A Writing Dream

A dusky, beautiful young woman approached me. Wearing a short, light-blue skirt and high heels, she seemed like she was sixteen years old, but trim and gorgeous, with a doe’s large, dark eyes, and long, black parted in the middle framing a heart-shaped face.

Solemn and reserved, she stopped before me. She was holding a paper and pencil, and held them out toward me. “I’m from a writing class. We’re writing novels. We’re supposed to ask you for help.” Puzzled, I took the paper as she explained that the paper was a checklist of eight things to do to write a novel.

I asked questions to clarify who she was and where she was from. During that exchange, she indicated a large building at the top of the hill. Other classmates approached. All were young, with clear, clean skin and groomed hair. I knew several of them. They, like the first girl, were there to get my help with their writing assignments. They were writing novels and had the same checklist that she had. One boy, who was familiar to me, explained to me that they were on the first step, and needed help to write their novels because they didn’t know what to do.

I felt flattered and told them that I was happy to help them. Meanwhile, I became obsessed with the building that they were supposed to be going to school in. A dark, spicy mustard color, it was set into the top of a green mountain. It was the backside of it that intrigued me most. A floor rested at the very top. Its windows seemed broken and it seemed like it was empty. I wanted to know what was in it. I felt like I’d always wanted to know what was in it.

I asked one of the young men who I knew well if that building was where they went to school. He confirmed that it was. “Then you’ve been in it,” I said.

“Yes.”

“Have you been in the back?”

“The back? I’m not sure.”

“I want to know what’s in the back of the building.”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure what you mean. I need to go.” He took his checklist from me and stood. “But you can go into the building yourself and check it out.”

I went with him to the building. He went off to class. Climbing stairs and taking elevators, I went up as high as I could. One door was in the last room. It was a modern space, but didn’t have any windows. I went to the one door and tried opening it. It was locked but the young woman who I’d first met opened it. She wouldn’t let it open more than the width of her slender body.

She was holding a large mug of coffee. I tried seeing past her. “Can I come in?” I asked.

She shook her head. “But I can give you this coffee.”

“Thanks.” I took the coffee. “I can help you with your checklist, if you’d like.”

“No, thank you. We’re okay.” She closed the door.

Dismayed and frustrated, I stepped back. I wanted into that other room but didn’t know how to get there. Returning to the outside of the building, I contemplated the place that I desired to enter and confirmed, there was movement behind the windows. Something or someone was in there. Sipping the coffee, I plotted ways to satisfy my curiosity, determined to find a way.

The dream ended.

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Wobble Like Crazy

I’m back in the writing space following some unpleasant medical issues. In the last three days, I’ve averaged two thousand words each. It’s delicious to feel like I’m moving forward, no matter how word counts fall upon the writing spectrum in regards to their importance. I didn’t plan any word counts but they’re proof of something happening, a minor validation that I’ve been doing more than daydreaming.

After some arguing with the muses, me interrogating them to explain every thread, decision, and insight, and them laughing at me, I followed their instructions to, “Just write.” Some of the writing could be permanent but some of it might be delicately sculpted away or blown away with heavy explosives. Doesn’t matter. What I’ve written before during other writing projects may not help me this time. Each time that I write another novel, it’s a new adventure in learning how to be a better writer. I must write to have the material to shape, an interesting cycle. Write, edit, write, re-write, write, revise…where am I?

Well, I’m on the novel-writing spectrum. I slide along, following paths, retracing, forging new paths, falling off cliffs, and climbing back up. So it goes until there’s finally enough coherency for a novel to take shape, and then, finally, enough satisfying story in a reasonable order arrives, and then, at last, I pick a place where it can be comfortably ended with reasonable reward for readers who ventured through my thicket of words.

Can you say run-on?

I’m permitted a cup of coffee a day. I apply my allowance to my writing.

Illness is depressing, not because I have it, but because of its limitations. Bending down to pick up a piece of paper, scratch a cat’s chin, or put on my shoes and socks is slow and tedious and brings a measure of stinging discomfort. Walking remains uncomfortable and difficult, but not impossible. Of course, I have a history of rushing the healing processes. Press on, regardless, right? When I had a broken neck on Okinawa and wore a halo device, I pushed to go back to work and ended up dislodging that metal mother twice, sending me back into hospital. Anyway, I wobble around at a slow and careful pace, watching the ground to find the threads and seeds that the muses leave, then trying to parse their guidance.

Yeah, just write, baby. Stop critiquing, doubting, wondering, fearing, worrying, and questioning. Just get ‘er done. Pitter-patter.

Done writing like crazy for at least one more day. Sloshy, my drain-collection bag resting against my calf, is filled. Time to wobble on and empty him.

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.

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