Soul-Speak and Sundaes: Saying YES to Writing Dreams

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”  — Oscar Wilde

Love Heart on the beach

Last spring I shared a post called Saying No — A Successful Writer’s Must. We can’t fulfill our creative goals if we say yes to everything/everyone 100% of the time, I asserted. If we do, we’re essentially saying no to our dreams. Today I want to talk about the flip-side: the importance of saying yes to not only our goals, but our hearts and instincts.

As some of you know, I provide nutritional therapy and mentorship to individuals with psychiatric conditions, namely eating disorders. I can often predict whether an individual is going to recover successfully by the way she talks about her goals and dreams outside of her illness. Consider the following examples:

Alexa: “I can’t think about anything else, and I don’t want to. Controlling my weight is all I know. It makes me happy, or at least the happiest I could be. I don’t have other interests. This is it.”

Jen: “All I know is I don’t want to feel like this. I can’t fucking take it anymore! Sure, I had dreams once. I used to paint and make jewelry. I was going to start my own line someday. [sarcastic laugh] I don’t even have friends anymore…”

Sandy: “I miss the piano. I’ve been playing a little again… [smile] I’m good at my job, but it doesn’t make me happy. Maybe it’s silly, but I feel like I could write songs. And maybe teach.”

You can probably guess that Sandy has the greatest odds of recovery. She has something beyond her illness to say yes to, and a genuine desire to do so. Jen can get there too. If she continues to explore her frustration, it can be the launchpad for positive change. Alexa has the toughest cards in her deck. Until she starts questioning her disease and believing in, or at least hoping for something brighter, she’ll likely remain stuck or worsen.

As artists, denying our hopes and dreams is like a disease. On the milder end, we suffer artistic “colds,” mere sniffles and congestion from too little artistic nurturing. In the worst cases, we stifle our dreams completely. I’m pretty sure this can land me in the hospital. (Arguably, it has.)

We are blessed to have passions and dreams. Saying no to influences that draw us away from them won’t do much good if we then fail to say YES! to our hearts’ desires.

I’ve been reminded of this recently. Since my book release, even amidst the euphoria, I sensed a sort of void—a nagging feeling in my gut. I thought I merely missed writing fuller-time, having taken on marketing and promotions, but there was something more. A book project has been knocking on my heart’s door, and though it wasn’t my intended next step, I have to pursue it. Sure, it makes my workload heftier, but at the risk of seeming melodramatic, it makes my soul lighter. I bounced out of bed at five this morning, eager to dive in. Upon making the decision, my mood turned sunnier, and the body aches I barely recognized have vanished. It’s a lot like falling in love.

When our soul speaks, we best listen. I’ve learned this repeatedly. I see it in my own life, and in the lives of inspiring individuals facing seemingly unbeatable odds. I’m giddy each time I meet a “Sandy,” for I already sense the wonder she’s going to experience and carry out into the world. Authentic, passionate people make the world a better place. As artists we have significant opportunities to be them.

Yes, I’m an ooey-gooey pile o’ mush today—totally fine by me. As author and activist Geneen Roth wrote in Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Just About Anything, “We don’t want to EAT hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes.” There’s nothing wrong with savoring decadent treats, but sometimes our longings run much deeper. The real sweets derive from being true to ourselves.

I hope that whatever dreams your heart holds, you’re going for them. I’d love to hear the ooey-gooey details. What goals are you stoked about? Have you ever felt slightly lost, then found? Do your instincts speak louder than words? I ♥ hearing from you.

Leave a comment


  1. Marc Schuster

     /  February 28, 2013

    Funny you should mention all of this… Fellow blogger H. Conrad Miller dropped me a line last night asking if I’d write a guest post for his blog, A Side of Writing. Though I initially started to write a fairly traditional essay on the craft of writing, I couldn’t shake the feeling that going a little more poetic and esoteric would be more satisfying. So I went with my instinct and wrote a piece called “What We Do” that attempts, in 500 words or less, to explain why writers write. It wasn’t my usual style, but writing it felt good, and it gave me a chance to think about a lot why I write. Better yet, it gave me a chance to share my thoughts with Conr’ and his readers… The piece will go up on March 12!

