Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just make a mark...

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. 


  1. This is inspiring. I am going to write the first paragraph of my first novel right now!

  2. I love your thoughts on this! Great advice for anyone with a creative dream.