Dream, Memory, Real Life, Words, Writing

Oh, let me swim in that river

When I was a wee thing, my Aunt Helen taught me to swim in Kinniconick Creek near my grandparents’ home in Lewis County, Kentucky. I didn’t like the feel of the occasional fish sucking at my toes, so she let me swim in my tennis shoes. Entering the cool green shade after the long, hot walk was like crossing over into a secret world. I remember the echoing click-clack of the dry stone under my feet, the careful negotiation over the slippery wet stone, the plip-plip-plip-plip-plop of a stone, flung by an older cousin, skipping over the water’s surface. Magical.

Unfortunately, the terror of a near-drowning experience a few years later in a public swimming pool in Indianapolis, Indiana ended my swimming days. However, I still dream that I can swim.

Each dream scenario is different, but the exhilaration I feel when I realize I’m swimming is always the same. I’m surprised to discover I’m swimming, but it’s obvious I can, so I do. With less effort than the action should warrant, I glide through the cool water. I feel no sense of the panic, the breathlessness, that accompanies my being in or even near deep water in real life.

That dream sensation is the same one I feel when my writing goes well. I swim effortlessly down that river of words. I’m joyfully swept away, the sun warming my head, the water cooling my body. At times, my strokes are powerful, carrying me a long distance in no time. Sometimes I tread water, gazing around, soaking up the view, listening, thinking until I’m ready to swim some more. When tired, I float, eyes closed, waiting for renewed strength, and then I flip over and set off again.

It’s been awhile, but I think I hear the splash and babble of water again. I feel the change in the air temperature. I’m so close I can feel the stones under my feet. How long, how deep is this river? I don’t know, but it’s time to dive in. See you at The End.

Doubt, Dream, Goals, Reflections, Writing

This writer is looking forward

Looking back at my life during the past year, I can see losses and gains, but I can’t yet judge the long-term effects. Every year at this time, psychics make predictions for the coming year. I have no such gift. I can only make resolutions, affirming to myself and all, my intent for the future.

New beginnings are hopeful. This year I’m excited about opportunities to advance in my writing and publishing career. One change I hope to make that will affect not only my writing, but my life in general is obtaining—and maintaining—a balance.

In 2011, I neglected not only the usual housework, but gardening as well. I don’t think my roses will survive another year of the same kind of neglect. In general, I spent too much time in my cave. Since my 2012 plans include publishing one book and writing another, it’s imperative that I improve my time management.

This doesn’t mean I’m creating spreadsheets, but it does mean I’ll be working to conquer my habit of letting doubt (fear) derail my writing. In 2011, I probably wasted a good 30% of my writing time hand-tied by indecision. I vow not to let that happen in this next year. I will boldly write what no woman has written before.

In her recent blog post When You Allow Others to Decide Your Dreams, Michelle Davidson Argyle said:

“Nobody’s goals and rules are ever going to match up to my own on the unique path I’m on. Even if I met all those goals I see floating around online on so many blogs and Facebook statuses and Twitter feeds, I still wouldn’t be happy because I would not have met the deepest desires of my own heart …”

And this:

“I think we authors often forget what we really want. I think we often delude ourselves into thinking we want what everyone else wants, and it’s creating this insane sense of urgency in our heads. We pump out our work faster and harder and less carefully than we would otherwise. We feel pressured, more than anything else, to meet certain criteria, follow the lists and rules and advice others post, and it hurts us deeply when we can’t meet that criteria at breakneck speed. For me, at least, this urgency transformed itself into an energy-sucking, emotionally-draining need.

Until I realized that for me it was an illusion and unnecessary.”

Michelle expressed my dilemma. My lack of self-confidence leads me to compare everything I do to what other writers do, seeking a stamp of approval. At best, that works only temporarily. Sooner or later, doing what others did leads to frustration, doubt, fear because their plan, their path, their dream doesn’t “fit” me.

Let me toast to the New Year. New beginnings. New opportunities. Another chance to get it right.

In 2012, I vow to follow MY dreams. What about you?

