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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The Anxiety of Not Writing

TG Christmas has passed. 

I appreciate that so many enjoy and celebrate Christmas. I do, too, in my way. It’s not actually Christmas that dismays me, but those places closed for the holiday. I don’t begrudge people that, but with the closed coffee shops, I miss my writing. More critically, I get anxious about it.

My anxiety when I don’t write is that what I’ve written is crap. Panic rises like Yule log smoke. It reminds me of a friend.

He’d been a football player, a wide receiver in high school and college who tried out for the pros and didn’t cut it. As a wide receiver, he was expected to be fast and to be able to run and run and run. So that’s what he did. Every day, he ran five miles.

He continued his habit after he didn’t make it as a player. He’d become a high school assistant coach by then. He moved on from football when he was thirty, going into serious business to make serious money.

Still, he ran five miles every day. He told me that he runs every day because he’s afraid that if he stops running, he’ll lose the ability.

Yeah, that’s not me with my writing, but I understand his thinking.

I thought about writing at home on Christmas day. Alone in the office in front of my laptop, I thought, I can write now. I’ve tried it before.

Picture this.

The cats troop in to see what I’m doing because I’m typing. Typing attracts the cats. Click click, click, they hear. What’s that, a mouse? Curious to see, they crowd around me.

These cats, all male rescues, don’t get along. Within seconds, they begin complaining about the others’ presence, locations, or existence. “What’s he doing here? want that space.”

“I was here first. You better leave while you can, hairball.”

“Who are you calling hairball, hairball?”

“You both would be well-advised to get the hell out of here before I turn you into a fur coat.”

“Oh, you think you can?”

My wife will typically come in then, jumping onto her laptop to surf the net and play games, and read the news.

The news must be shared. “Did you read what happened?” “Did you read what so and so said?” “Did you see this video? I think you’ll like it.”

I can tell her that I’m writing, and she tries to respect that, but as writers know, writing often involves sitting silently, staring at nothing or studying your fingernails or looking at something else on the net while the muses get their sierra together. So she’ll then say, “Are you writing? Or can I ask you something?”

Of course, nothing can be done about the cats. I can send them outside, yes, but I’d pay for that later.

So, no, I decided not to write.

This left a void. Into that void crept my imposter fears, my insecurities, doubts, uncertainties, fears, and anxieties. It’s amazing how fast, persistent, and subtle they are, how they move in with little noise. Then, suddenly, my head is filled with their sound. They’re like a destructive, pessimistic flash mob.

All this isn’t why I began the practice of daily writing. I started writing every day to finish stories and novels. I write everyday to learn and improve my writing skills. I write everyday because the muses deliver scenes, dialogue, and concepts. Their deliveries excite me, and I want to pursue them. I want to write to understand what I think, and I enjoy writing, conceiving and imagining, story-telling and resolving, visiting these places and events that mushroom in my thoughts.

It’s all complicated, isn’t it? Better to just write than to consider it all. Hold your breath and jump in, and see how far it goes.

The coffee shop is open. I have my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Merry Christmas.

Ho, ho, ho.

 

 

The C-130 Dream

It began with innocent travel planning with my wife and her family. One or her sisters and her daughter were there, but honestly, these folks changed throughout the dream.

First, we’d talked about where to go, details which I don’t remember. Then, we were trying to pile into a sky-blue station wagon. As there were so many people, this required some strategizing about how to pack the luggage and where everyone could sit. I was in charge.

Then, in an eye-blink, we were off, and then arrived at our next destination. This happened to be my military unit in Germany. We were there to arrange fight via a C-130 to cross the ocean.

First, though, we needed to coordinate with someone for support. Now, getting a little weird, I found a listing for a Major Ward. Major Ward was a U.S. Navy F-4 pilot, according to the listing in small, black, bold print. The problem there is that the Navy doesn’t own a major officer rank. That didn’t occur to me in the dream, and I contacted him via telephone for help.

After explaining that I needed clearance and refueling assistance, he curtly told me, “No. It’s a holiday.”

