Recently, my son and I went on a mini road-trip adventure in America.
My son is football-mad (soccer-mad for US readers) and has been following the fortunes of an American team called Sporting Kansas City for several years.
Sporting Kansas City are known for having some of the most devout fans in all of America and their ‘Cauldron’ stand is legendary.
So while we were in the States we got on a bus to Kansas and went along to a game.
The Cauldron was everything the YouTube videos had promised it would be. The atmosphere was electric and the sound of the crowd deafening.
Several guys had stationed themselves at the front of the terrace, next to the pitch but facing the fans.
One pounded on a bass drum and one played a trombone. One was covered in tattoos and led the chanting and another wore a huge white feather headdress and danced around.
They proceeded to whip us all into a frenzy, like some very alternative cheerleaders.
It was hugely entertaining hearing British football songs with an American twist. ‘Vindaloo’ became ‘Barbecue’ and the opposition fans (from Philadelphia) were treated to a rousing chorus of, ‘You can stick your Philly cheesesteaks up your arse!’
And whaddya know, as soon as we took our places on the stand – expecting to meet local Kansans – we got talking to a guy from Essex!
He’d been living in the States for a few years and was with a group of friends who supported SKC.
Much banter and hilarity ensued as the beer and margaritas flowed and the songs got louder and louder.
At one point my son suggested to Essex Guy that he should start a chorus of, ‘You dirty Northern b*****ds,’ a song which routinely gets chanted in UK football stadiums (with Northern substituted for Southern depending on the geography).
Essex Guy immediately agreed and began to chant.
He chanted and chanted … but no-one else joined in.
What had seemed like a great idea started to become a little embarrassing.
But Essex Guy was undeterred.
‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘I’ll have a word with the guys at the front and get them to start it.’
Off he disappeared into the crowd, heading for the alternative cheerleaders.
We waited and waited but the chant never came.
Some twenty minutes later Essex Guy reappeared holding a huge plastic recycling container.
‘I couldn’t get them to sing it,’ he told us, ‘but don’t worry, I’ve got this.’
He then turned the plastic container upside down and began hollering into it like it was a megaphone.
‘YOU DIRTY NORTHERN B*****DS!’
It was hilarious … but still no-one joined in.
And then a security guard appeared and demanded he give the recycling container back.
‘No way! You’ll never stop me!’ Essex Guy cried before disappearing off into the crowd again, with one last defiant chant.
This memory from my holiday popped into my mind recently when I was thinking about the dreams we have that don’t come true.
Although it’s a comical example, I think it makes for a great analogy.
You have a dream – in this case to share a funny football chant.
You get all excited imagining your dream coming true – in this case, an entire football stand singing your chant and being hugely entertained.
You pluck up the courage to take action – in this case, starting the singing on your own.
And then it all goes wrong – in this case, no-one joins in.
What seemed like a good idea starts becoming a little awkward and embarrassing.
Maybe you hang on in there and try a different approach – like using a recycling container as a megaphone.
But even taking a bolder step doesn’t work – the dream still doesn’t get realised, people still don’t join in.
It can be enough to make you want to curl up in a corner and never have a dream again.
I’ve felt like this at various points in my writing career.
I’ve had a dream about writing a book that will become a best-seller and inspire hundreds of thousands of people with its message.
So I’ve written the book and it’s been published – but then it doesn’t sell many copies.
Or it doesn’t sell enough copies to be deemed a commercial success.
This is the reality for most authors.
Last year I was advised that unless I got a celebrity to endorse my novel, The Moonlight Dreamers, UK retailers wouldn’t stock it in bulk, if at all.
I didn’t get a celebrity to endorse it and so the retailers didn’t stock it in bulk.
I’ve had exactly the same thing with its sequel, Tell it to the Moon.
Despite the fact that the books have got great reviews it’s not enough for most retailers in the UK to really get behind them.
It can be so crushing to invest so much hope and time and effort into a dream, only to be met with disappointment and frustration when it doesn’t come true.
There have been several times over the past few years when I’ve thought about giving up on my writing dream for good. Particularly after the whole ‘celebrity endorsement’ rigmarole.
But I won’t.
Because I’d rather keep believing and keep trying and keep daring to dream than give up and do f*** all with my life.
And anyway, writing is my passion. Always has been, always will be.
While I was writing this blog post I got the following comment from someone on Instagram:
‘Your book Moonlight Dreamers changed my life and made me feel like I can do anything I put my mind to.’
Reading it brought tears to my eyes and re-inspired me.
So what if UK retailers won’t stock my book in bulk because I haven’t got a celebrity endorsement?
Something I’ve written has made a total stranger feel like she can do anything she puts her mind to … and who knows where that might lead.
Which brings me back to my Essex Guy analogy.
OK, so his chant didn’t sweep across the stadium, causing much hilarity to thousands of fans.
But it did cause much hilarity to me and my son – and hopefully you reading this too.
It did provide us with a holiday highlight we’ll never forget.
I’ll also never forget his irrepressible humour and spirit.
That’s how I want to be in life – taking chances, working hard to make things happen (on my own merit), never giving up no matter what.
If you don’t like ‘the rules’ find your own way of breaking them.
That’s exactly what I intend to do.
Even when a dream doesn’t come true the way you’d hoped there’s always a silver lining.
You always will have achieved something.
You will always have a reason to feel proud – because you aren’t one of life’s quitters, you’re a dreamer and a doer.
And in the end, it’s far better to have dreamed and lost than never to have dreamed at all.
If you need more inspiration on not giving up on a dream play this song. And keep on keeping on.