year old, but it certainly resonated with me. As a child, I was a big-time day-dreamer. I wanted to be a guitar-playing baseball all-star who fought fires in outer space during the off-season (I didn’t grasp the implausibility of that until much later). When I was a little older, in high school, I wanted to be the President. Then in college, I was going to be screenwriter and maybe even an actor. With all of those dreams, I did little to turn them into a reality.
Most kids have lofty aspirations for their future, so it isn’t surprising that 10-year-old me didn’t begin NASA training. I also did nothing to improve my baseball skills other than attending the requisite little league practices and games. I had a pitch-back and family members that I could have asked for help with batting and fielding, but I didn’t employ them. I didn’t buy a guitar until I was 24.
High school me wanted to be President because I was on the Student Council and liked organizing community events and being part of the leadership team. Beyond that, I did little to expand my ability to debate, speak publicly or network with others. Those are all essential for a successful career in politics. I went to college with that dream, but other than taking a few poli-sci courses, I did nothing additional.
College and post-college me really wanted to work in TV. I even moved to California and had an internship at a talent management company. I read a ton of screenplays and even wrote one. But I never did the hard part and that was get the script out to people. I was in the nexus of Hollywood entertainment, yet I was too afraid to share my work.
In the years since, I have held onto that dream of being a writer – to craft a story and transport it from my mind onto paper. It’s not a coincidence that I started re-applying myself in early 2012, when we started regularly reading “The Dot” to my daughter. I decided to make another mark. I began outlining a story about a boy and his surreal existence. Every day I would make sure I did something to progress that mark a little further. Where did it take me? I handed over a finished draft of my first novel to an editor in December of 2012, which I later published in January. I illustrated two children’s books. Then I wrote two more shorter stories which are building up to a second novel.
Every grand work of art, music or piece of writing has to begin somewhere. Don’t be afraid to make a mark and let it bring you places. If you do something every day to make your vision develop, imagine what it will look like in 365 days.