The Latest Barron Prize News

Pursuing Big Dreams: Words of Wisdom from Prize Founder and Author T. A. Barron

by | Jun 17, 2021 | Character Qualities, Dream Big, Guest Post

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been celebrating a number of our young heroes as they graduate high school. Whatever their next steps and adventures, we know they’ll continue to live heroically and to do so much good in the world. We’re proud of who they are and what they stand for, and we wish them all the very best.

In the tradition of offering graduates a little advice, we’re reprinting here a lovely essay by Barron Prize founder and author T. A. Barron. In it, he shares a bit about his journey to become a writer and the hard work it took to achieve that dream. He also suggests that in staying true to ourselves and our own dreams – and with a willingness to work hard — each of us can create the life we’ve imagined. I find his words inspiring and fitting for us all!

One Step Closer to Your Dream

T. A. Barron, Author and Founder of the Barron Prize

“A life — whether seamstress or poet, farmer or king — is measured not by its length, but by the worth of its deeds, and the power of its dreams.” — MERLIN: The Mirror of Fate

To be a writer has always been my dream. My first creations, written in fifth grade, were for my own, truly idiotic little magazine. (Appropriately, it was called The Idiot’s Odyssey.) When I wrote a secret exposé on what really went on inside the teachers’ lounge at my school (all made up, of course), I got into a heap of trouble! But that didn’t matter, because I’d discovered how much fun it is to write a story and share it with others.

When I was a college student at Princeton, I tried hard not to major in anything, although I came close to majoring in geology, history, religion, and other things. I won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in England and used that time to cast a wide net. I spent most of my time, and my earnings from summer jobs, traveling. I rode the Trans-Siberian railway, lived in southern and eastern Africa, and stopped in Japan to help roof thatched homes — all experiences that fed into my creative thinking.

After returning to Oxford, I wrote my first novel… one that collected 42 rejection letters. I toyed with the idea of retreating to a remote cabin in Alaska to write, but the mountain of rejection letters convinced me otherwise. Instead, I enrolled in Harvard’s law school, thinking of becoming an environmental lawyer. I changed my mind again and left law for a venture firm. No matter what changed, though, I kept writing.

Eventually, I resigned from that successful venture firm, moved back to my hometown in Colorado, and pursued my writing career full-time. Now, thirty years and twenty-nine published books later, I’m living proof that following your dreams means always pushing forward and reaching toward your goals.

While I love that people enjoy my books for the adventures and escape to fantastic worlds, those aspects are really not what drive me to put my pen to paper. Instead, I write to pass on some big idea, to inspire kids. Inspire them to believe in the power of their dreams. All of us feel lost and alone sometimes in life — washed ashore, like the boy in the opening scene of MERLIN: The Lost Years (Book 1 of The Merlin Saga). But all of us, like young Merlin, have real magic down inside. All of us have the potential to dig deep and find the magical person in ourselves. Just like Merlin.

The experience of working hard to achieve a sometimes-elusive goal, more than anything else, has made a difference in my life. I am certain that the same will be true for you. For if you can imagine your goals, your future, and your path to making a better world — all that remains is to work hard to achieve your dreams. And you will succeed! Just stay true to yourself, and true to your dreams, and nothing can stand in your way.