Friday Speak Out!: The Delight of Dreams that Don’t Come True

Friday, February 05, 2016
by Carol Coven Grannick

Songs mark and move the times of my life. They may comfort and calm, evoke memories, bridge transitions from one place in my life to another, capture the joy of the moment, and more.

One such song for me is When You Wish Upon a Star – the original and old-fashioned, nasal and crooning version sung by Cliff Edwards in Walt Disney’s Pinocchio and subsequently on all the Sunday night Walt Disney hours I watched as a child. If you don’t know the song, brace yourself for the nineteen fifties and find it here:

I grew up hoping that magic would transform my dreams into reality, and found – of course – that it didn’t. I did not know how to handle the disappointments, and lost many writing years. Not until I happened upon the research and work of Martin Seligman and the Positive Psychologists did I teach myself, and then others, the skills for developing a more resilient self. Only then could I pursue learning about what it meant to be a writer, from business to craft and back again.

Now, the journey of discovering, writing, re-writing, and even re-visioning a story is my dream come true.

Many of the children’s stories I love (and write) tell about dreams that come true quite differently than characters imagine. They evolve in the process of a character’s struggle with an initial longing that integrates learning, awareness, different information and more. We change, and so do our dreams. And often the new reality is more deeply pleasurable than the once-dreamed-of goal or hope because of the character’s growth and change.

Phrases like “If you can imagine it, you can do it” or “If you persist, the success will come” [“success” meaning publication] and above all, “If you believe in yourself, success will happen eventually” annoy me. Too magical. And besides, how insulting are those phrases for hardworking, skilled and even talented writers who are not getting published? They’re not imagining enough? They’re not persistent? They don’t believe in themselves?

I still love to listen to, and to sing, When You Wish Upon a Star. It triggers a powerful longing. But now the longing is not for a dream of the future, but for the real moments of time I will sit and write what I need to say. It’s luscious. Real. It pumps my heart up, sends excitement pulsing through muscles. The best thing I’ve done for myself as a writer is to set the longing for publication on a back burner. The journey of discovering, writing, re-writing, and even re-visioning a story is the dream come true.

As I write this, I’m mid-revision for an agent who is helping me create the book I’ve dreamed of creating. Who knows what will happen? But I’m working hard and loving my writing life. After all, even in the Disney version, the song belies the real story that the Blue Fairy only makes magic after Pinocchio does the work.

And however the future evolves, you’ll probably find me singing.
* * *
Carol Coven Grannick is a poet and children’s author, and her work has appeared in nCricket, Highlights for Children, and Ladybug, as well as numerous other literary and trade print and online magazines.

Grannick’s middle grade novel in verse, REENI’S TURN, was awarded Finalist for the Katherine Paterson Prize, and excerpts appeared in the Spring/Summer HUNGER MOUNTAIN. She is currently revising the book for her agent.

As a clinical social worker, Grannick also consults and presents workshops on developing and maintaining skills for a resilient life. She can be contacted at

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


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