An Infuriating Dream

While most of last night’s dreams are strong enough to recall, one dream remains a tantalizing sliver. In it, I was either told or decided – not certain of which – to go to a certain website. The website has four words in its name. The dream is creeping as slowly as the time between since the last season of Game of Thrones, tantalizing me with just…a little…more…about every hour.

Then I’ll stop and think and almost have it, only to lose it.

It’s maddening. Out, out, damn dream.

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The Portland Dream

After a period of turbulent dreams at the end of 2018 and 2019’s start, my dreams have become amazingly affirming and uplifting. There’s not much to write about. Besides their positive aspects, they’re clear and unambiguous, except for one dream.

In this dream, I’m busy with my normal life when a voice tells me to go to Portland to buy a car. I know that they mean Portland, Oregon, two hundred eighty-six miles away. I respond, “Why?” The disembodied voice from up high explains that I can get better deals there, and then shows me five cars that it thinks I’d like. I’m amused, but check out the cars, and agree, yes, I’d like them and they’re great buys, but what about maintenance. I don’t want to do drive a long way for maintenance.

Persistence and persuasive, the voice keeps trying to convince me that I need to go to Portland to buy a car. I finally agree, mainly just to get it to leave me alone. We part amicably, with me going off to tell my wife that we’re going to Portland to buy a car.

As for the dream’s meaning, I have few clues. Something I’ll need to think about. As I think about it to type, it seems to indicate a large shift in directions, something unexpected, that pleases me.

April Showers 1921

I wrote about a new novel that came to me in a dream the other night (“Spinning Up”). One unmentioned aspect was the newly conceived novel’s cover. I saw it in the dream. The cover felt and looked so real and substantial to me that I was nonplussed. The title, April Showers 1921, was embossed gold letters on a silver cover. It seemed so real that I looked up the title to determine if that book already existed. Without surprise, I found songs, books, and short stories called April Showers, but none had the 1921 addition, and none featured silver and gold covers. I seem safe with it.

I’ve worked on April Showers 1921 some since dreaming about it, fleshing out characters, setting, and writing some scenes, but I didn’t throw myself into it. After two days of that, I wondered, why not? I realized that indecision caused by my greatest weakness, over-analysis, was paralyzing me once again.

It’s a familiar scenario. I overthink something. That drains my resources, and I stop making progress until I resolve what I’m overthinking.

Naturally, this paralysis is all founded on a writing issue, specifically — this time — finding an agent for the Incomplete States series. I think I’ve identified several potential agents. I narrowed my search to one lucky agent. I’ve written a synopsis and query letter. That’s where I stopped.

The Incomplete States series employs several styles. In terms of recent books, it reminds me of Cloud Atlas. My series science-fiction infused, but its mostly literary, except the first novel has a science-fiction military noir feel to it. Fantasy flares strong in another book, while yet another has the sensibility of historic fiction.

Yes, I enjoy genre B&B – bending and blending – whether I’m reading or writing it.

On a side note, the great and all-knowing Internet says, don’t mention any of the rest of the series when seeking representation and publication of the first book.

For grins, I hunted down the rejection records for successful writers. I’ve followed this path before, so it’s very familiar to me.

J.K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter series was rejected twelve times, you know. Dr. Suess was rejected twenty-seven times before he found a publisher willing to take a chance on his Cat in the Hat book. The author of  The Martian, Andy Weir, had given up on being published, but kept writing and self-published. When The Martian found success, publishers came running. Kathryn Stockett, The Help, was rejected over sixty times. Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time, had twenty-six rejections. Catch-22, Joseph Heller, twenty-two rejections. Twenty for William Goldberg, The Lord of the Flies. Carrie, by Stephen King, was rejected thirty times. Pretty amazing was that Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, experienced over one hundred rejections. After she self-published and had success, publishers came calling, and her novel was made into a movie starring Julianne Moore, who won an Oscar for her performance.

There was also Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, over five times, and Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, rejected one hundred twenty-one times.

Reading about these rejections is invigorating and inspiring. You gotta have hope, optimism, belief, and determination. You gotta keep writing for the love of writing.

