confessions / dreams / voices in my head / writing

The Dreams You Have When You’re Dreaming

I found this very inspiring yesterday: “Leap and the Net Will Appear.”

Last night, feeling worn out in anticipation, I slept. I went to bed at ten o’clock. While I was sleeping, a text message came in from someone who’s been so supportive of me and my writing over the months in surprising, wonderful ways. Her text showed she’d been thinking of my book. It was wonderful to wake up and find it this morning.

But first, I slept.

I slept longer than I should.

I slept, telling myself this is the last Sunday I could ever sleep in.

I slept as if my whole world was about to be shaken up and I’d get tossed around with it. Which I guess it is, and which I guess I will.

While sleeping, I had a dream in which I decided to go swimming in a pool. In daylight, naked. And everyone was watching—my family, and the gang of outlaws we were somehow trying to get away from—and it wasn’t until I’d walked in up to my neck that I realized the water wouldn’t hide anything. That it was broad daylight and the water was crystal clear. I felt so exposed, the perfect target. And I kept my back to them, and I wondered: How will I get out now?

I woke before I did.

I had another dream, the kind of waking dream where you’re in bed but not fully asleep any longer, and so your conscious mind sticks its fangs in you and gets you thinking. In this dream there was this writer I know of in real life, a writer whose success I’ve been aware of. In the dream she didn’t speak to me. I watched her from a distance. I thought: Good things have started to happen to me, but nothing like that. And I thought, So I’ll just have to work harder. Like we were in a race she didn’t even bother running in. She was so sure she’d made it, she didn’t have to run.

And when I woke I wanted to smack myself for the thoughts. For comparing. For even thinking her life has anything at all to do with mine. Because it doesn’t. The worst thing you can do is compare yourself to other writers, the things you’ve been given to the things they’ve been given. She is not me, I am not her, my book is mine, and her book is hers. I hate to think I have thoughts like that, that they fill up my mind and enter my dreams.

But there are some things I thought while dreaming and half-dreaming this morning that I want to take with me: I do feel exposed now, the perfect target. But I feel all the more determined to work harder.

Now back in to this chapter I’m writing, where—funny little coincidence—my character is about to dive into a pool. Should I let her keep her clothes on?

6 thoughts on “The Dreams You Have When You’re Dreaming

  1. I have very vivid dreams and am in the midst of a dream regarding a future event yet to transpire – the other parts of the dream have come to pass. The events were clear and unmistakable in this case and in a particular sequence but without a time reference. I have discovered something in my dreaming: The interesting things about dreams is what they don’t tell you.

    For instance,
    1. You were getting exposure
    2. You were not getting attacked
    3. The discomfort was in your mind

    You wrote a piece in 2006 about many-voices (which is how I wound up here) and would like to comment. I think it is important in beginning a writing project to decide if you are going to be an artist or a professional. If you are being an artist, stick to your guns and self-publish if necessary to get the information out. The appropriate people will find you.

    If you are being a professional, write whatever makes the sales. Profit is the bottom line.

    Change your mind with good reason, but never doubt yourself.

    • Thanks, Hassan!

      I just went back and looked at that post. This one, right?

      I’ll tell you which voice won: The one that said to write something new. I did, and that novel got published. And then I wrote something else and that got a book deal. The novel I wrote that post about in 2006 was not revised — and it is still under my couch. I did not self-publish it.

      I feel sad reading about how much I loved it then. Now, with perspective, I can see how flawed it was and I’m relieved I didn’t spend more time trying to get it published, but it’s still sad to read. Thank you for pointing me back to that time — it’s so interesting to see how things in my life have changed!

  2. Nova, I wanted to drop by and leave you a note about something that my daughter said at the dinner table tonight. We were talking about what to name our new bull and chose a name that Charlotte Otter, a blogging friend, had suggested via Facebook. This jogged my 12-year-old daughter out of her reverie, for she is reading Dani Noir at the moment, and is about 75% through the book now.

    “Is that the same blogging friend who wrote Dani Noir?!” she demanded. “No, this is a different blogger who writes. Why?”

    “Because this is the best book I’ve ever read!”

    I was startled, because she’s read all the Harry Potter books as well as many great children’s classics; this sort of praise comes from a kid who is entirely enthralled by a book. I was so surprised that I asked what she liked about it, and here’s a close representation of what she and her twin sister said (they’re sharing the book and have both read about the same amount of the book and should finish it this week):

    “I love this book because Dani is a lot like me. She has to make moral choices, and some people don’t believe her. Even her mom doesn’t believe her, but she’s telling the truth. She’s very realistic and it makes you feel like you know her. Plus, the story is realistic too, not full of silly childish things or things that seem unlikely. I JUST LOVE IT! … Does she have any other books I could read?”

    When she got to the part where she said “Dani is a lot like me,” her twin chimed in and said, “No, she’s a lot like ME!” and they both laughed. I asked if what they meant (besides the obvious twin joke) was that Dani was a character with whom a lot of 12-year-old girls could identify, and both said yes. They added that her problems and challenges are real and therefor realistic.

    So. Since your audience is this particular audience, I thought you’d want to know that the real consumers of your work in this part of the country love your book. My girls are very well read and read at post high-school level, so they’re no slouches when it comes to children’s literature up to adult level literature. They read everything popular after I screen it (hey, you have to do it), but with your book I let them read before doing much screening (trust, baby, trust).

    In two words, Nova: keep writing.

    • Eve, I❤ you for sharing this with us and mostly, with Nova! See Nova? Your readers are waiting for your next book. So be brave, and write your heart out, for them if not for yourself.🙂

    • Eve,

      This is one of the best blog comments I have ever gotten, ever in my life, EVER! I don’t even know what else to say.

      Please tell your daughters how thrilled I am!

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