I run a computer business.
Wait, what does that even mean? Hell if I know, but it’s what I tell people when they ask me what I do, because it’s the easiest way for people to nod and move on. It’s like saying you’re in sales, or imports/export. It really tells you nothing, but it’s an easy way to assess that what you do is as boring as it gets, so lets move on to more fascinating topics like, say, the cooling rate of bean dip.
If you’re unlucky, I might go into a bit more depth. I might go on to say that we do repair and service on Apple products, that I’ve moved into a primarily consulting role for individuals, businesses, and organizations. And that’s where the conversation more or less stops, because I’d hate to make someone pass out in the middle of the day and drool on themselves.
Fifteen or so years ago, when I started this particular enterprise, there was typically another question. The question was: how does a young person happen to end up in this position, that of a self employed computer fixit person? I must love it very much, after all, to have taken this on. No doubt killer at math, right?
Well, no, I would answer, I suck at math, and I think it’s the devil. I do really like this, but I primarily see it as a way of funding my real passion – writing.
What kind of writing, they would ask. Well, anything, really, which is writer code for ‘FANTASY AND SCI FI AND THINGS THAT GO BOOM AND AHH BUT I WANT YOU TO THINK MAYBE I’M LIKE HEMINGWAY.’
And it was all true. I loved being self employed, I was incredibly passionate about technology and its impact on regular human beings. But I loved writing even more, and I wrote a lot. I would say reams and reams, but perhaps kilobytes and kilobytes is a more apropos descriptor. And everyone knew that I, Michael Miller, was a wannabe writer and small (emphasis on small) business owner.
Fast forward fifteen years, and whenever I tell someone I’ve written a book they raise their eyebrows and go “You? You’re a writer?”
It’s a bit of a moment – what kind, I’m not sure – when you realize someone has no idea about what you truly love to do.
You learn over time – and if you’re me, you learn anything slowly and painfully – that it doesn’t matter much what people do or do not know about you. So it never worried me all that much when, increasingly, people identified me more and more as the ‘mac guy’ than anything else. But it is possible that people perceive you the way they do because of you’re own priorities, and the truth is that over the years it had indeed switched – I had a tiger by the tail that was called the business, and it was consuming everything outside of eating and sleeping. My long suffering fiancee, Margaret, and a few of my older friends knew that I loved to write, but no one else did.
It’s a story for another time, but we started to institute some major changes to our lives, and part of it was specifically so that I could start having time to write. And then my good friend Adri, of Wordless fame (buy it today) bizarrely took the choice to suggest we write a book together.
Never one to not abuse a friendship, I snapped at the opportunity like a piranha. I decided that out of eating and sleeping I could do without sleeping. For the better part of two months I worked during the day and worked on our space opera during the nights. Margaret patiently put up with an absentee partner during these times, clients politely omitted the fact that I burbled absolute nonsense on the phone, and Adri somehow made sense of sentence structure that I’m pretty sure a monkey could have vomited. Miraculously, a story was born. It’s a space opera, and I love it.
Now, also miraculously, the inimitable Kirsten Carlton of the Waxman Leavell agency offered us representation. I’m echoing other authors she’s representing when I say she has a keen sense of what makes a story work, obviously immediately understanding the story we were trying to tell. We could not be happier.
So, the point of all this isn’t just to dance and say Huzzah! Look at us! Congratulate us! Like us on the Facebooks! Tweet us on the Twitters! Get ready to buy our book! (although, by all means, do all those things). The point isn’t, either, to not give up on your dreams, because if you haven’t grasped that lesson by this point, I doubt I’m the one to teach it to you.
The point is that the only person who can make time for your dreams is yourself, and often times ‘making time’ isn’t finding more time, it’s simply about deciding something else isn’t quite as important. Maybe life can be a little more stressful, maybe you’ll sleep a little less, maybe it’s something else. But you actually can make that choice, and you can get back on the dream train in a startlingly short amount of time once you start making those choices.
The final point to this is that the choice may not be ‘I’m doing this now’, because this isn’t exactly what happened with me. Oftentimes, it’s about keeping an eye out and recognizing an opportunity. I was still trudging away at all my various stories when Adri brought the idea up, and while the timing was pretty craptastic, there was no way in hell I was going to say no. And what we ended up with is a something that’s eluded me all these years. There are many more dreams to come, but right now just having the complete story existing in the world is a complete one.
So, perhaps the lesson is just remember to say yes, even if it’s inconvenient. Opportunity isn’t convenient. Dreams aren’t convenient.
But they sure are fun.