Posts Tagged ‘dreaming’


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Nine months ago, something happened that I’d been working very long and hard for: Beautiful Monster got published. It was picked up by Damnation Books, a wonderful publisher in California that I absolutely adore. There was much to be excited about as Monster went through the process of publication, and I didn’t want to waste any time. I immediately started planning my future as a writer. I began revising The White Room, a manuscript I wrote before Beautiful Monster which needed some work before being an acceptable candidate for publication. On top of this, I began an equally exciting top-secret side project—that I can’t really get into at this point—that I’m totally stoked about. Things were going swimmingly—my days and nights absorbed in the fictional worlds of my own creation—until, about three months ago, something else happened: I hit a brick wall. And it wasn’t writer’s block.

This brick wall was far scarier than writer’s block because at least there are things you can do to lubricate a stubborn story. What I faced was something I never expected to: doubt… and not the doubt that I could be a writer—that’s a given—but the doubt that I wanted to be a writer.

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So, I stopped writing—which given my life circumstances at the time—wasn’t all that hard. I was in the middle of moving—again—and I’d met some fascinating writers from the old-school who made me feel like one of them. It was easy to coast for a while, but in truth, I wasn’t coasting at all. I was thinking. I was wondering how, after so many years of dreaming of this, of working toward this, I could possibly feel this way once those dreams were finally coming true. But that’s where I was at, and it wasn’t very fun.

After a while, the people around me started asking questions. They wanted to know why I wasn’t writing. I never told them the truth. I didn’t want to be influenced in any way because I knew this was something I needed to figure out for myself. I was working, just not in any way that was visible. In those months, I produced nothing that would help my career in any way, but I did strip down the layers of who I am, and I did figure a few things out.

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I figured out that the glitter is gone, the shine has dulled, and reality has cast its shadow over the dream. I have a different understanding of what it means to be a writer now—it’s not a better understanding—just a different understanding. I figured out that writing is—in truth—a lot of time spent sitting in front of a computer. It’s picking up the thousands of little pieces of a scattered story and spending hours, days, weeks, and months trying to fit them together in the most cohesive, relatable—and salable—way. It’s sacrificing a lot of time with friends and family. It’s being asked outright in public settings how much money you make. It’s work. It’s a daily decision to sit down and create something that may or may not ever even see the light of day. It’s the choice to devote a lot of time and effort to an entirely unknown outcome. It’s a risk.

I realized that the glamour of being a writer—if there ever was any—doesn’t shine quite as brightly as the world would like to believe. I’ve met my heroes, and they’ve now become my friends—people I talk to on the phone, exchange emails with, and discuss the most tedious details of my life with. This doesn’t make them unglamorous, this simply makes them real. It makes all of this real—and that’s not a bad thing—it’s just a different thing.

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In the beginning, when this was still a dream, I made some conscious choices. I would steer clear of any unattainable expectations. I would not put anyone on a pedestal or hold my heroes to superhuman standards… and in truth, I’m neither disenchanted by the path nor in any way disappointed in anyone I’ve met. But the dream, as it manifests into reality, is grating and unsettling… it feels a little like walking off a ledge. It made me decide I needed to take stock. I needed to step back and look at writing from a realistic perspective. I needed to then ask myself if this was ultimately going to make me very happy. So, that’s what I did… and the past couple weeks have finally brought things into enough focus that I can proceed in what I’m confident is the right direction.

Ultimately, nothing has changed for me except my approach to it. The dream is still intact. Somehow, I still want this, but now I know that only the love of this—and nothing else—is strong enough to withstand the demands and lack of certainty that writing requires. There isn’t enough ego to uphold this—there isn’t enough money to justify it—and there isn’t enough comfort to sustain it. But at the core of who I am, this is what I do—what I’ve always done—and it gets me closer to happiness than anything ever has before. And perhaps the greatest persuasion has been the incredible and unbearable gnawing, gnashing need to write even when I’ve given myself permission to break from it for a while. If nothing else, this has slowly convinced me that my writing days are far from being over. I’ve made some great self-discoveries these past months, but that hasn’t stopped the stories from tumbling in, the characters from blathering on, or the fingers from seeking the keys.

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I now have what I believe is a deeper, more accurate understanding of being a writer. It’s not pretty anymore, but it’s mine, and it’s real. I’ve learned that even when I’m “not” writing, I’m still writing, and so—at the risk of sounding melodramatic—how can I possibly not write? I can’t, but I do have a choice in how I proceed. I can either gather up the scattered pieces of story, glue them all together, and try to make something out of this that matters… or I can return to the days when jotted-down descriptions, disjointed dialogue, and fragmented portions of plot and poetry haunted me from hundreds of loose scraps of paper that invaded and overran any space within ten feet of me.

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For me, that choice is clear. After giving my soul a thorough strip-search, I’m realizing there isn’t really anything else I can do and be happy. The dream may be over now… the real world may have settled in… but there are still stories to be told.

And I’ll do my best to tell them.

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~I’m older this time…

Wiser than I was the last time I walked these narrow halls

 And roamed these careless rooms

Where nothing of my own surrounds me…

Again.

