I know as part of the dream’s setting that I’d bought a place in Germany. It seemed like a condo or apartment in an older building. The building was a mysterious maze of rooms and halls. Most were not well lit. Rain lashed the windows and could sometimes be heard drumming.
The place I’d purchased was filled with things, which were mine, now. I was exploring, mostly in darkness, to see what these were. Spotlights lit the objects when I came across them.
One object was a black box with raised, golden letters in another language. Someone with me, a female who was never seen and whose role wasn’t defined to me, said with excitement, “That’s Jewish.” They went on about the language on the thing. The object looked to me like it could be a complicated metal camera or something that stamped other materials to form or shape objects.
Focusing on my guide’s explanation, I heard her say, “The Nazis took things from the Jews.”
I was trying to understand how they’d come to be in this building, which now reminded me of a Nazi building I’d toured when I’d been stationed in Germany. It had apartments inside where government officials lived, along with offices.
“It belongs to you,” my mysterious female guide said.
I was excited to own something like this but also disturbed, because it had been stolen from others. My guide was going on about being able to make money from it.
I left her to explore more on my own and ended up back in my living quarters, which was part of the same building. I discovered more objects. I also discovered my quarters and new building seemed to be poorly maintained. Down in the lowest level was a ill-kept garage area. I discovered squatters had been using it, accessing the area by raising the garage door. I learned this from seeing one squatter open the garage door, revealing pouring rain, slip out, and close the door. Making a note of that, I continued walking about. Most of the flooring was missing from several levels, and animals were coming in via tunnels in some rooms.
Yet, I was excited by what I found left behind by previous tenants. My guide reappeared. Showing me something, she said, “You can sell this and easily make fifty thousand dollars.”
That pleased me, but I told her, “I’m not selling anything that was stolen from anyone.”
She said, “We don’t know if anything is stolen.” She must have known I was recalling what she said before, because she said, “Many of these things were made before world war two, but we don’t know how they got here. They could have been stolen from the Jews, or the Jews may have lived here and left them behind. They belong to you, now. That’s what was agreed when you bought the building.”
I wasn’t mollified, but I became cautiously optimistic that I could sell some things and make some money. Returning to that first black piece with the golden writing, I stood and admired it, framed in white light and surrounded by darkness.
As I edit and revise the Incomplete States series, I’d begun to become optimistic. I thought, maybe instead of self-publishing this series, I can find representation and a publisher.
It’s part of my never surrender approach. My hope became stronger this weekend. My wife and I saw Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin. Listening to UKLG recount how difficult it had been to become published, how nobody got her when she sought publication, but how much she believed in herself, reminded me of my writing efforts and suspended publishing efforts. My writing, as she said about her writing, is not easily categorized. Yet, I thought, too, it’s arrogant to compare myself to her, for I’m in no way her measure as a thinker and a writer.
This dream, I think, reflects my doubts and concerns. Every day, as I edit, I enjoy what I’ve written. It excites me. But doubts haunt me.
It reminds me, writing is a lonely business, especially as a struggling novelist. That, I believe accounts for the dream’s darkness and the building’s dilapidated state, and the never ending rain, putting a damper on my hopes.