Writing about my paralysis cleared matters up and broke the log jam. (I now have a featured image of logs floating through my mind.) I’m ready to submit. (Ha, ha, I love how that can have multiple meanings.) All they can do is say no, right?

The day is full of promise. I got my coffee. Time to submit, and then write and edit like crazy, at least one more time.

J’accuse Dream

First, this has nothing to do with Zola’s letter, except the title. This is about my dream, aspirations, and doubts.

As background, I finished writing and editing a series of novels called Incomplete States. With that finished, I was moving into the next steps of what to do when you’re written a novel and want to get it published. Options are available.

My dreamscape has been quiet for several days so I didn’t think my decisions would show up in my dreams. But, boom, they came. When I awoke and thought about it, I laughed about what I’d dreamed.

The dream began with a new venture. People were expecting me and had high expectations for what I would do. I was relaxed, going about getting acclimated. As the dream progressed, I learned that I was in the military (again), involved with command and control.

Awakening, I thought, “Of course the military would be included.” I’d spent twenty years in the military. The structure helped me succeed without stretching myself. It was a comfortable existence. I often retreat to it in dreams.

Things quickly began going awry in the dream. I felt constantly behind and a little bit lost. I couldn’t find my uniform. I discovered I was already supposed to be somewhere, and I was late. Scrambling, I rushed to find my uniform, shave, dress, and get to work.

I was naked when my wife came in. “What’s this?” she pointed at my side. I couldn’t see what she referenced.

“Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” she said, and then steered to a mirror. “I think you’d better take a look.”

She pointed out several boils on my side. Horrified, I tried lancing them, and failed. The effort put me behind. Now I really had to scramble.

Awakening, I realized that I was facing my anxieties. “Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” That question seemed like I was trying to pretend to be someone else, and that I wasn’t clearly seeing myself and the situation, that I was misleading myself. And look how I’m blemished and flawed, the things I don’t see about myself, how I’m fooling myself. I took all of that about my publishing ambitions.

Finding shaving cream, I hunted down a mirror and started applying it to shave. The shaving cream was thick and brown. Crude and unfinished, I thought after awakening and reflecting on the dream, just as I worry that others will think about the series. 

Another military member in uniform stuck their head in the window. “What are you doing?” I said.

“Looking at someone using a mirror,” he said. “I’ve never seen that done before. I was wondering what it’s like.”

How absurd, I thought, but, awakening, I realized that I was questioning even the most basic aspects of myself. I remembered reading about experiments involving animals mirrors. Looking in a mirror and realizing that you’re seeing yourself is used to explore animal intelligence and self-awareness. By implying that I (as another entity in the dream) didn’t know how to use a mirror was a question about my self-awareness and intelligence.

A phone rang and I answered it. “We have an inflight emergency,” a male voice said. “We need you here to decide what to do.”

I was appalled. “But I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“Then you’re not coming?”

“No.” I hung up.

I didn’t need to think much about that aspect after awakening. The message behind the words seem nakedly clear, as did the next dream segment.

A chief master sergeant that I’d worked for during my first tour called me to him. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but this isn’t working out. To be honest, I expected more of you. It didn’t work out so I’m sending you back home.”

“‘But Chief,” I protested, but he wouldn’t listen to me.

Yes, it was all there, all the doubts, uncertainty, and uncertainty, along with rejection by a person in authority who I admired.

I thought I’d mastered these things, demonstrating again how easily I can fool myself. Yes, those doubts exist. Hell, they exist with the majority of efforts that anyone does. To reach and succeed, failure, ridicule, and exposure must be risked. These doubts are always in me, no matter how many times I’ve succeeded, or how often I’ve been reassured by myself and others. That’s just part of who I am.

While it gave me a good laugh to see how earnestly my subconscious mind (and thus, me) attacked me, it hasn’t changed anything. It’s there, and I know it, but I’m stepping out.

