Sometimes, you just don’t know where inspiration comes from, and then you still might not know how it will inspire you … or for that matter when you need that inspiration. Recently, a box in a dream woke me up. It wasn’t a real box, just one in a dream; and I had that dream well over 10 years ago. Yet it was what I needed when I needed it.
For lack of a better term, 2018 has been a tough year. Sparing you the details, it hasn’t been necessarily bad, it just hasn’t been easy. One way that made things tough was I started exploring new ways to do the hobbies I love. Namely judging bands, and writing. Y’all know about this writing hobby of mine … I mean, if you are reading these words you are seeing the result of this hobby. If you have been following my blog for a while, you may know I judge marching band competitions in the fall. Well, in part because California’s higher cost of living is driving more of my future planning, I explored ways to further those activities with intent of turning them into profit centers.
For judging, that meant exploring a winter circuit. This time of year, color guards and drum lines take the activity indoors … and it’s huge. It’s a huge shift for me as well, but if I can break into that activity, I will help not only my skills during the fall when I typically judge but can help pay the bills in the winter. If this sounds too objective … to analytic … too direct … well, yeah, that was kinda the problem I was having. Even with the writing side, I was looking at these changes to my hobbies a direct sense of purpose. For one, I joined a critique group to share my writing with so I can develop it and possible make some of the items I write publishable. But to be honest, I struggled putting things together because – in no small part – there was nothing inspirational about exposing your work to someone else’s critical eye.
That’s when I found an old friend.
I was digging through some of my old files and came across a short story I first wrote back in the early 2000s. It’s a story about a box. If that sounds boring and plain to you, well, that was kinda the point. I finished my first draft of the story on the same day (and same morning) I started it – heck, I finished it just in time to meet someone for breakfast that day. Since then, I have revised the heck out of it – tearing it apart, pulling it back together, deleting and adding and changing. In fact, a friend once gave me my first professional critique on that story. But around 6 years ago it fell into a pit of forgotten meaningless words until I found it again.
The story is about a box. I was inspired to write it after a dream I had about a hand made wooden box, somewhere between a jewelry box and a miniature safe. The dream I had incorporated some personal feelings I was fighting to let go of at the time, but the box became a symbol for more than that. I woke from the dream, and started writing. I remember a couple of the changes specifically happened when I came to grips with what my dream was telling me to do. I remember changes coming when I had to wake up to some real truths about my life. The premise, and the box, remained throughout.
The thing is, the story ended up hitting the nail on the head of my mood these last few weeks. If follows a guy trying to make some meaning in his life after a few decisions he made didn’t end out to plan – though probably not as dramatic as it sounds. The point of the whole story, where it all came back to, is that sometimes you do things not because you have to, but because you love to do it. It’s something you have a passion for. The box in this story was a symbol of that, and was a symbol of remembering that passion.
As I mentioned before, I joined a writers critique group a few months ago. Tonight, I am attending my first not as someone evaluating other’s works presented to us but, but as a presenter. I am presenting this story of the box. A month ago, I was dreading this night – in part questioning if I had the skill set to match up with the other writers, but mostly because my analytical mind fought the whole concept of writing. Yet I am excited now – not to just to get feedback on my work, but to just see if people see the passion I put into this story, my personal box. Just like I am excited following my first trial judging performance in winter guard last weekend. Just like I am excited to see what the rest of 2018 will be.
Yes, it’s been a tough 2018. But that doesn’t have to stop me from hoping for what is to come.