Oh, we’d been working, a long, hard period. There’d been many of us but now…well, the situation was different. Changing parameters meant only five remained, plus the overseers. I didn’t know who any of these were, outside of myself. Selected as one of the final five, I felt privileged and flattered. Then, classic imposter syndrome kicked in. I had no idea of what was going on.
It seemed like different things were ‘going on’. We were trying to help someone else find direction. There was a map to that effect. But we needed to gain their trust. Also, how did we convey map directions to them? Borders and other problems precluded simple, direct methods.
A huge map dominated one wall. I was summarizing to myself. Fix the borders. Define them. Find the person we were to help. Gain their trust. Get them over the border.
The map seemed to be taking shape. Mountains dominated — very mountainous place. We were adding borders but I stayed mystified. Why were we the ones finding the borders? Didn’t the borders already exist? Asking these questions, I learned in roundabout manner, the borders were known but were lost, so we’re recovering them.
We thought we’d done a pretty good job. Black borders were drawn in, though some areas, like in the south, remained open.
But the overseer was furious. She told us, “You’ve drawn a face.” I looked at the map but didn’t see it. “These are not the borders. You’re running out of time. What is wrong with you? Get it done.”
This berating restored my bewilderment and confusion. Worse, to me, it seemed to make sense to the other four. But I couldn’t comprehend it. What was wrong with me?
I was beginning to feel left out. Abandoned. The other four turned attention to drawing the other to us and gaining his trust. I was befuddled about who the other was. They all knew and seemed to think that I should know. With some surprise and suspicion, I thought a few of the other five were different people. When did that happen? Had they changed?
One stormed in with an idea. He — the one we were trying to lure to us — whoever that was — was a Niki Lauda fan. While I knew about Niki Lauda, this revelation only deepened my confusion. But, wanting to belong, I spouted Niki Lauda info that I knew. Niki Lauda, young scion of a wealthy family. Getting a loan to go racing. Racing in the seventies and eighties. Three time Formula 1 world champion. Big accident, almost killed. Retired from racing, had a failed business, Lauda Air, returned to racing. Also raced BMWs, didn’t he?
Wasn’t sure about that last but saying these things earned a greater measure of trust from the other four. We decided that we needed to rest. There was one bed. The five of us got into it together and rested, shoulder to shoulder on our backs, like we were in coffins. None of us slept. We were too keyed. So much remained to be done. What else did we need to do? The time was almost upon us.
I still didn’t know much but I felt better because I was more accepted and included by the rest. One would always pause to ensure that I was there whenever they went off to do something else.
We had some sort of breakthrough. The end was near. Naturally, I didn’t understand. We were so tired and hungry by then. Going to a new location, a venue where a celebration had been held, we stole in to find food and drink. You can’t be in here, we were told. You must leave. But another said, you can come in.
We went in. A woman came over and told us that we must leave. Another came in and told her that we could stay for a few minutes. She also said there was leftovers for us to eat. They had chicken. Would I like chicken?
Yes, I said. They brought me a bucket. Here’s a piece in here for you, I was told. That’s not chicken, I thought as I picked it up. Something about what it was made me not want to eat it. One of the other four said they would eat it, and took it from me. He tore into it. Rabbit, we all realized, it was a fried rabbit breast. Why would they tell us it was chicken? They lied to us.
I shuffled into another place. There, I saw people dressed in very fancy evening dress who’d been present for a celebration. The celebration was over. They were preparing to leave. A server, male, in white coat and black bow tie, brought me a cup and shot glass on a gold tray. He spoke soothingly to me as he poured a clear liquid in the shot glass and espresso into the cup. I told him I couldn’t drink that now. He reassured me, firmly stating, “Oh, you need to drink both of these now.”
I’ve been listening to interviews via podcasts and Youtube for the past two weeks and distilled some essential truths. I knew these but have never paused to write them down. Thought I’d do that today. Here it is, the culmination of a hours of interviews with writers, editors, and agents.
