Wish Chips and Shooting Stars

What you believe in makes all the difference.

As I said in the About Me section of this site, I think that saying wishes out loud gives them a greater chance of coming true, and I really do believe that. When I was little, though, not so much. I would wish on the first star I saw at night, birthday candles, and eyelashes, but always kept them secret – per the strict rules of wish making, if you tell a wish then it won’t come true.

I realized at the age of twelve, though, the folly of that system when I mentioned to my parents that I wanted a dog (a wish I had been making silently since birth) and they thought that was a great idea. What?!

We adopted a puppy a couple of months later and I never kept a wish to myself again. Now, I know, not all wishes that get spoken aloud come true. But some do, and in this case I didn’t even have the power to make this one come true by myself anyway, so sharing the idea was my only hope.

Since then, I have been an avid fan of making wishes and sharing them out loud. Not only does it keep my mind on my goals but many times, I need a little help, and keeping them to myself cheats me and the wish.

Now that I have children, I have passed on the love of wishing and we have enjoyed many kinds of wish making (for some reason we especially love making them at 11:11), sometimes making up our own quirky systems.

One of these quirks came into play when my daughters and I were eating nachos from Taco Bueno for lunch one day a couple of years ago. My older daughter, a few months earlier, said she thought it was lucky to get a tortilla chip that looped and folded back over on itself and that it in fact felt so lucky, we should make a wish whenever we found one. My younger daughter, never one for bothering with details, only managed to hear the part where you could make a wish, not the part where her sister made it up. So, here we are eating lunch, and my youngest is confirming the wishing status of any chip that might possibly be able to grant her a wish, when my older one gets distracted and stops answering her. It happens to be at the same moment a particularly questionable chip is discovered.

“Sissy, is this a wish chip?”
“Sissy, is this a wish chip?”
“Sissy, is this a wish chip?”

Back from lala land, Sissy says very casually, “Sure, it can be a wish chip.”

“What do you mean it can be a wish chip? Is it or isn’t it?”

“Well, it’s just for fun, so you can wish on whichever ones you want. You decide.”

“What do you mean ‘it’s just for fun’?!”

“You know, kind of like wishing on a star, it’s just for fun.”
Pause: Now she says this very kindly to the sweet little face that is beginning to scrunch up in the middle, but the tone doesn’t matter. The statement has been made and my older one and I realize we had had no idea what had been swirling in her head until that very moment. The tight face, the pinkish skin, the welling tears. She had not been making wishes ‘just for fun’.

“What do you mean ‘just for fun’?! You mean I wasted all of those wishes? For nothing?” Dreams were dashed, trust was smashed, and tears flowed.

I did not know what to say. I thought of all the times I had seen her, eyes squeezed shut, lips moving with no sound, hands clasped together, and I realized how familiar it felt. There would be no fixing what had just happened. But there could be a change for the next time she made a wish. I told her the story about the puppy when I was little, and the important thing that situation taught me about making wishes. It isn’t about the asking, it is about the decision to do everything I can to make it come true.

We hugged, wiped faces, made our apologies – and got out a piece of paper. On that paper we made a list. A list of all the wishes she could remember (the important ones never really leave your mind). We said them all out loud and found a safe place for the list, where it would be ready the next time the opportunity presented itself.

Now this story may not seem connected to my thoughts on writing, but it defines a big part of the reason I became a writer and how I think through the stories I create.

Here is a list of how this story relates in some way to my writing:

*If you really want something to happen, you have to believe in yourself to make it happen.
*Take something common (like wishing on a star) and give it your own special twist.
*Don’t let disappointment slow you down. Sometimes “when one door shuts,” another doesn’t open. You have to get off your keister and open it yourself.
*Believe in your characters. If you don’t believe in them, no one else will either.
*Make lists of ideas when you think of them. Creative minds are always thinking of new ideas and there is nothing worse than a good plot or character that you just can’t remember.
*Your character must grow. They must be different in some way at the end of the story than they were at the beginning. They must always be moving forward.

I have a lot of fun when I think of a story in my past that is important to me and see how it relates to the person I was then or the person I am now. Those small memories add up and make us who we are. Can you think of a story in your life that tells a lot about who you are, who you were, or who you want to be? Write it down!!!

Happy writing!

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