The ghost of the other me–the younger me–

The me who caught the dream by its wings and trapped it in a mason jar…

That me drifts down the corridors of this towering house

And presses tight against the walls,

Merging with the darkest shadows of the unkempt, lamp-lit den,

And unfolds only in those fleeting, fugitive moments

Just before the bloom of sunrise licks the tips of the mountains~

As if to remind me

Of the thousands of days gone by

Since I was still

And dreaming for the sake of dreaming.

Thousands of days.

My eyes crinkle when I smile now,

And silver’s deft and silent fingertips have found the cleft of my chin.

 I don’t remember when I last anticipated the morning,

Or smiled back at my past-tense self

As we passed on the stairs.

And inspiration comes hard these days…

I write ~

But it’s not about me anymore…

It’s about you now.

Maybe it always was.

But this is what I wanted.

Yesterday,

I dreamed my heart hollow.

Today,

I pushed the dream down without even enough affection or care

To check it for a pulse.

And tomorrow,

Maybe then I’ll wake up…

But tonight…

I don’t want to dream anymore.

~June 19th, 2013~


    

     I don’t believe it’s possible to not be creative.  While some people may deem themselves “artists”, and others may think they don’t have a creative bone in their bodies, the only difference between these two groups, in my opinion, is their opposing senses of self-perception. But the truth is, we are human and we create… whether we mean to, whether we want to… or not.

     I’ve come to believe that, with or without our consent, the mind refuses to not be creative in some form or another, and that if creativity is suppressed, it will find whatever cracks it can to seep through and get the message to us. One of the most fascinating ways the mind tricks us into being creative is through our dreams.

     I read an article a while back in which Stephenie Meyer said that one night she had a dream about a girl in a forest with a boy. The girl was heartbroken and didn’t know what to do because she was in love with him but knew they couldn’t be together because he was a vampire and she was human. When she woke up, she wrote down what she could remember from the dream, and then started asking questions like how did the couple get into the forest, and where were they going from there. And that is how the whole Twilight series began.

     I have a friend who is a writer and he gets many of his ideas from a recurring dream where he is in a bookstore. In the dream, he is surrounded by books he has never seen or heard of. He browses books and reads the premise on the back covers, then when he wakes up, he takes those ideas and begins writing them.

    My own dreams generally make little to no sense, but once in a while, I dream something that either solves a major problem in my story for me, or gives me an entirely new story idea, proving to me that being uncreative is not possible. One dream in particular stands out to me as a good example of how the mind’s need to be creative imposes its will upon us.

     In this dream, I was in a monster-sized Barnes and Noble. I say monster-sized because it had to have been a thirty story building, and it was full of books. Rows and rows of books. Wall to wall, ceiling to floor books. It was beautiful. But that’s beside the point. I was sitting near a window at a small table by myself. I knew I was waiting for someone, but I didn’t know who. For some reason, in this dream anyway, that made perfect sense.

     A boy approached my table. I guess he wasn’t a boy really, but more of a young man. I remember looking up and being a bit stunned by this guy’s ornamental appearance. He had curly blond hair, eerily flawless skin, perfect teeth, and he seemed to exist inside a golden globe of light that somehow radiated from inside him. I knew this was the person I had been waiting for.

    The guy sat down and introduced himself. He told me his name was Alejandro. I remember being a little confused by his name. He didn’t look like an “Alejandro” to me, but whatever, I figured~ not my business. He was very cordial and smiled at me non-stop. He reached into a bag that he had apparently brought with him and pulled out a few sheets of paper that were stapled together. I looked it over and realized it was a resume of sorts.

    At some point, I realized I was giving this guy some sort of employment interview. He seemed eager to get the job, and although I don’t remember specifics, he went into a long monologue about his experience and the ways it would benefit me if I hired him. As he spoke, I noticed he had golden halos around the irises of his eyes. I asked him about them and he told me he was an angel who wanted to be the star character in my next story.

     I don’t remember anything else that we talked about; the details of the conversation were lost as soon as I woke up, but I guess I must have decided to “hire him”, because about a week later, I got this great idea about an angel whose original  mission is intercepted, landing him in a trailer park in Podunk, America where he must learn what it means to interact as a human, to help others as a human, and above all, to find and maintain his faith as a human.

     This dream was one of the most compelling and fascinating moments in my life. I would have never thought the mind, especially when unconscious, could conjure up and direct such effective methods of creative execution. Since dreaming this, I have looked deeper into the phenomenon of dreams and have found an astounding number of artists and creators who have pulled details from a dream and made it into something tangible in the waking world.

     All human beings are artists;  just being alive makes you an artist in your own right. I believe that the human mind will stop at nothing to find an outlet for creativity and that eventually, that need for creativity will stop taking no for an answer, and one way or another, whether conscious or unconscious, we will all be forced, by one means or another, to leave tangible strands of our inherent, creative DNA on the face of this planet. Creating is not our talent. It is not our right and it isn’t even our duty. Creating is our nature.

     Write on, and…