- There’s no thing such as writer’s block. I’d concluded that myself long ago but happy to hear other writers acknowledge that. What is often called writer’s block can be insecurity, doubt, a lack of self-confidence, uncertainty about where to go next, and anxiety about how it’s all going. It can also just be a mental pause to allow your mind to work things out, re-balance, and find the new direction. I never worry it, just monitor it, like a pot that’s boiling, waiting for the right moment for the next move. Meanwhile, I’ll usually work on some aspect of the novel in parallel. None of this is particularly novel to fiction writing; I had the same issues and followed the same process when I was in the military. Back then, it wasn’t fiction writing, but organizing my mind to create standard operating procedures, emergency checklists, operational plans, performance reviews, etc. The same methodology was employed as a civilian in my roles as a customer service manager, product manager, technical support manager, and analyst.
- You must write everyday. No, breaks ARE permitted. I once believed and fervently followed this. But it can lead to burn out and isolation. Like most things in existence, a balance is required for optimum results. Yet, admittedly, I’m addicted to the writing process. I love imagining what has happened and then chasing the question and answer to what comes next. I enjoy finding new ways of playing with phrases and exploring characters. It’s an entertaining escape.
- Having stated that I don’t need to write every day, I admit, though, that I’m driven to write fiction every day, even if it’s just to add one sentence that suddenly arrives in my head. I never stop writing in my head. I might consciously relegate the current novel in process to a lower priority for a period, but that is usually to permit my brain to address the story and arise with the answer to the question, what next? Besides, even if I’m not doing the novel in process, I’m typically thinking of other stories to write.
- Fiction writing is incredibly immersive. It is for me, but I think writing is a personal matter. How you go about it compare to how I go about it is bound to be different. This list won’t have the same items and slant for you as it does for me.
- There are so many stories to be written, it’s a boundless cornucopia of ideas. The challenge is that they all take time and other resources to develop and complete. Frustrating, fun, and never ending.
- No one else cares about what you’re writing when you’re trying to establish yourself as a writer. Pretty much true, outside of other writers doing the same. In my experience, if this is not true for you, you’re lucky. My family and friends will sometimes ask, “Are you still writing?” The question amuses me. Like, why would I stop? I’ve also learned that I don’t want to share what I’m writing with people when it’s in progress. Excited as I become, I don’t want to jinx it or milk the energy. Besides that, trying to convert what I’m writing, which is meant to be read, into verbal conversation plays tricks with the order of progress. Also, what I had planned often takes unusual spins, so where I thought I was heading takes detours and undergo changes. That’s okay.
- Writers enjoy talking to other writers. Absolutely true for me. I enjoy talking about the process with other writers. Some of that is venting, but I’m also interested in stealing ideas, borrowing habits, and attempting new methods. Unfortunately for me, I’m mostly an introvert, except when plied with alcohol, whereupon I become obnoxious, so going to writer conferences is hit and miss. Sometimes I find a groove with a group there but it’s infrequent enough that I shy away from them now. I did have a writing support group here, but the folks moved away. I considered Zooming with them, but we struggled to find a common time. Lot going on with their families…or so they claimed.
- Writing is a lonely space. Patience and persistence is required.
- Trust yourself. Given the isolation and solitude, this is probably the most challenging for me. I need to write and trust myself — but what if my trust is misplaced? What if I’m so far into my own words that I’m blind to what I’ve written. What if I’m insane and lack talent and ability and don’t realize it? Does it matter if I’m happy writing and striving to translate thoughts into tales?
That’s short of ten. Tell me your writing truths. Help me fill in my list. Cheers
Monday. Just come as you are.
Yes, it’s a Nirvana day.
h/t to Genius.com
“Come as You Are” always spoke to a oneness for me. Friend, enemy, memory? These matters become fused, and speaks to trust and messy agendas. “Why are you urging me to come there? What are you up to?”
No, I don’t have a gun.
Enjoy the 1992 offering.