Cheers

 

Weird

I don’t recall any dreams from last night. Even when I don’t post about my dreams, I usually remember multiple scenes, if not entire dreams. (Or, maybe I convince myself that I remember them, and the muses feed details to fill in the vacuum.) After days of often chaotic, stormy dreams that battered my psyche, experiencing this lack of dreams calms and relaxes me.

It’s weird, though. I’m accustomed to waking up and processing dreams. Not having them to process leaves me with a lot of free time. It’s like finishing a large project and then looking around and saying, now what?

 

Battering Dreams…

The last two nights’ dreams have battered me. Tempestuous and often shocking, they uncovered memories, eroding the foundations of my confidence, prompting A.M. shakiness.

In one dream, my wife and neighbors had killed another neighbor. He was married to one of the neighboring females. I didn’t understand why they’d killed him nor why they were unconcerned.

The police rounded them up. My wife and neighbors had skinned the body, though. As I heard it, they planned to eat the man. While I struggled to clarify what I heard, they cheerfully entered the police station. They weren’t being arrested. It turned out the police had already arrested one of the perpetrators for the crime, but now my wife and neighbors were picking him up. He was being released. I didn’t understand how or why.

Another memorable dream had people secretly plotting to kill a wealthy, powerful family. This dream took place in faded green light. Little was clearly seen beyond silhouettes. The powerful family — husband, wife, and three children — was being betrayed. A missile strike was being planned to take them out.

Learning about it, I furtively warned the family. The covertly relayed that they’d been suspicious and thanked me. I kept an eye on them and the man betraying them. I saw him on a telephone, on of those big and corded push-button desk phones that were popular last century. Sneaking up, I overheard him telling the killers to call off the strike because I’d warned the family.

He noticed me spying on them, so he hung up and I left. Coming around later, I heard him on the phone again, telling those on the other end to wait to launch the missiles until he called them. He wanted to kill me at the same time so that I couldn’t cause them trouble. The missiles were launched, but then recalled.

Another dream was about powerful rains. Heavy charcoal clouds thickened overhead, and then pouring rain shuttered visibility. Rain sluiced off roofs and overflowed storm drains and gutters. Torrents filled the streets. Pedestrians and drivers were freaked as cars and feet splashed through fast, rising water. The water rose until where I walked was a turbulent lake. The lights dimmed under the rain’s relentless pounding.

However, caught in the rain myself, I tried reassuring everyone. Telling them not to worry, I kept saying, “It’s just rain. Don’t worry. This will pass. We’ll be fine.” I couldn’t find anyone to stop and listen to me.

Then memories were uncovered of things others said about me. It was a miserable version of “This Is Your Life”, asshole. Bitter things I’d heard, things that I hadn’t realized that I learned about later, as people spoke behind my back.

Awakening, I realized how much of this is because I’m on the cusp of achievement and decisions that prompt reflections and fears, all around writing and publishing, sharing my work, baring my efforts to others, and being fearful of exposure as an untalented poseur.

A long walk on the way to write pacified much. Thinking about the dreams, I realized that in each, I was never personally affected. I was witness, observer, and bystander, relatively unscathed by the swirl around me. That took me to conclude, this is about emotions and uncertainty. Writing it out now helped me navigate my fears and struggle free of my negative energy, at least momentarily, make some decisions and take some actions.

Time to write and edit like crazy, at least one more time this year.

Good Things

He admired his pile of shiny copper pennies. All were minted this year, removed from circulation when they found his hand.

Counting his shiny pennies, he made neat little stacks of ten, and then admired the stacks.

Such pennies, so shiny and new, had to mean good luck. He had sixty-four of them. One for each year of his life.

He grinned. Good things were coming his way.

The Medical Device Dream

I dreamed I was a young medical device inventor. I was at a trade show, displaying and explaining the device. It was a small show, standard place of booths, tables, and displays in a hotel ballroom, but sparsely attended. It was the last day and I was very upbeat.

Looking for backers and investors, I was demonstrating my device. In retrospect, it reminds me of devices like Star Trek‘s tricorder. There were differences. Running my device over a person created a three-dimensional full-color model of their body. Nerves, muscles, bones, blood vessels…everything was faithfully displayed. Everyone seeing it responded with enthusiasm and amazement.

