Writing Wish List

by limebirdkate

Recently, I was helping my mother sort through her barn for an upcoming yard sale. I found an old book that I used to love reading. As I thumbed through the pages, something fluttered to the dusty floor. It was a bookmark that I had made a long time ago.

When I read what I wrote on the bookmark, my teen self leaped out in front of me, reminding me of what I once wanted:

I Wish

to be a novelist

my books will be made into movies

to marry Tom Cruise

to draw like a real Disney artist

to meet John Jakes

to live in the Caribbean

to own a horse

At the bottom I signed it, topped off with a little Mickey Mouse head, which had been my ‘insignia’.

Some of this is pretty funny. I had never been to the Caribbean before I wrote this, so I don’t know what propelled me to think I’d want to live there. I didn’t know how to ride a horse, but I desperately wanted one to live in our meadow. John Jakes is the author of North & South, and that book urged me to take writing more seriously and fueled my desire to write a historical novel. I remember that all things Disney had been my ‘support system’ whenever I felt crushed by life. I used to copy Disney cartoon images from video tapes and books and posters. I was pretty infatuated with Tom Cruise, which shouldn’t be too surprising. This bookmark was created sometime after his Top Gun fame.

What impresses me is that most of what I wished for when I was a teen is still desirable to me. But now that my interests have developed a bit beyond kissing a fighter pilot (but just a bit), I thought it would be fun to come up with a Writing Wish List, something to motivate me to take that one risk I otherwise might not. To remind me not to lean on the excuse that I don’t know how. To encourage me to fight one extra day for my writing. To be like that teen again, when I thought anything was within my reach.

I wish

to be a novelist

I’d write the one book that scares the hell out of me

to write a screenplay for Disney

to go on a writer’s retreat in the Caribbean

for strength and perseverance and joy

to be a better writer every day

to own a writing studio

to give back what I learn

I have more to add, but this is a pretty good start. What would you put on your Writing Wish List?

46 Comments to “Writing Wish List”

  1. Great post Kate! I love finding things like that, that we wrote when we were younger. I also used to sign EVERYTHING, used to really get on my mum’s nerves. Haha. I guess my Writing Wish List would include:

    I wish

    I would stop procrastinating and get back to work. (which is writing so I guess that counts?)

    The End. 😉

    • Hi Beth, I do have a box of things I kept from way back when, so I was really surprised that the bookmark hadn’t made it in there. Fate? Blessed timing? Absolutely!

      Haha, I love your wish. Yes, I think it counts!

  2. Nice post, Kate! I like how you translated your younger self’s desire to live in the Caribbean to a trip there to further your primary wish of being a novelist. And I love that the top wish stayed the same!

    The Mickey insignia is a nice little anecdote, too. This is off-topic, but I think many of us who grew up with Disney stuff were blind to the more, shall we say, controversial sides of the films and messages (I’m thinking of the brouhaha over Song of the South, here). Kids are able to see the world in a way that’s both encompassing and narrow, that many of us lose when we “grow up.” I mean, now, when I think of Tom Cruise, I think of Scientology and jumping up and down on a sofa, and a South Park episode. But, when I was a girl, I thought of him as simply “Maverick” (even though my own “Top Gun” choice would have been Chipper, a.k.a. Adrian Pasdar).

    I don’t know where I was going with that. Maybe that seeing the world through the eyes of our younger selves can give us not only a sense of nostalgia, but a fresher, more hopeful perspective on what we can still do.


    • Hey Mayumi,

      I figured the Caribbean must have meant something to me all those years ago, so I better keep it on the list. Still figuring out what to do about the horse though. Perhaps I could learn how to write side-saddle?!?

      True, the controversial side to the films is certainly something we become aware of as we get older. Luckily for me that never affected the way I ever saw people or cultures anyway, and always believed all people are equal.

      Family and friends like to embarrass me with my big crush on TC mainly because of his behavior as you point out. I’m not into him anymore. I have moved on. I’m sure Tom is sorry to hear it. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. What comes through before and after is your positive nature, Kate. “To give back what I learn, ” love that one. I wish you great success in all that you take on.

