Follow your dreams.
How many times have we heard that exhortation? How many of us have actually tried to follow our dreams? Are we truly aware of what is involved in following a dream?
I can only speak for myself here; following a dream takes a surprising amount of bravery and hard work. The “idea” of following a dream is easy, because it is, in itself, just a daydream. “Someday I’ll…..such and such….” But that idea ends up never acted upon. To pull that idea down from the clouds into your hands to be made into realty is a rather surprisingly Big Deal.
For violinists, this is often about pursuing conservatory, competitions, performances, a career, etc.
For me it is a much different case. As an adult beginner with violin I discovered that simply holding the instrument correctly with the left hand was a challenge. “Hmmm, I wonder if something could be done to help with that?” And thus began my journey. It started out as trying to find a way to help myself. It then morphed into creating something that I hope can help other students of the violin/viola. To create something entirely new. An aid, a device, an invention, a product, a patent. I won’t go into the details of the development process, but I will say that it took me quite a long time to refine my initial hazy idea into something that worked well, felt good, and looked good.
Every step of the way I had to learn how to do it. How do I sculpt the form in the first place? After achieving that- how do I make another? How do I make it in different sizes for different sized players? How do I protect this idea? How do I get this aid out to be able to help others?
I had hand crafted an aid that worked perfectly fine for me personally, and I could have left it at there. No following dreams, no fuss, no muss. Instead I had to delve into 3D laser scanning of the part, becoming adept enough at CAD modelling to manipulate the 3D design into more refined shapes that functioned better. How to make more? Well, I better learn how to use the 3D CAD models to make molds of it utilizing 3D printing. How to mold a part? I had to research appropriate foams to use in my molds for the body of the device. Creating the ShiftPad took more 3D CAD design and this time a crash course in laser cutting of neoprene. None of this is anything I had done previously.
And concurrently with all of that development was filing for a patent. Talk about a gut-check! Filing a patent is another one of those things that sounds rather easy-breezy. An inventor has an idea, files a patent, and rides off into the sunset, right? Oh boy, what an adventure unto itself it actually is. First off is trying to find a good patent attorney (I am quite happy with mine!). Then you have to put your idea down onto paper, explain what it does, how it does it, how it is different than any previous patents that may already be out there. YOU have to do all of that if you want a strong, effective patent. It’s like a term paper due in college, except its real life, not simply an assignment. The patent attorney doesn’t do that for you, they simply (or not so simply actually) take what you give them and craft a remarkable document that gets submitted to the US patent office for review. Did I mention legal fees? Did I mention how most patent filings get rejected on their first submission and must then be argued to the patent office of how your item is different from their objections? It’s a grind, and it takes months and years to accomplish.
Setting up a website, marketing, setting up a workshop in the basement.....probably other stuff that I've forgotten as well, all learned on the go.
The journey so far has had the entire spectrum of emotions; elation, fear, joy, doubt, excitement, back to fear, hope, ok-still scared, satisfaction….and onwards into the unknown.
DON’T LET ANY OF THAT STOP YOU FROM FOLLOWING YOUR DREAMS!
Whether it is becoming a better violinist, asking someone you like out on a date, having children, or any number of other dreams. Go for it!
If you have a dream, I fully encourage you to act on it. I think you will find it to be a journey uniquely challenging and fulfilling.