I am a chronic dreamer. Every single night, without fail, I will dream. And, more often than not, I will remember it. Last night’s was a doozy. I am not going to disclose neither the nature of the dream nor whom it involved, but it was one that really fucking rattled me; it was the kind of dream that is plausible, where you wake up and freak out for a good few moments trying to piece together your reality. Instead of a dream, it had felt like a memory.
I did manage to extricate myself from the warm depths of my doona this morning, slide into my tights and head out into the cold for a forty-minute walk this morning. After I turned the first corner, thoughts of the dream disappeared as I instead focused on the lack of feeling in my fingertips and nose. Walking has always clarified things for me – and I know that that is not ground-breaking information, we all know the benefits of exercise and walking and jogging and all of that. I have never been much of an exerciser and it hasn’t been until recently that I have really come to rely on that time alone and the rhythm of my (short) strides to find clarity amongst the chaos that is my brain.
I ran into a customer that I used to serve at the café and his ginormous dog – seriously, Diesel is a beast and I could saddle him up and ride him rather successfully I would imagine. He asked me how everything was going at my new job – the customer, not the dog – and after I assured him that everything was going wonderfully and I am happy, he said something that I wasn’t quite prepared for. He said to me, rather sincerely, “That’s so great to hear Leah. It really is time that you started enjoying your very own life, for you.” It wasn’t the most profound thing that anyone has ever said, but in the early hours of this morning under the grey, clouded sky, his words settled around me with certainty. He put his hand on my shoulder and continued on his way with his gigantic beast dog and left me smiling as I started off once more towards home.
For the rest of my walk, I thought about his words. What do I want my ‘very own life’ to even look like? I have spent so much time recently putting everything back together again and now that things have settled, I can once again focus on where it is that I want to be, what it is that I want to do and how it is that I want my life to look. I know small things like where I would ideally love to live, and what my dream home looks like and the holidays I want to take. I know all of the airy-fairy dream things that we all think about and lust over. What I don’t know, is what it is I want to do – because I want to do absolutely everything. The ultimate dream is to be a published author, and I have always wanted to be published by Random House Publishers as it was their deliveries that I used to look forward to unpacking most and shelving when I worked at Angus & Robertson about three-hundred years ago. So yeah, that is the ultimate dream but to be published you need a manuscript. And for a manuscript, you need to write. And yes, I am writing, but I am writing this, to you, my humble readers. So that one, I feel, is more of an ongoing dream that I will one day achieve and be super proud of, but I need a dream that I can focus on in the more immediate future.
I would also love to work in publishing. I would love to do the marketing for a publishing house and organise authors to come out to Australia, and organise book tours and all of the press and manage the big social media accounts and work on the partnerships and everything that comes with it. I told that to Man and he said, “No.” And just before I smacked him for being an asshole, he continued, “You won’t be doing the marketing for a publishing house, because you will have started your own.” Like, come on, is that not the sweetest? And yes, that is also something I want to do now. START OWN PUBLISHING HOUSE. Simple.
And then there is the dream of opening my own bookstore. It would be wonderfully small and packed to the absolute brim with old and new titles. Every item would be hand-priced and when it came time to Mother’s Day or Christmas or any other celebration you can think of, I would individually select titles and make little, individual gift packs – each of them unique and unlike the next one. The sets would be wrapped in twine and there would be a handmade card that you could write everything or nothing on. I would have fresh flowers at the counter and candles dotted around the place (that will probably end up igniting the entire store and see my dream burn to the ground), and I would have a single grip coffee machine – but don’t even think of ordering anything that contains the words skim, decaf, weak, sweetener or any kind of nut/rice/goat/quinoa milk. I would host book clubs and local author readings, and I would reintroduce after-school story reading because that is something that is SERIOUSLY missing from this city/country/world right now. Dotty would come to work with me and wander around the store and I would have the world’s oldest cash register – ideally, one of the ones that make a dinging sound when it is opened. And Man would make the bookshelves, obviously.
But then, there is also this little space of the internet that I hope to make into something. I would love to blog full-time and take The #WCW Project internationally. I would love to host a The #WCW Event where there are insanely talented female speakers, and there is a lot of alcohol and food, and local artists can sell whatever it is that they have created and there could be readings for budding female authors and it would be super inspirational and everyone would love it and come out the other side of it feeling loved and held and celebrated and fed. That would just be bloody brilliant, if you ask me. And in fact, a few years ago when we were all in full swing with The #WCW Project and I was getting too many emails to even answer, I had started the process of planning the event. I contacted caterers and looked into what spaces I could hire, and what women would be interested and available to speak and attend. It will happen. Just like my book will.
So how does one know what to focus on? How am I ever meant to know what the correct dream is for me to follow because they are all taking up equal amount of space in my head and I feel just as passionately for each of them! I am lucky enough, and have worked hard enough, to have my foot in the door of the professional book world with my new role. And it has only made me want to learn and absorb and surround myself in it more – which is a very, very good thing. I know this.
For now, I know that all I can do is what I am doing. I will keep working hard at my job and creating content that will one day be my portfolio of work. I will keep plugging away at Don’t Ask Leah and signing women up for The #WCW Project and hope that it gets picked up by someone or recognised or launched into the fantastical world of successful ‘lifestyle bloggers’ even though I hate that term more than life itself. And I will keep writing my book whenever inspiration strikes and repeat the words RANDOM HOUSE RANDOM HOUSE as I cross my fingers and hope.
I guess I really do know what I want my life to look like and what I want to be after all!
I want to own a bookstore whose window display is populated with my very own book that has been published by Random House that I also do the marketing for and will blog about it and host large international #WCW Project events every six months. Simple, really.