Long Time Dreaming: How Finally Writing My Book Gave Me Unexpected PurposeFeb 08, 2021
Please welcome my guest, Dwight E. Kobar, author of Who Else Can Love You?: Things to Tell Your Child, Inner or Outer. Dwight has blogged for us about making a long-time dream come true, and how he found unexpected purpose and fulfillment.
“Welcome, Dwight. How long have you been writing?”
“Well, if you include informal writing and journaling, about three decades.”
“Wow! Three decades? That’s impressive. So, how many books have you published?”
“Just one. A few months ago.”
“Just one? I’m curious. Why not more?”
“I’m not really sure. I mean, I’ve wanted to, mostly. I just . . . OH! Look! A squirrel! Did you see that thing? It was huge!”
Dwight pauses for awkward, silent seconds. “Sorry. Where were we?”
“Um, I think I got my answer. How about if we just focus on your published book?”
FOR SO LONG, my dream of becoming a published author lay dormant under stacks of filled notebooks, worn journals and 12-point font on computer paper.
Because I didn’t value my dream. Dreaming was for dreamers. I needed a job. I needed to do laundry. I wanted to ride my bike or watch a movie. In other words, everything was more important than just a dream I had.
I dreamed in secret. The dreams of writing were not only private, they were isolated. Life was about job changes and moving, marriage and divorce, kids and activities. My writing wasn’t a part of any of those things. Consequently, I didn’t think it was part of anything. I had largely felt unimportant for most of my life. My dreams, well, they were worth much less, even to me.
I wish I could insert, “Then one day I had the courage to change it all.” But I can’t say that and be honest at the same time. Maybe it was because I decided to join Toastmasters out of curiosity and stuck with it for a while. Maybe it was all those motivational quotes I’d heard over the years and learned to quote back to others once in a while. Maybe it was realizing I wasn’t going to die after filing bankruptcy or getting divorced.
I survived. I lived. I was loving life again. I started noticing others appreciating me. They gave me attention and loved my speeches in Toastmasters. I started a new club at work and spoke up more. I was earning respect and admiration.
Pretty soon a singular idea came into my head:
Quit making excuses and do it.
The Throwaway Project
My biggest excuse was not knowing the terrain. Where do I start? What do I write about? Or do I use material from my existing blog?
Finally, I decided on a “throwaway” project. I didn’t care what the content was, I just wanted to D.I.Y. and force myself through the publishing process.
But was it going to be traditional, self-publishing, or Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)? For each option, what were the steps? Could I do it all myself, or would I have to hire out services such as formatting, cover design, or editing? If so, where do I get reliable services and how much does it cost?
I had to eliminate being intimidated by this unknown publishing blob as an excuse for not pursuing publication. I decided on writing a children’s book, figuring that would be easy enough. I had a “talent” for being silly, so it would be a breeze. (Imagine that: silliness being a “talent.”)
I further decided the best route for doing it all myself would be Amazon’s KDP process. Besides, it seemed everyone was doing it, there were tons of free articles on the Internet and tutorials on YouTube, so it couldn’t be that hard.
Even then, I hesitated.
The Project Becomes a Mission
A spark of an idea came to me in the summer of 2019. I lightly tossed it around and drew it on paper. I got excited and added a few more rhyming stanzas and shared those with my friend. He said, “I love it, Dwight. That’s witty and a great way to build someone’s self-esteem.”
My “throwaway” project suddenly became a mission and things started to click. I had more excitement and fun with the idea. I experimented with more rhymes and zoo animals. I thought of asking my niece, who has creative artistic talent, to make illustrations of zoo animals and children for each stanza.
Gradually, I came to realize I might not be able to D.I.Y. I was getting stuck trying to come up with more lines of rhyme. I didn’t know how I was going to get my niece’s illustrations from paper to book pages.
It was then I decided to pay for some coaching. I decided to turn this throwaway project into a formal lesson—an opportunity to learn to use the services of others to make a decent book I could be proud of.
The Inner Shift
While writing the rest of the book, I made a shift from wanting to get something—getting published—to wanting to give something: powerful affirmations. For the first time, I started to feel that my true purpose was to benefit my target audience.
I had entertained that idea before, but this time it took root in my heart. My friend became my sounding board as I developed more content for my children’s book. He related to what I wrote in his core. That's how I realized my book was not actually aimed at young children. My compassion was for the wounded adult. The adult who was wounded in childhood, emotionally scarred, and is now on some leg of the journey of healing the trauma.
My target audience, as well as the source within me, was the inner child.
I was finally in love with my own inner child and watched in utter delight as he played and explored, instead of blaming him for what I had not achieved in life. It was suddenly worth all the decades of floundering in my life to watch him blossom.
The Kid on Christmas Morning
The process of getting published had way more details to it than I ever anticipated, and took a lot more time and effort than I imagined. But my mission was important, even crucial. I felt empowered by my own words and the process of manifesting my dream. I was ecstatic, elated, euphoric. I was so proud of myself, more than I could remember ever having been.
When the first shipment of books finally arrived (known as “author copies”), I recorded myself on video opening the box. I felt over-the-top excited—like a child on Christmas morning who found his name on the biggest present under the tree—and I let it show.
Author copies are intended for giving away in exchange for reviews and garnering more interest. What blew me away was this: as I gave these books away, I received wonderful feedback of heart-felt and loving appreciation.
At first, my skeptical side brushed the praise aside, figuring people were just being nice. But it kept coming. Eventually, I had no choice but to take it in. My heart swelled to twice its size.
The feedback often moved me to tears. I heard things such as:
“I never could have come up with such powerfully uplifting affirmations on my own.”
“This book is uniquely you.”
“I read this book at least once a day to raise me up.”
Discovering My Dream's Real Purpose
We hear a lot about finding our purpose and then living it. For me, it was the other way around. I had the capacity for my dream: it was in my heart to write a book. But it was only after I plunged in neck-deep and started living this dream that I discovered its real purpose.
And it’s definitely a “keeper,” not a “throwaway.”
DWIGHT E. KOBAR is the author of Who Else Can Love You? Things to Tell Your Child, Inner or Outer and is having a blast with it. He loves to seek out and gently grab opportunities to express his creativity and playfulness for all our children to enjoy. He smiles and plays in Greensboro, North Carolina, and loves to frolic in the ocean at Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Visit Dwight at his website: dwightekobar.com.