    • Timely indeed! I’m happy to hear that you went with your gut, and can’t wait to read the piece. Writing that feels good, I find, is often the best. And yours always rocks. 🙂

  2. Between your post and Kristen’s, I feel as though the universe has hugged me and pushed me with gentle authority in the direction I know I’m supposed to be heading.
    I’m striving for my dreams in a stream of energy that is running in two directions simultaneously. One side is running against me, slowing me down (“There’s a job fair. Looks like there’re some administrative jobs.” “Full-time executive assistant position in —.” “Wouldn’t you love to have a 9-to-5 job with benefits? You’d be safe and secure!” “You really think you can make a living as a writer and a Reiki practitioner/teacher? Is that realistic?”), and the other is whisking me up on a fun inflatable for an exhilarating ride down the river of my dreams (“Keep writing!” “You can do this!” “I’ve recommended you to my friend. She’s in a lot of pain.” “I feel so much better since that session. I’ve slept better the past couple nights than I have in the past couple years.”).
    Goals: Keep writing. Grow my Reiki practice. Continue on the path of being the healthiest me I can be. Help others on their paths.
    My instincts do speak to me, and oftentimes so loudly I find myself looking around to see who just yelled at me. 😀
    Blessings to you, August. I’m so glad for your ooey-gooey pile o’ mush state. 🙂

    • What beautiful things to hear, Ellen. I’m touched that my post added to that hug. And your hollering instincts sound pretty dang brilliant. 🙂

      It’s not always easy to sort out the shoulds/shouldn’ts, and “balance” can seem continually elusive. All of that said, I don’t believe our hearts are ever wrong, or that our instincts lie. Seems to me that you’re on a wonderful track. Good luck!

  3. Talk about synchronicity, August! I intended to send an off-loop email on this very topic to you this morning. Now, I can be legit and write about it on you blog.

    Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way and your own GB series opened doors I hadn’t previously explored for my writing. And (major side benefit!), for myself. YKWIM. 😉

    I just returned from a trip to California, where I revisited Bayside Marin, the wonderful facility that helped me find serenity in sobriety 5 years ago. It was a free tune-up visit. I had many things niggling in my life and I wanted to reconnect with that protected bubble, including my therapist there.

    While there, I had an epiphany during a meeting. A guest speaker at this we-prefer-to-remain-anonymous meeting (that I almost talked myself out of attending), announced early in her presentation that she’d received notice that her contract as an art teacher would not be renewed. She said it was a blessing because The Artist’s Way pushed her to get her art degree years earlier, and she now felt ready to pursue art rather than teach art.

    Here’s the kicker. At the meeting, she said she planned to take some old advice: Build your life around who you are, and not who people expect you to be. During comments, someone added, “you shouldn’t have to escape your life to be happy.”

    I’ve already embraced that writing steam/erotica is not a bad thing; that good girls won’t be condemned to hell. My writing has become an adventure again.

    My bigger dilemma was where I would do all my writing. I have a home base here in Texas with many connections I cherish. How could I balance that with my need for free-to-be-me; to spend time writing in northern climes, my taproot in PA, ocean vistas, mountain locations, wherever my fancy took me?

    The solution now seems too easy, but it’s right there. When our house sells — which it will fairly quickly — my new home base in Texas will be a smaller house with no mortgage, shared with a male roommate (husband in the legal sense only).

    Free-to-be-me? Think Minnie Winnie Motor Home with a T-bar to tote a Jeep around the country. I’m already looking on the net for one that will fit my needs, and I plan to do some redecorating and upgrades to the interior to make it my own home and writing retreat.

    No more running away from my life to be happy. SWEET!

    • I have chills. I am so proud of and exhilarated for you, Gloria! Bless you and your epiphanies. It takes a willing, open and courageous heart to embrace them. I’ve no doubt that your next turns will be successful ones. 🙂

      Cameron is an angel, isn’t she? “The Artist’s Way” helped me through barriers a while back too–some of the best shifts I’ve ever made.

      Best of luck in your journey, beauty. Please keep me posted!

    • I loved reading this, Gloria. My heart is soaring for you! Go you!!

      • We have so much in common, August and Ginger.