Floofmiliar (floofinition) – 1. A housepet who is a close friend or associate to the people living in the house. 2 Housepets who are friends with one another. 3. A demon in the form of a housepet supposedly attending and obeying a witch.
In use: “Her miniature Collies were more than pets or friends, especially Gin-gin. Gin-gin was her floofmiliar, attending every mood and acting as a confidant. Gin-gin was trustworthy and dependable, and never told anyone the secrets that she knew.”
I recall three dreams from last night.
The most memorable had me with superpowers. Yes, I became known as Time Man.
It started with a gorgeous day and a house being built. Standard construction techniques were being employed, and the footers, floors, and frame were all completed. Don’t know if I had a role in building it, but I remember looking at the house under construction, and walking around it in interest.
I then became aware that a large family were after me. From what I witnessed and overheard, they had superpowers and apparently had established a mission for themselves to corral and stop others with superpowers. Hence, they were after me.
At this point, I didn’t know that I had superpowers, and I don’t know how they discovered it. But now, suddenly being chased by this family of twenty donning costumes, I took off, time-jumping to safety. Why, how did I do that? I wondered after doing that. What exactly had I done?
I figured out that, while remaining on Earth and in the proper era, I’d both traveled in time to a few minutes into the future, and I’d also used PK to transport myself about a mile from where I was. Both of these impressed me.
Some of the superpower family (SPF, in shorthand) found me. I jumped again, going further in time and distance to buy some time (sorry). Exploring my abilities, I found that I had become aware of two arrows of time running in parallel, and that I was using both, but also using the time void between them. (I don’t know how the hell I figured all that out.)
Several SPF found me again. This time, I used my powers to freeze them in time, something that I’d learned that I could do. With them frozen in time, the SPF parents caught up with me. By now, confident in myself and what was going on, I confronted them and explained my powers, and told them that I didn’t plan to be evil, so they shouldn’t be afraid or try to stop me. A lengthy discussion about evil and intentions ensued. Essentially, they argued, how could they trust me, and I countered, then why shouldn’t I try to stop them? I could use their own argument about them. They said they had a history, and I replied, yes, but we’re talking about intentions, and subsequently, about unintended consequences.
About that time, the SPF members I’d time-froze (don’t know what else to call it without more thought) thawed and began moving, and other SPF folks began arriving. Mom and Dad stopped their children and began explaining that an agreement had been made for me to leave them alone and vice versa. Then I went off to play with time and explore my powers.
The dream ended, leaving me feeling, “Wow,” but also amused while wondering, “What the hell was that all about?”
One of the other dreams had to do with Mom and my family. I was having dinner with them. Dinner was being prepared, mostly by Mom and my sisters in the kitchen. The kitchen adjoined the dining and living room areas, creating one space. It wasn’t large, and circe 1960s furniture filled it. For example, the kitchen table and chairs had curved chrome legs. The table top was marbled gray Formica, and the seat cushions were bright red vinyl.
Now let’s get into the weird stuff. A man and his boys had a mirror setup, but there wasn’t any wall between us. We and they pretended to ignore one another while going through parallel activities of preparing our meal and sitting down to eat.
Mom and my sisters began talking, though, and left, surprising me. We hadn’t eaten, the food wasn’t prepared, and they’d left a mess in the kitchen. Vexed by this turn, I cleaned and organized, discovering chicken parts left in plastic bags in dish water in the sink. Mom briefly came by. I told her what I’d found and asked her what she was thinking, but she left without replying. Exasperated, I continued cleaning, and then prepared the meal. I waited for the others but when they didn’t show, I sat down to eat what I had.
I was sitting opposite the man and his son. They were white, both with dark hair. Taciturn and glum, the man appeared to be in his mid-forties. He was overweight and slovenly in appearance, with a flannel shirt over a white tee-shirt, and he hadn’t shaved. His son seemed to be about ten.
At this point, we were eating but not paying attention to each other, but I couldn’t help but surreptitiously note what was going on and observe. While doing that, I saw his son doing something, but I can’t recall what it was. However, I told the boy a better way to do it.
