The Library Dream

Randy and I were going to the library. Randy is a friend who died of colon cancer five years ago. He was a few months older than me.

In the dream, he was the Randy I always knew, although he was driving a black Mustang GT, which is unlike Randy. When, in the dream, we got out of the car, I said, “I like that car. I’ve rented one three times now, although they were the next generation. All of them were white. One was a convertible.”

Randy said, “I know, you told me.”

We went into the library. It was a modern brick and glass building. They’d called me to fix something there. Randy was just giving me a ride. Then he and I were going off to have a beer.

In the library, I sought the head librarian. She gave me blueprints. They were highlighted by supports that I needed to fix. She went off immediately. As I studied the blueprints, Randy asked, “Why are they having you do this?”

I replied, “I’ve done it before, and they know that, I guess.”

Studying the prints and the building, I found where the supports were to be fixed. But as I studied the situation, I decided that what they intended wouldn’t work.

Off I went to find the head librarian.

She was in another section with a man, working on fixing something else. Seeing me, the man said, “Oh, just fix it.”

Showing them the blueprints, I explained to them what I thought was wanted and why I didn’t think they’d work.

The head librarian said, “Well, you’ll have to take it up with him. He’s the one that sent the plans down. I’m just a messenger.”

I’m like, “Who is him? How do I get old of him?”

But the librarian was ignoring me.

I went off again to reconsider the supports and the fix. I remained convinced that they wouldn’t work.

People started entering the library. Some event was going on. Randy and I found books and then sat down to read, along with dozens of others. Most were men.

A woman introduced a man. The man, small and dark, began speaking. I stopped reading to listen to him but he was speaking so softly, I couldn’t hear and understand him.

Randy kept reading. Seeing that, the man walked over and handed Randy a card, and then walked away. He was still talking but I couldn’t hear him.

Holding up the card, Randy said, “What’s this? Let me take my glasses off.” He couldn’t do that because he had a book in his hand. He handed me the card. I read, “See what you’re missing when you don’t listen?” on it. Randy took his glasses off, handed them to me, and took the card. As he read the card and I held his glasses, I realized that my palms were sweating and his glass lenses were getting wet and smudged.

I apologized to Randy as I handed his glasses back. That’s where the dream ended.

One More Time

I was frothing with surprise and delight for a while today.

The morning’s email brought interest from three agents. They wanted to see more material from April Showers 1921, a surprise. I thought that all interest from the first round of submissions had died (accomplished in October, 2019). I was regrouping for another round of submissions.

I also thought how odd it was that these agent things happen in clumps. But then, I submit in clumps, and the agents describe similar processes and response times. It shouldn’t be a surprise when they respond in clumps.

What WAS a surprise was an agent expressing interest in Four on Kyrios, the first novel of the Incomplete States series (five books). I submitted to her in February, 2019, ten months ago.

(A pause to consider that I’d finished writing a five novel series last year (Incomplete States, 430,000 words), and then wrote a novel earlier this year (April Showers 1921, 180,000 words), and now I’m finishing a third book (To Begin, 73,000 words so far). And yes, that does please me. Plodding along at about five pages a day does start adding up. Especially when I remember that Incomplete States and all of its support documents (side stories, character, planet, and cultural histories, etc) added up to one million words.)

Although it’s exciting to receive the emails from the agents, after reflecting, I thought, well, I’ll do my writing session today, and then try to respond to these agents tonight. I wasn’t being contrary or sabotaging myself, but in thinking through where I was and who I am, I enjoy the writing process, I’m enjoying writing the current novel, and I have momentum. (The muses are being friendly and I don’t want to alienate them.) So, although my goal is to find publication for those previously written novels, writing the current novel entices me more.

It’s a curious sensation. Yeah, I seek publication beyond the self-publishing of the four novels that I’ve already done. The agent interest is validation, in one sense; someone is interested! In another sense, I shrug; I’ve always written for myself, creating mysteries and logic problems for me to solve, building and expanding worlds in my mind, and discovering characters who emerge as people to me.

I’m also a tinge jaded, reconciling myself, yeah, you’ve been shown interest by agents and editors before, and it’s come to naught. (Really, are you so cynical, Michael?)

Yes, I am. More than cynicism, in the course of writing novels and following a quest to be a better thinker, story-teller, and writer, I’ve fallen out of concern about what others think about my writing. I can argue that some of that is self-preservation (and perhaps a tincture of imposter syndrome). See, if I don’t get excited, then I’ll be less dejected if the agents decline my project. That’s the theory.

It’s also short-sighted; being in a bubble of my own thinking, reading, writing, and criticism means that I don’t receive feedback that could help me grow.

Yes, true.

So, being cynical, jaded, short-sighted, and dubious, writing, with all of its challenges and frustrations, is more immediately rewarding and satisfying. Solving these self-made issues generates a sweet dopamine infusion. Perhaps that’s the lesson — and warning — that I should really find in my response today: I’m a writing addict, looking for a quick fix.

Today’s news does want me to treat myself to a scone or muffin. Comfort food, I believe, to help cope; the potential for advancing also carries the angst and burden of failure. Have something to eat, right? It’s a humorous pattern.

Yet, again…there was that time when I came across a woman reading my novel at a Starbucks here in my town, a cool experience. I’ve received feedback from readers about how my they’ve enjoyed something I’ve written, which was a powerful jolt to the ego. Multiple those intangible rewards by the potential that being published on a larger scale could bring.

Also in passing, though, I do enjoy reading my own work. It’s fun to read what I’ve written, and it often surprises me. I understand what that says about my process and being in the tube. What was originally conceived and written (in my methodology) frequently evolves under editing, revising, refinement, and polishing. I write to know what I think, and I rewrite to clarify it and deal with loopholes in my thinking (and plotting and problem solving).

As a final piece, of course; this is me, today. Me, tomorrow, or yesterday — or even later today — might respond differently. Moods (and the hopes and expectations related to them) are dynamic. Hence, I needed to write all of this out just to think about it, a prelude, perhaps, to discovering how I feel.

Well, it’s all thinking fodder. Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Got to feed that addiction, you know?

 

 

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