        My heart is soaring for me, too!

        Erm. Ginger. I may have to step our of the Loo for 10 squats per potty break, but I’ll get ’em done. I need to rock my jeans if I plan to hit some CW dance spots.

        August? Minnie will travel to Southern California.

        Thanks to both of you for your yee-haws!

      • I can’t wait! You know my stage door is always open to the Amish Erotics. 😉 10,000 cheers for soaring hearts!

  4. Gloria, you rock. I love your plan!

    I’m going to make a sticky note with this quote: “Build your life around who you are, and not who people expect you to be.” Love, love, love that.

    Only in the past few years have I learned to successfully say no to what will drag me down and yes to my dreams and desires. It’s something I wish I’d done a long time ago, but am embracing fully now. I’ve pissed off a few people who expected me to say yes, but that’s okay. I’ve written three books because of those no’s with many more to come. That makes my heart smile.

    • Tameri, your comment made my heart smile.

      Isn’t that saying empowering? I began a list of WHO I AM (in no particular order, because that’s Who I Am *grin*) shortly after than meeting.

      We meet so often in comments, I had to bop over to follow your blog. BONUS! I have three new books for my TBR stack.

      Once you understand I’m not much of a stalker, I plan to pester you for your general location. Winnie and I may want to park at a lovely campsite near you one day.

      Please begin research for CW dance spots. I can learn my line-dances in Minnie, but it will be difficult to perfect them without a big ole’ dance floor for my rocking hot Corral boots.

      Um. Cowboys in tight jeans and starched shirts? Desired, but not required. 😉 Some available dudes who know how to lead a good two-step? A must!

      • On the CW dancing and partners? Research. Totally research, so I can write, write, write when I get back to Minnie.

        Honest! Depends on Who I Am that day…

      • YES! Oh my stars you have to come out and visit with Minnie! We’re on the west coast, north of San Diego. You can camp right on the beach with Minnie and of course, we have loads of CW dance places. I’ve even been to a few of them, in my punk rock days. Long story.

        So glad you checked out the blog and found some cool books.

        How close are you to Dallas? I’ll be there May 3, 4, & 5th for a conference (Hurst Center, I believe). If you’re near, let’s meet up!

        You need to write a cowboy book with some smexy scenes. Those are super hot right now. And of course, all that dancing will ONLY be for research. I’m all about research!

      • I am less than 45 minutes from Hurst, and I suspect you plan to be there for DFWCon. We will meet then, if not before.

        You’re close to one of my destinations — a meet up one day with August and the other Amish Erotics.

  5. I’m working my way out of that slightly-lost stage at the moment myself. I just released a book at the beginning of the month, and while I didn’t do any major release events, it still takes a bit of doing to switch gears to another project. I have several swirling around my head, but none with enough critical mass for me to write them yet. This week, I stopped trying to force one while I focus on physical health and relaxation, and am taking a workshop where I’m learning to make writing fun again!

    • Good for you, Jennette! We’ve got to trust the process and know that we won’t go full force 100% of the time, right? I think having fun creatively can be some of the most helpful “work” (play :)) we do. Good luck!

  6. My dreams are in the midst of occurring. Well, at least, some of them. Who would have thought that a year ago I would be so much wanting to be published and now my concern is getting paid? Or that I have four more stories that have been purchased, one due out Monday? My health is better and I am so much happier. I still have dreams: I still wish my eyesight to improve, my pain to lessen, and that multimillionaire status is right there in my head.

  7. mgmillerbooks

     /  February 28, 2013

    I just want success for all my writer friends. As for my own goals, I guess I’d better get some. Lol. What on earth are you taking a detour to write about?

  8. Awesome post, August. We must have been on the same wave-length this week. 🙂 Love the inspiration — Thanks!!

  9. Great post and it rings true. I had been a writer when was younger (in my 20s). Why I turned away from writing for about 13 years is a long story that I try not to think about too often. All I know is I burned a lot of time that I could have used there.

    But now that I’m looking at myself and realizing that I can be still pursue my writing the passion for story telling (That’s how I see my writing) is roaring back and for the first time in a long time, I feel balance coming back.

