The Dream of a Lifetime
Until a couple old friends sent me congratulatory notes via LinkedIn, I didn’t even realize January marked my 36th “anniversary” in business.
As I told them, the date wasn’t as auspicious as LinkedIn’s nod made it seem; January just happened to be when I set up shop in our spare bedroom as a combination PR consultant and freelancer.
I began by using the manual portable typewriter I had bought on graduating from high school. I had no clients, no line of credit, and no idea how I would survive.
For more than a year, I also had no computer, since personal PCs were still in their early stages of development.
Indeed, I would have done better that first year slinging burgers at McDonald’s.
Yet somehow—chiefly through prayer and God’s encouragement to keep going—I survived.
I still remember the line I heard several times while trying to get my feet on the ground: “You have to give it a year.”
Well, more like three years. And what do you do after nearly five years, when the whole endeavor nearly collapses in the aftermath of the 1987 stock market crash?
The short answer: I wound up driving a delivery truck part-time for 18 months. I simply needed some more money coming in to augment my meager earnings.
Those struggles went on for years.
I’ll never forget a Wednesday evening several years after that delivery job ended. We opened the refrigerator and saw nothing. Not even a piece of baloney to make a sandwich.
“What are we going to do?” my wife asked.
“I guess we’ll go to church,” I replied.
Afterwards, the pastor walked up and said, “Would you like to come down to the house for sandwiches?”
Did we ever!
The next day, a long-awaited check arrived and we were able to go the grocery store.
Soon after relocating to Louisville, an infamous 16-inch snowstorm blanketed the city on Martin Luther King Day. Nothing much moved all week.
The primary job on my meagerly-loaded plate was producing a quarterly newsletter, for which an associate in Colorado “overnighted” the copy.
With UPS stuck like everyone else, it took six days to arrive.
Frustrated and seeking some steady income, I inquired about a job in a news service office. At the interview, I offered the worst opening line possible: “I’m not sure this is what God wants me to do.”
He didn’t, which I realized soon after the interview. Meanwhile, the interviewer never got in touch with me to let me know about his decision.
That didn’t matter, though. Soon after, I received an assignment from a magazine that I had spent more than two years trying to pitch articles to, with little success.
Once I turned it in, the editor liked the story so much he offered me a position on staff. I declined, saying we had just moved and I couldn’t move again.
Hanging in There
Right after that assignment, I attended a major Christian writers conference for the first time. There I pitched a book I had been working on for more than two years with no success.
Three of the four editors I discussed with indicated a willingness to look at a full proposal.
One said it wouldn’t work for them. On the verge of the second offering a contract, the third called to ask if it was still available. Unfortunately, he didn’t want to enter a bidding war.
There have been other triumphs, mixed with considerable pain, frustration, and fears while living out my dream. It all sounds easy in a quick retelling, but there’s a reason I have so much gray hair.
Dreams may indeed come true, but that doesn’t mean they live on Easy Street.