I said, “Okay, but I’m going to tell the higher powers that be that you declined to help because it’s a holiday.”

After a pause, Major Ward said, “Fine. I’m not happy, but I’ll do it.”

I then entered a series of delays trying to herd everyone together, get the crew going, filing flight plans, and getting launched. Discussions were undertaken about which of the three C-130s to take, 1819, 1822, or 1828. These are the real aircraft’s abbreviated tail numbers. With my patience strained, I was suddenly airborne in the C-130.

Looking out the windshield from the cockpit, I was flying over ocean. The sky ahead was darkening blue with dark clouds limned by the setting sun. Off to the right was a Navy aircraft carrier and another ship.

The flight was bumpy, and we were low. Wondering about the crew and pilots, I remembered different pilots from my assignment and knew none of them were flying the aircraft. Feeling surprised, I thought, am I the pilot?

I think I was. As I’m not a pilot, I worried about what was going to happen. As the aircraft was dipping and bouncing around, I also worried about being too close to the aircraft carrier and other ship, and basically commanded, “Pull up. Climb.” The aircraft did, but sluggishly. We passed those ships and flew on.

We arrived at a beautiful tropical destination on a bright and sunny day. From the water, it looked like the Caribbean. Excited, I followed the landing instructions. We ended up landing in the water about a hundred yards from the beach. Speaking with someone on the radio, I learned that this was because Major Ward had ordered it. He was behind these flawed landing instructions. I suspected he was being spiteful.

Going ashore and into the terminal, I met Major Ward, a square-jawed tall and broad white man with thick black hair. He said with a flippant air, that the landing site was an error, probably because it was a holiday. His pettiness amused me.

Returning to the aircraft, which was floating on the sea, bobbing with the waves, I decided I could take off by turning it into the wind and surfing across the water until I achieved the required air-speed. I executed my plan. The aircraft climbed and banked into the sky, carrying me on toward my destination.

The dream ended.

The Stairs Dream

Here’s a dream fragment from last night.

I was walking a carpeted hallway when I came to a doorway at the hallway’s end. Dark brown, it was a metal door, the kind found in office buildings in America as emergency exits. Not seeing any signs, I looked back and then decided to open it and go through. As I am in life, I was cautious when I use doors like this, and confirmed that it wasn’t locked, and that I could open it from the other side. I didn’t want to be trapped somewhere.

The other side was a well-lit landing. I seemed to be in the middle of a building. I didn’t see any signs, but I decided on an impulse that I’d go up.

Up I went, with my feet clattering on the stairs, which, I realized, were metal. Okay. After going to the next level, I saw a red sign that said in white lettering, “SECOND FLOOR”.

I paused to lean over the railings and look at the stairs above and below. I didn’t see how it could be the second floor. There were a lot of stairs below. It didn’t make any sense. If I was now on the second floor, than the floor I was on before was the first floor, right? Was the first floor the ground floor? I thought, well, maybe the steps going down past that level descend to a basement level or a parking garage.

I decided to go back down. Reaching that floor, I saw another red sign with white lettering, “FIFTH FLOOR”. That make no fucking sense. Facing the door to open it and leave the stairwell, I found a green door. I remembered that it’d been brown. The color change disconcerted me.

As I went to open the door, it opened. A young white male briskly came out. Dressed in business casual, with trim, short-brown hair, he smiled at me as he went by. Then he stopped and said, “Do you need help?”

I said, “What floor is this?”

Pointing at the sign, he said, “The second floor,” which was what the sign said.

As I tried to reconcile that with what’d already happened, he said, “Where are you going?”

“I’m not sure,” I said.

He laughed. “Are you looking for a particular office or person?”

I laughed. “I don’t know what the hell I’m looking for.”

The dream ended.

With a little surprise as I awoke, I thought that I remembering having a dream like this years ago. I thought of it as an ambivalent dream, reflecting my indecisiveness and uncertainty. Yes, where am I going? What do I want to do? I want to write, and I do write, but beyond that, I want publishing success, but I don’t want to market myself or jump through hoops to get published.

Yes, what am I looking for? Sometimes I rue being me.

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