  10. I LOVE this line August: Authentic, passionate people make the world a better place. Good luck with your project!

  11. OneHotMess

     /  February 28, 2013

    Oh, August, thank you so much for this post! I am a writer. Everything else I do is denying myself. I have been denying myself for too long out of fear of one person. I must stop that! Again, thank you!

  12. Julie Catherine

     /  February 28, 2013

    August, this wonderful post is timely for me, too. So many health issues make it difficult to write many days, but I will never ever give up on my dreams – no matter what. I published my first poetry book last year, and have a second one in the works this year. I managed to attend a 3-day online writers’ conference this year, something I never thought I’d be able to do because of lack of mobility and finances. As a result, I’m concentrating on a contemporary romance novel that’s been on the back burner for years – and putting away a mid-grade novel that I’m really stuck with until a later time when I have more energy to deal with it. I’ve just come home from the hospital for the second time in a week with heart issues, so will take a few days to relax and recover, but the desire to get back to my writing is beating strongly. I know it’s going to happen, even if it takes longer than I’d hoped. Thanks so much for the inspiration and encouragement! ~ Julie

    • You are an inspiration, Julie. Your attitude and perseverance will no doubt take you far. Wishing you joy, health and endless creative fulfillment. Please stay in touch!

  13. “The real sweets derive from being true to ourselves.” – Oh yes, August. Shout it out, girl! You know, after reading all the comments, I started wondering if we are all feeling the lovely lingering effects of your fabulous BOAW blogfest. Hopes and dreams are essential to a happy life and no matter where we are in our journey we mustn’t lose sight of that. Onward!

    • What a warming thought, Patricia! I know for a fact that I’ve been savoring the inspiration. May the residual effects carry on and on and on. 🙂

  14. Good on you! Gooey, hot fudge sundae and all!
    I too wake early and jump on my computer. It is a lot to balance between keeping up a blog, reciprocating and reading others’ and then rewriting the remaining chapters of my first book so it can finally go out to beta readers.
    My problem isn’t saying no, its taking a break, but writing has become my passion and I am so energized!
    Someone asked me yesterday what I will do when it is out being edited, and I said, “Outline the next in the series and then write a completely different book that I almost chose as my first. Once I finish that…. well you get the picture. I don’t think I can stop writing now that I have started.
    As far as your patients, in my very humble opinion, its the one’s with hope for a better future that will invite change. Am I right?

  15. Since I’m coming behind you in the comments Susie, I’d say you’re right!

    August, great post! I cannot wait to meet you! I’m am looking at our meet up as one big shot in the arm. I’m in recovery from the last two years of non-stop stress and to be honest it’s damaged my creativity. My battery is wound way down girl. My body and brain is on re-charge. So yes, I feel a bit lost and found. But I’m making slow baby steps forward. Hey, if you fall off the horse, you’ve got to get back on. I’ll be riding again! 🙂

  16. Love that quote by Roth (always enjoy her books). Right now I’m psyched (and scared) to launch my first book. Even though it’s scary, for me it’s the next step that makes my “soul lighter.” 🙂 All the best with your new project, August!!

    • Isn’t she great? You are too, and I’ve no doubt your debut will be a success. Best wishes, lady! Can’t wait to support you/it along the way. 🙂

  17. Raani York

     /  March 4, 2013

    Sometimes it is hard to keep focus onto the road that leads me to the goal – the next big dream I have to be fulfilled. There’s always so much “else” to do that as well seem to be important… HAHA… you wrote about it August, you know how it is.
    But I do keep track. There’s a reason for things happening. And sometimes I realized it’s better for me to follow the path where it leads me, rather than using my stubborn head to break through the wall…
    If there’s one door closing another one will open… I’m sometimes too impatient to wait for that other door…
    But I do keep my dream and goal in my mind – because “If we give up our dreams, we’ll die.”

  18. Kourtney Heintz

     /  March 6, 2013

    Definitely experienced the lost feeling. Sometimes it takes months to realize what’s off. Sometimes nothing changed externally but too much changed internally. I wasn’t the same me who wanted that life a year ago. It’s hard to change and break away from the familiar, but sometimes that’s the only way to live the life you dream of. 🙂

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