How a Dream Inspired a Career Change

Little girl playing with balloons
Little girl playing with balloons

In September 2003, my eldest son woke me with my morning coffee -- a weekend treat. I was disorientated. I'd been dreaming but my subconscious hadn't let the dream go. I sat in bed, drinking my coffee, recalling the dream with clarity: a schoolgirl leaves her English homework on a park bench. A man finds the exercise book and reads her story -- a story about a murdered girl whose ghost helped capture her killer. The man sets out to make a "perfect film" based on the story and the girl who wrote it unwittingly becomes the main character. I clearly recognized the places in my dream -- my home town of Penrith and a guesthouse in Glencoe Valley that became the man's hideout. That half an hour or so, sat in bed replaying the dream in my mind, changed my life.

I wrote the dream down in my notebook. I thought the plot would make an interesting book. All weekend thoughts of the dream consumed me and I found myself extending the plot, as if my conscious mind had taken over from my subconscious. By Monday morning, I had a three-page synopsis.

I had left school at 17 to pursue a career in the music industry. Music was my passion and by 21, I was running my own record label and earning a living writing jingles and songs. After my wife became pregnant with our first child, I started a music promotions company which I'd now been running successfully for 12 years.

I had never contemplated writing before. In fact, I hadn't read a book for over a year. Still, instead of going into the office that day to collect the DJ reports and Fastrax radio data, I sat in my living room typing the opening chapters. For the next six weeks I would delegate my promotions work and finish the book that I had provisionally titled The Three Wrongs.

Of course, I knew nothing about the publishing industry. The viewpoints in my novel were arbitrary and switched between first and third person. I had a lot to learn and, even though I was proud of the story and had made it work, the book wasn't really fit for publishing. My first draft was rejected -- nice concept but technically unconvincing. My ideas were good but my writing sucked. What this exercise did, however, was to completely shift my career path. I enjoyed the writing process. By now my imagination was saturated with ideas and I was filling many notebooks.

I made the decision to close my company and learn about the publishing industry. I studied the technical aspects of writing, copy-editing, proofreading, self-publishing, marketing and read hundreds of blogs by other authors. Looking back, I can't believe the ease of the transition. I completely abandoned the music industry -- my passion -- and divorced it for this newer, more exciting model, with neither regret nor conscience. I became a publishing assistant and researched, critiqued and provided marketing for other authors.

I have since abandoned The Three Wrongs but have two published books, Ring of Conscience and A Parallel Trust. Writing is a new passion. The creative process is different with every project and I've seen the industry evolve over the past 12 years.

That dream became a defining moment in my life. It created a butterfly effect that set me on a new path. As a bonus, it rekindled my love for music because, by withdrawing myself, I could look on to the industry from the outside and I found that the magic returned. I feel excited again when I enjoy a new artist and experience that buzz of adrenaline when I realise they have a back-catalogue I can explore.

My mother encouraged me to follow my dreams as a child, which is why she allowed me to leave college and focus on my passion for music. Little did I know that 20 years later, I'd literally be following my dreams.

Perhaps my subconscious knew my destiny all along.