But the neat part was that my device could be used for cardiovascular procedures. I demonstrated that after creating the model, it became an active, functioning replication of the scanned body. Using entrance through a femoral artery with a standard introducer, a small drone could be deployed into the bloodstream.

Yes, it was a tiny ship, just like the one they miniaturized in Fantastic Voyage (1966). (BTW, can someone please consider remaking Fantastic Voyage? Everything else is being remade. I think we can reboot that puppy with modern CGI, and then create a television series and a franchise. You’re welcome.)

Except, my ship wasn’t manned by Stephen Boyd, Donald Pleasence, Raquel Welch, and the rest. Instead, the cardiovascular team use the ship’s devices via wireless virtual reality goggles to open occlusions, scale down plaque and fat, and fix valves and dead spots. While I mention cardiovascular, my ship is small enough that it can also navigate, clean, and repair the peripheral vasculature, including the cerebral vasculature and the renal and carotid arteries, without blocking the blood flow.

Pretty damn fine invention, isn’t it?

No wonder I was so pleased in the dream.

The  medical trade show ended. I was going to return with some friends to my room and then have dinner. But, to get into my room required me to use a combination lock. I’d set it earlier. Now I struggled to remember it. Taking some time, I recalled that I’d used twenty-three as the starting point, and then remembered that I’d gone two up and two back.

Success. I entered my room, pleased with my device and the show, which was now ended.

Dream ended.

The Gophers Dream

Walking this morning and thinking about writing and music, I suddenly recalled last night’s gopher dream. OMG, how could I forget it?

It was so weird but so nothing. What dream about gophers isn’t weird? They are for me, because I don’t have memories about dreams with gophers.

Basically, the dream found me cooking. The house I was in wasn’t any that I live in, but I knew it as my house. I don’t know what I was cooking except that I was tending a pot on a white porcelain stove. To my left was a lawn area, but the lawn area was in my house. That took me a bit to put together as I was cooking, because the lawn’s surrounding walls were interior house walls.

As I cooked, stirring the pot and peering in at the contents, I realized something was moving in the lawn. A few newspaper sections were on the ground. Something had moved under one of them.

While I’m cooking and pondering this, a female friend entered and started chatting with me. Then she said, “Oh my God, I think I just saw an animal in your grass.”

“Yes,” I said, “I thought I saw something before.”

I stopped cooking to check it out. As I did, I found, yep, a hole under the newspaper section. I didn’t know what made it but while I was checking it out, a big gopher popped out of another hole and looked at me. Then it ducked back.

I had gophers in my lawn in my house, but I was till cooking, and returned to the stove. As I cooked, another large gopher popped up from a different hole. I realized I had more holes than I thought. There were more and  new holes. Holy crap.

About that time, my wife entered. As the female friend explained what was happening, my wife went onto the lawn to look at the holes. Comically, she’d go by a hole, and the gopher would pop up behind her, but she would never see them. More newspaper sections were on the lawn, too.

My wife finally went to the corner. Pulling back sections of newspaper, she peered into an exposed hole with our female friend beside her. “M,” my wife said, “you should come and see this.”

“I know,” I answered. “We have holes. Gophers are causing it.” As I said that, several gophers popped out of holes. They were all looking at me. My wife, with her back turned to them as she studied the hole, never saw them.

End dream.

###

There is a post script.

Working on this section of novel, I’ve been dismayed. There are holes in the part I’m editing. Thinking about it, I realized there were holes in the proceeding chapters to these chapters. That’s where I think I need to put some energy and effort to improve it.

After I thought about that, remembered the gopher dream, and typed it up here, I realized the gopher dream was about the holes. I was cookin’, yer know? Writin’ and editin’, everything was copasetic. Doin’ good and feein’ fine. Then, suddenly….mmm…this isn’t working. Drat.

I decided that’s what the gopher dream was about. I’d missed holes. They’re paper over but if I look, their cause can be seen.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Got my coffee. Time to start editing and writing like crazy, at least one more time in 2018.

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