Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Talk Time: Follow that dream

Michelle Styles talks about what inspired her to follow her dream of publication and wonders what event inspired our people to follow their dreams.

I suspect everyone reading this has probably already seen the Susan Boyle clip. There is about her going out and defiantly being determined to succeed in her dream that strikes a chord.

The judges’ reactions before are the sort of reactions one often gets when one confides a dream. You? Do what? Or even the downright cynical – yeah right, snowball’s chance. But she proved them wrong and at least half of the pleasure of the clip is watching the judges’ reactions as she begins to sing and her wonderful voice soars above the crowd. It is all very inspiring. But what I want to talk about today is the why behind it.

Why did Susan Boyle chose to follow her dream now ? Why do people in general decide to stop talking about things and actually start doing? Most of the time, it is far easier to dream than to do. To do means you have to take a risk. You have to commit to that dream. YOu have to take a risk.

For Miss Boyle, it took a deathbed promise to her mother to give her enough courage to enter the contest. From what I can tell, had it not been for that, she would have continued in her life, dreaming a little bit and singing along to Elaine Page with her hairbrush. That was the moment of epiphany for her. She had to try or die.

For me, it was gall stones. For years I talked about writing novels but did little about it. Oh, I had submitted a couple of short stories, and had been involved with my high school and university’s newspapers. I had also started a few novels but had never gone beyond about chapter six. Then I became ill, and heard the footstep of mortality. It was now or never. So I became serious about it, and became determined to succeed. I started getting up early and writing. I made the time to write -- giving various other time wasters and concentrating. Rejections letters just made me more determined. I also confided in several friends. Some of whom were less supportive than others. You do not know what pleasure I had when a friend recently asked how my little writing project was going and I was able to answer – well, my tenth book for Mills & Boon is about to be published and I have been published in 8 different languages and I forget how many different countries so I’d say very well. The woman rapidly changed the subject.

Many other Mills & Boon authors know when their epiphany was – the exact moment they decided – yes, I am going to give it a go and I am not going to stop until I reach my dream. This is because no one is born an author. It is always a conscience decision to send your writing out into the world. And no one ever said that it was easy.

So whether you are published or not, what is your dream and why did you decide to go for it?
The clip at the bottom is from Les Mis, just in case anyone is tempted to let life kill your dreams.

Michelle Styles is very pleased that she followed her dream and became a Mills & Boon author. Her tenth book, Impoverished Miss Convenient Wife was out this month.


  1. Michelle, this is such a great topic. I love hearing what it was that made people decide to go for it.
    For me it was the effect of losing a family member, a gradual disillusionment with my career, struggling to make work fit around school pick-ups, and a chance meeting with Harlequin author Karina Bliss. She was so nice, so down-to-earth and so encouraging. I had been writing romance stories for 25 years but never considered submitting them for publication until Karina said to give it a go. Plus, I did not want to get to the end of my life and regret not ever at least trying to do what I've been wanting to do all my life.
    So I gave up my day job to write full-time. I'm not published yet, but I'm not giving up.

  2. Jackie --
    It is great to hear what has given you the determination to succeed.
    I am so glad that you decided to share.

  3. What a lovely post, Michelle.

    For me, it was realising that if I stayed in my ratrace job, I wouldn't see the kids grow up: they'd be in nursery and I'd be in a job I'd fallen out of love with.

    So when I was pregnant, DH and I agreed: if I could make a living as a freelance journo (I was realistic about not making a fortune overnight as a novelist!) then I'd be able to fit it round the baby and it would be fine.

    And it worked. Littlest says she's responsible for my M&B career because I wrote the first one at her hospital bedside, the Christmas when she was 7 weeks old, but that's a whole other story...!

  4. Writing is something I have always wanted to do. I have written on and off for years. I finally made the decision to really 'go for it' as a result of lots of different circumstances.

    I was divorced by the time my littlest was 3 months old, then a single foster carer of 2 (as well as 3 children of my own). I desperately needed something for me. So last May I decided only I could change my life and make my dreams come true.

    I'm a Leo so determined and stubborn (it doesn't matter how many times they tell me 'no') are my middle names!!

  5. Kate and Joanne -- Thank you so much for sharing.

    With Kate H's story, I know when I first heard it. I went wow and it gave me hope.

    JOanne -- determination is such a part of things. It is about taking control of your dreams and doing something to get there.

  6. Ahhh Michelle what a great topic. I watched that Susan Boyle clip on YouTube and loved it (eventhough I avoid reality shows like the plague), it sent goosebumps down my spine and made me laugh at the same time when she started to sing and Simon Cowell's jaw dropped!

    As for me, I have had two things I've loved doing pretty much my whole life, one's watching movies, and the other's reading romance novels.

    I made a living out of one by becoming a film reviewer but after ten years of that I was bored rigid (you have no idea how many crap movies you have to watch as a reviewer) so I decided to try and actually finish one of the many romance stories I'd started to write over the years. After two years I had a finished ms - but only because I spurred myself by joining the RNA's New Writer's Scheme. It took me another year to write the one that got published and I haven't look backed since.

    So when was the moment that I decided to really pursue my dream? I would pin it down to the moment when I had to sit through my fifteenth Jean-Claude Van Damme movie in as many days and wanted to run screaming from the room!!

  7. Heidi like you I aviod reality shows, particularly after one hellish train journey just when they first started and the couple in front of us discussed the ins and outs of what was happening (they were involved with the production team...or knew them or...) But I finally figured I had better and like you my jaw dropped.

    It is so wonderful that you have been able to puruse both dreams. And lol on deciding after seeing your 15 Jean Claude Van Damme movie. It was the right decision btw.

  8. Michelle knows my moment - I had PPD after my second child was born and was just getting my feet back under me when 9/11 happened. I was still not quite better, and feeling a little lost as I was home with the kids. My sister said I needed an outlet, and to "get off your a$$ and do it." Her exact words.

    I went back to Calgary, wrote my first ms and had it promptly rejected, but by that time I was hooked and knew what I wanted.

    And Michelle played a major part at getting me there. :-)

  9. Hi Michelle. Great blog - I would have loved to have seen that woman's face when you said you were on your 10th published book! Why oh why do (some) women turn their noses up at the books we love to read (and write)?!

    My moment came when on New Years Day 2007 my dh came in from a "long walk" with my stepson and plonked a laptop computer on my laps with the words - "Now you don't have any more excuses not to write your book!" Turns out they had sneaked to PC world and got me a (much wanted) laptop! To date I'm on my 3rd novel - unpub yet - but I live in hope! Take care. Caroline x

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  11. (sorry-- the deleted comment was me, signed in under daughter #1's name! Back as myself now...)

    Michelle, I loved reading this post, and everyone's replies. (Caroline, what a lovely family you have!) My moment came when Penny Jordan told me she believed I could succeed. I had only made the most tentative start at writing about half a chapter, but hearing her say that and having her put her faith in me was incredibly empowering. It also meant that I had no more excuses for not giving it a try, at least.

    I'll be forever grateful to her for that moment which changed my life! (sniff...)