    Blessings – Maxi

    • Hi Maxi,

      thank you–being positive certainly takes some doing these days, but I feel like I move forward with positivity, even if I am taking baby steps. Thanks for commenting.

  4. I love discovering my writing from those innocent days of my youth. It transports me back there like nothing else can. Thanks for sharing such a personal part of your history.

    As for my writing wish list…I just accomplished a major milestone. I completed the first good draft of my memoir: 30 chapters, 307 pages. My list now includes having a savvy reader’s mind to edit it so that the next draft is ready for others to read it; to see it on bookshelves in actual book stores and on online (Amazon and the like); to write the next book.

  5. What a wonderful idea, and a fantastic list. I love how you kept the Caribbean in there but gave it added purpose, very clever. I really liked your second item, I think that was by far my favorite thing on the list.

    • Hi Neeks,

      I had a giggle at myself for keeping the Caribbean wish, because it is so frivolous and so not me. But it felt right. The second item is a biggie, and it probably is the real reason I’m here at all. Thanks for chiming in!

  6. This is a lovely post Kate. I really like it because it’s like a new take on the to-do list; kind of an aspirational to-do list and allows for the inclusion of fantasies as well as realistic objectives! Funnily enough it’s in a similar vein to something I was planning on writing about for my next Limebird post – I’ll probably still do it though because it’s different enough! I think my main writing wish is to have enough time, space and motivation to just get on with it – then I feel everything else will fall into place…

    • Hi Vanessa,

      Yes, I think the frivolous wishes or at least the ones that probably won’t ever happen, are still important to include. It keeps us young. 🙂

      Can’t wait to see your post. And I like your wish on ‘enough time’. That’s a great wish!

  7. An office. A soundproof office. With bookshelves. LOTS of desk space. And endless supply of notebooks, posty-notes, index cards, folders, files, pens, etc. A bunch of really good, free photos/images (but not generic ones). Somebody to organize things for me. Not that I’m being greedy 😉

    Nice post. I’ll go on the retreat.

    Another (unrelated) note. Something I’d been thinking about that came up in your piece. A vs an for words beginning with h.

    I was taught that an goes before vowel-sounds. So, an apple, an orange, an hour. But I’ve started seeing “an history” all over. So, do I have the rule wrong? Is history some exception I didn’t learn? Am I pronouncing it wrong (or is there a regional-type pronunciation that drops the h or something)? Sorry, I know this is off topic, but I’ve been meaning to ask somebody and you provided a chance.

    • Hi Shannon, I use the Chicago Manual of Style to settle these kinds of issues with my clients. Other writers/editors may use different style manuals. My CMS citations 5.73, 7.46, and 15.9 discuss the relative instances for “a vs. an.” According to CMS, you are correct in using “a history” because history starts with a consonant sound. In the case of abbreviations, how they are most commonly said aloud determines whether you use an “a or an.” For instance, “a MS” reads “a manuscript” or “an NBA coach” reads “an en-b-a coach.”

    • Hi Shannon,

      good one! I think an office that is soundproof is a wonderful wish! I do like how everything you mention is centered on place and opportunity, you’re very practical. Are you practical in everything else? Oh, right, you’re a statistician. 🙂 Practical is good, because there isn’t much hope for writing on tree bark these days.

      Yes, my bad with the ‘an’. That’s how I speak, actually, because I don’t pronounce the ‘h’ when I say historical. Don’t ask me why. Could be a regionalism? Maybe it makes up for the fact I DO pronounce my ‘Rs’ at the end of words, even though I’m a New England-uh…I mean New Englander. 🙂

      Anyway, I am aware of this and try to catch it in my writing but that one slipped by. Sorry!

      • Kate,

        I didn’t mean that as a gatcha. I’ve seen it in writing all over. News sites, books, etc. I thought maybe I was mistaken or there was a different pronunciation (like maybe in England they drop the h-sound).

        I’m not all that practical, really. I just thought, “well, if it’s a wish list, then anything goes.” I didn’t mention that I am addicted to notebooks (the real kind, not the computer kind) but hardly ever use them! 🙂

      • 🙂 I thought you asked a good question, no worries!