Characters, Dream, Fiction, Short story, Writing

It’s YA and bleak! Why the heck am I writing this story?

I’m writing a story unlike any I’ve written before. It’s sort of YA dystopian. I didn’t ask for this story, I dreamed it. Actually, it was too intense to call a dream, so let’s call it a nightmare—the kind you force yourself to wake from because you’re too afraid to see the end.

Is it that intense on paper? No. At least, not yet. This has been my first attempt at writing without any preliminary writing—no crucial scenes pre-written, no dialogue already recorded. I don’t like writing first drafts. I know in my head where the story is going, but since I haven’t written the climactic scene, it’s driving me nuts not knowing if it’s going to turn out well. Yet, I keep plugging away.

This story has already gone through major changes. I’ve altered the original ending, which I sensed, but didn’t actually see, in my dream. I made that decision because I realized early that this was not a story about a girl; this was a girl’s story. I needed to tell it all from her point of view.

I’m eons way from my teen years. It’s not easy for me to get deep into the mindset of a 15 year-old girl. I have teen-aged granddaughters, so I’m not totally out of that world, but still …

So, yeah. That’s what I’m working on. I’m trying to ignore that inner critic asking me what makes me think I can write this story … or pointing out how much time I’ll have wasted when it fails. Someday I’m going to make her the victim in a violent tale.

Your turn: What sort of challenges do you set for yourself?

Advice, Craft, Dream, Fiction, Imagination, Inspiration, Scene, Tips, Writing

Are you dreaming or writing?

You’ve probably heard the term fictive dream, which is when you as a fiction writer do your job so well that you temporarily transport your reader into your story world. We all hope our books do that, right? But before we can transport anyone else, don’t we have to experience it ourselves?

I believe we do. I’ve written about it often on this blog. Some refer to it as being in the zone. I call it dreaming on paper. This fictive dream is the drug that keeps us addicted to writing.

John Gardner wrote this in On Becoming a Novelist:

“In the writing state—the state of inspiration—the fictive dream springs up fully alive: the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols. The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it, so that when the dream flags he can reread what he’s written and find the dream starting up again. This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things—sees them clearly—and in the act of wondering what they will do next he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.”

When I’m in this dream writing state, I feel the emotion of the scene. My heartbeat has quickened, tears have sprung to my eyes, or I’ve smiled. It’s glorious!

May you all enter this state of inspiration each time you sit down to write.

This post first appeared on this blog in 2009 titled “State of Inspiration”.

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Dream, Fiction, Inspiration, My Books, Novel, Real Life, Writing

Headache Dreams and Novel Thoughts

This winter has been one of the worst for me in terms of physical health. I seem to be a magnet for every virus floating around. These last two started with a headache that wouldn’t go away. I’ve had one for three days this time. The only good thing about it is that it makes for some good dreams … or rather, nightmares.

Night before last, I had one that could evolve into a novel, a thriller. The protagonist would be a fifteen-year-old girl. The book might even be dystopian. Not that I write YA dystopian thrillers. Or YAs. Or dystopians. Or thrillers. But I typed up notes on the scenario. Just in case.

After I woke myself from another nightmare on the first headache night, I lay there thinking about my novel The Brevity of Roses, coincidentally inspired by a dream. A particular scene popped into mind and as I thought about the dialogue in that scene, I was concerned that I’d made an error and vowed to change it in the morning. You know what I’m going to say next, don’t you?

Yep, when morning came, not only could I not remember the exact change I wanted to make. I couldn’t even remember the scene. And I still haven’t. When I’m done with formatting, I’ll read my novel again on my Kindle and I pray when I get to that scene it will all come back to me.

Speaking of Brevity, one of the things I have left to do is double-check one line spoken in Farsi. I asked for help on a language forum and the man who gave me the phonetic translation was a native Farsi speaker, but still I’d like to have a second opinion. So, on the off chance one of you speaks the language, or knows someone who does, here’s the line: Naveye azizam, be harfe delat gush kon.

Your turn: Have your dreams or nightmares inspired any stories for you?


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