He and I looked at the father for a reaction. After a few minutes, while putting food on a plate, the man said without looking at the boy or me, “Listen to him, and do what he says. He knows what he’s doing.”
The dream ended.
It seems like a strange place for a destination for a writer living in Oregon, but that’s where I was going in my dream.
It began as a confused melange of chaotic colors. A story emerged. I was with my wife, and a friend, Mark (not his real name), and his wife. We’d survived something and had come together. Now we were going to Hartford, CT. Then we’d fly out of there. I don’t know where we were flying to.
I said, “Okay, I know the way. Follow me.”
My wife and I got in our car and started driving. Mark and his wife were in an eighteen-wheeler truck. Mark drove. His truck was glossy black with neon green trim. At first, I was leading, but coming up on two other eighteen-wheelers, I became stuck behind them. Mark passed us. The three trucks were aligned across the highway, blocking all three lanes. All three trucks were painted the same color and style, glossy black with neon green trim.
I managed to pass them with some aggressive driving. The highway entered a woods and then became an unpaved rough path that grew fainter and narrower. We finally stopped because it seemed like the wrong way, and we couldn’t go on.
Meeting up with Mark, he said, “I have GPS. I’ve mapped out the way. Follow me.”
I said, “Where are we going?” I knew we’d said Hartford, Connecticut, before, but it seemed odd.
“Hartford, Connecticut,” Mark said.
“Why Hartford, Connecticut?” I said.
Mark laughed. “Don’t worry. We’re going to fly out of there. Trust me.”
We drove in our vehicles, me following him. In a surprisingly short time, we stopped. We weren’t in Hartford, Connecticut, but in someplace we’d stay until we could go on. My wife went ahead with Mark and his wife while I stayed behind to help a homeless person, chatting with them while giving them food and money.
Then I went to the hotel. I told the desk agent who I was and who I was looking for, but they knew me, and said we were already checked in. I prepared to pay, but they told me it was all already paid for, and showed me into a luxury suite. It was gorgeous, with a private dining area for the suites on that floor that was on a balcony overlooking an amazing vista. That’s where my companions were sitting and chatting.
Mark had it all arranged. All I needed to do was to trust and follow him. I agreed to do that.
After buying some food for our trip, we departed. Two cats traveled with me. Sometimes they were in a kennel, but sometimes they wandered about freely. It seemed like we were traveling in our suite at that point, confusing me. I’d get in my car to drive, but the entire place would go, not requiring me to do anything but trust Mark. My wife and I socialized with him and his wife.
His wife had a birth defect that left her without feet. Instead of feet, her legs ended in two knuckles that she walked around on. She had several animals, too.
An issue emerged with her. She was eating soldiers. As this hubbub arose, I rushed to learn what was going on, and to basically get involved. What she actually ate were small plastic soldiers. While it appalled me because they were plastic, probably didn’t taste good, and lacked nutritional value, I defended her against the rest, and they agreed. They didn’t like it but she wasn’t doing anything wrong.
After that, I fed my cats and found several extra sandwiches that I’d bought for the trip. They were in my car, in a compartment made to hold them. The sandwiches were of the kind called submarine sandwiches, or subs, like I bought at G.C. Murphy’s when I was a child. I didn’t eat the sandwiches, because I had food, but hung onto the sandwiches to eat them later.
That’s where it all ended, giving me a lot to think about on my walks today. We were still enroute to Hartford, Connecticut. It was the place to go, according to Mark, and we’d get there, if I just trusted him.
I’ve already taken some ideas from it. Chiefly, Mark is my muse, and I need to quit second-guessing him. If I do, I’ll get where I want to go.
Hartford, Connecticut? It’s not a matter of the name of the place, but rather a destination that I don’t know. It’s named, but it’s a surprise.
There was another dream, but I feel too exhausted from thinking and writing about that one to go into now. I’ll write about it another time.