        Addicted to notebooks, eh? Yes, I have that problem with hardcover journals with fun covers. 🙂

  8. I absolutely love this!! 🙂

  9. I appreciated John Jakes when I was a teen, also. I thought, how sad that he doesn’t write for the text book companies! ha! Perhaps I’d have gotten a better grade in history that way. Jakes strengthened a life long appreciation for the mysteries of history.

    As for my writing wish list… well, I’d like to be able to devote more time to the craft, that is for certain! Top on the list would be to give up my day job!

    • Hi Eliza,

      Yay! Another John Jakes fan. Oh my gosh, what a good idea that would have been had he written text books. I think his strength were his amazing characters, they really brought history to life for me.

      Another vote for ‘time’. Yes, if we could get one day a week where all we were allowed to do was write, I think we’d be quite content. Thanks for chiming in.

  10. I know I made a list like that in college, but it’s long gone, I’m afraid. I do remember publishing a book was on it. At the time, I was probably thinking about an archaeological study…. Now, of course, that’s transformed into a novel (or two or three or….)

    Today for my writing I’d probably wish for more patience, more inspiration, and a better ability to move the story and characters forward—clearly and engagingly!

    • Hey JM,
      you make me laugh, how your book aspiration in college was probably about an archaeological study and not time travel! My, how we change, huh?

      Ooh, I like your wish for moving your story forward, that’s a great one that I probably ought to add to mine.

      Thanks for swinging by.

  11. Such wistful longing, Vanessa. A beautiful post. I can only recall wishing to be a writer and telling my parents that I wanted to be a dancer (because I thought they’d think dancing was a better option). Their response: can’t make a living as a dancer. So I became an engineer. Then I figured out that life was about doing what you love. I’m heading out on holiday at the end of this week, so I think I’ll consider your question while I’m gone. Thanks for bringing this topic to the surface!

    • Hi Jilanne,

      Isn’t it interesting how our parents come into play, in both positive and not-so-positive ways. Engineering is a huge world away from being a writer, tapping into a different part of the self. I’m glad that you decided to follow your heart instead, because that’s what life is really about. Thanks for swinging by.

  12. On my wish list? A huge chuck of time where I can tune out the world and finish editing my book!

    • Robin,

      Another nod for ‘time’. Seems like that might be the top wish so far. Tuning out the world might be possible if you’d stop cavorting with Paul McCartney 🙂

  13. To be part of a writing community. That’s why I love the web…

  14. Hmmmm… this seems the week for lists. All right, confining it to writing.

    Write fiction from a feminist and lgbtq perspective, where the characters live their lives, and don’t look foreign or exist as some curios to observe.

    At the same time, educate on issues important to both communities.

    Improve with each new sentence written.

    Finish the six novels already written in whole or part.

    Challenge myself where skill feels weak.

    Challenge myself where skill feels strong.

    Never commit the whole of my life story to word.

    • Hi Nelle,

      Great choices on your list. I really like how with your challenges, you’re ultimately saying you will constantly challenge yourself with your writing, no matter how it’s going. I think that’s wonderful. Thanks for commenting.

  15. Work for Disney is also on top of my list, or Pixar!

  16. If I were to find my teenage list It would be very similar. On the top would be to write a novel and then I marry Cary Grant. I was always into older men. The novel part is still there, still going strong.

    • Hi Introverted,

      Oooh, I used to LOVE Cary Grant, too! And I didn’t care that he was older, I simply thought he was dashing and debonair and all the right mix of mmmmm. 🙂 I’m glad to know novel writing is on your list!

  17. I’d love to get a story accepted 8). Somewhere.

  18. I think my writing wishlist would be:
    To publish something that I’m proud of
    To have someone be proud of me because of something that I’d written
    To write something that might help someone or just make them happy

    Of course, getting rich and famous and marrying a super hot celebrity wouldn’t hurt either. But I digress 🙂

    • Hi plaininsight,

      Great wishes. My favorite one of yours is your first, because I think that might be the foundation for everything else. Thanks for swinging by. 🙂

  19. Both awesome lists! Mine doesn’t look all that dissimilar actually. :-p

    • Hi Ileandra,
      Well, I’m glad that you have a wish list. We all need at least one, or one in every room, just to make sure we do it! Thanks for stopping by.

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