Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality. – Malala Yousafzai
A post popped up on Facebook a couple weeks ago that got my attention. It was an event involving the writer-in-residence at the Savoy Hotel in London.
I’ve had an unnatural obsession with the Savoy since at least high school; maybe earlier. I have no idea how it started, but I think it was sparked by this 1923 photo of Fred and Adele Astaire dancing on the Savoy’s roof. It’s a photo I still love: dancing on the roof, on a foggy day in London town. Maybe it’s the joy on their faces.
On my first trip to London in 1988 I spent as much time at the Savoy as my bank account would allow: repeat visits for afternoon tea in the Thames Foyer and a perfect vodka martini in the American Bar (not on the roof). My fantasy remained intact.
In 2014, accompanying my daughter to London for a semester study, I took her to the Savoy for tea and bought her her first legal drink in the American Bar. I even took the historical tour – yes, the hotel has a tour. It includes the suite where Monet lived and painted his view of the Thames, and the private dining room where Winston Churchill held court. We learned why the Savoy never seats parties of 13: The last time they did, in 1898, the man who scoffed at superstition was shot down on his return to Johannesburg. After first requiring a waiter to balance the table, since 1927 a 14th place is set for a statue of Kaspar, the hotel’s black cat mascot.
Earlier this year I was back. No afternoon tea this time, but my daughter (back in London for graduate school) and I had drinks in the Beaufort Bar.
So the event announcement did more than get my attention. It went to the top of my writerly goals: to be Writer-in-Residence at the Savoy. Okay, probably not a realistic goal; more of a dream. To be able to write – just write – in a place that inspires me is what’s important. The scones and martinis are bonuses. I don’t need a plaque in the lobby or other recognition; just a quiet place to myself. So I decided to ask other writers what they dream about:
“To make a positive difference.”
“My (until now) secret dream is to have my work adapted into manga and/or anime.”
“I’d love to be nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay.”
“For my written work to be included in a project that also includes other forms of art. Think: my poetry spoken over a ballet performance, printed and framed and hung in a gallery next to a painting, etched or molded or written in calligraphy onto jewelry, clothes, etc.”
“For my inspired work, writing and other forms of expression, to awaken the hearts of those it touches, empowering them, inspiring them, transforming them and forever shining hope.”
Surprised? No one mentioned money. No one mentioned accolades or awards, other than to be nominated for one. They spoke of the desire to collaborate with other artists and inspire their readers. And all admitted they’d never shared those dreams with anyone else.
There’s nothing wrong with monetary goals. To be able to earn a good living from your writing is probably every writer’s goal. And recognition is nice – very nice – whether it’s a thank you card or a Pulitzer Prize.
But those are not the things that last. Our words will last. They’ll last because they’ve touched readers in ways we may not anticipate. Our books will outlive us.
What we’ll remember are those dreams and whether we fulfilled them. Saying them out loud is terrifying because we risk ridicule. But sharing them is exactly what we need to do, the first step to realizing those dreams (you never know who can help you). Because until we decide to make them a reality, they’ll remain beautiful, elusive dreams.
Now that I’ve admitted it, my Savoy dream is out there in the universe. And who knows? Maybe the baby steps I’ve already taken will lead me to this dream. Maybe they won’t. But I’ll be closer than I would’ve been if I’d kept my dream a secret.
What’s your dream?