Killer of Dreams

Writing is a hard business.  Not just the publishing end of it, but getting down in front of the computer or your typewriter, or even your paper, and you gotta put those words down, one after another, and you keep doing it until you finish the damn thing.  Start, write, finish.  That’s the deal.

Sometimes, however, that becomes easier said than done.  Things wear at you; things tear you down.  We all know stories about authors who are just one step away of completely losing they minds–or, in the case of a few, having lost it completely and they decided to write though the madness.

That’s how I’ve felt for a while; that I was writing though some madness that wouldn’t leave me alone.  It just gnawed at me like a beast picking you apart slowly but surely.

And last week it nearly won.

I had a hard time of things last Friday, and was pretty much at my wit’s end for more than a few things.  It was a tough time, and if not for the help of a lot of friends who came to my aid, I might still be rolling through that madness.

I haven’t forgotten what happened, and I’m truly moving ahead to make things better.  But last night . . . I had some thoughts I had to get out.  Thoughts that weren’t going to stay quite any longer.

I’ve been playing with video a lot of late, and getting some of the things I’ve said uploaded to a YouTube account.  I’ve had fun it with, because it’s a different medium and there’s things that come out on video that you can’t hide unless you’re a very good actor.  I’m not a very good actor; when it comes to my emotions, things tend to come spilling out these days, because hormones jack with you like you wouldn’t believe.

I put a twelve minute video together last night, after the television and computer were off, and talked a little about the state of mind I’ve labored under for a while.  It’s a hard video; there’s a lot of feeling in my voice, there’s true feelings coming out, and more than a few tears come out.  I don’t mind that last, because tears are good.  They mean I can’t hold back, and given how things keep welling up inside these days, I don’t want to keep them in.  I gotta let them out.

Jim Butcher was the one who, a few years ago, said giving up on writing is the same as killing your dreams, and there are no truer words spoken.  I mention that in the video, and you can see how it makes me feel to think about doing just that.  It’s a thing I’ve done before, and I know others have as well.  I’m a firm believer these days that dreams should never die, because without your dreams, what do you have left?

Watch if you like, but be warned:  it’s pretty raw.  That’s how stream of thought is–it’s real, and it just comes at you.

Like life.

But if it helps other writers out there articulate what they also feel from time-to-time, then I’ve done something good.

That’s what really counts.

Where the Wild Feels Are

A funny thing happened on the way to the hormone treatment . . .

Let’s back that up just a little bit, because most of this happened long before I started hormones, long before I started writing.  Actually, it started when I was a kid.  I was what you’d say, “emotional.”  That’s what parents say when you cry a lot.  And I used to cry a lot.  Like all the time.  Stub my toe?  I’d cry.  Didn’t like what I was wearing?  I’d cry.  Weather changed?  I’d cry.  Though I loved the rain.  I loved to take walks in the rain, because it was so relaxing . . .

There are some who’d read that and say, “Wow!  Sounds just like a girl.”  Duh.  You’re catching on, aren’t you?  Yeah, that was one of those things, back when I was about seven or eight, when I realized that, in the immortal words of Micheal Jackson, I’m not like the other boys.  It used to drive my parents nuts.  My father hatted it, and my mother–well, she didn’t like it, either, and used to yell at me all the time to stop “acting like a girl.”  And, hey:  it worked!  Oh, wait . . .

The upside of all this marvelous treatment was a lot of depression and teaching myself to keep my emotions locked down.  Because one never knew when I might just bust loose with a laugh or a sob or a smile or a cry.  This was the sort of hell I went through in high school, and then later on in adult life.

I got to the point where I was “emotionally unavailable,” which is another way of saying I just shut everything down.  And because of that, I was always pairing up with people who were either the same way–or, as a person once pointed out, a lot like my mother in that they were critical of everything I did.  I was not good with relationship; I was not good with telling people how I felt.  To a certain extent I’m still like that in that I’m a private person–says the blogger spilling this all out at six-thirty AM.

About 2011 this all started changing.  Why?  Because I decided to start talking about my “secret” and I finally came out to a friend.  And they didn’t run away.  Another thing was happening then:  I was getting in touch with my emotions once again, which was a double-edge sword, because while it’s easy to talk of love and happiness, you can also fall into the pit next door which is sadness and pain.  But it’s all worth it, because, in the end, you’re feeling again.  You’re not some semi-dead hunk of flesh sitting in front of a computer waiting for the end to arrive sooner than later.  You’re alive; you’re writing again.

That’s really what opened up my writing:  being able to feel.  You can only pretend to write about people in relationships with other people for so long and not feel what that’s like before you understand that what’s coming out of you are words devoid of passion.  They are dead, just like the person writing them.

I’ve had people tell me that they love the romance developing between Annie and Kerry.  I’ve already said it’s a grand one, and it’s one that will build in time.  Last night I was thinking of a scene for Act Three, and while I realized that some people who’d read it would think, “Are you crazy to say this?” I don’t think it’s strange at all.  It’s sweet, it’s touching–and at the same time, it’s torturing a person who is deeply in love.  Because it’s what happens sometimes.  And why are they tortured?  Because they’re afraid they’re pulling someone all the way into their love in a way they might not want.

That's the problem with knowing people in supernatural stories:  you put someone in your heart, and before you know it, you're afraid they don't want to be there.

That’s the problem with love in supernatural stories: you put someone in your heart, and before you know it, you’re afraid they don’t want to be there.

I’ve come to realize over the last week or so that my emotional responses are changing again.  They’re not going away:  oh, no.  They’re dialing up; they’re getting more intense.  They’re also becoming what I might call a bit more personal and even maternal.  The one thing I have noticed, and it’s something I confirmed through research–my stress levels are not defined by my job or by money:  they’re defined by my relationships.  Or lack there of if you wanna put it that way.  But the thing that make me the most loopy these days is love.  I do feel it:  for my characters and for myself.  You can blame it on the demon lady hormones taking over my body.

My therapist says I’m tortured–probably just like a certain person in a monster of a novel I’m writing.  I’m not as bad as that, but I will admit to crying before falling asleep, and crying as I was getting up?  Why?  Because I love someone.  They mean the world to me.  They are the person I would die for if the zombies were coming and she needed saving.

But they are not with me, not at the moment.

Will that happen?

You have to wait and see.  You never know what will happen tomorrow.

But I believe you already!

Don’t worry:  I believe you.

Girlfriend in My Pillow

First, the writing thing.  Though there was a bit of a struggle with the writing–motivations just weren’t what they should have been–I managed to squeak out a little over nine hundred and forty words in my newly added scene.  This did some interesting things to the word count–while the count for Act Two is now hovering just before forty-nine thousand, five hundred words, the count for the full manuscript hit a new milestone . . .

Yeah, two hundred thousand.  That could almost be the title for a Stargate episode.

Yeah, two hundred thousand. That could almost be the title for a Stargate episode.

I’ve only passed into the territory once before, and there’s a very good likelihood that this novel is going to surpass that other novel by some distance.  Just gotta keep going, moving forward, and remember that the next scene is gonna involve some math.  Just for me, though:  you won’t see it.  Science, bitches:  it makes writing better.  Or so I’m told.

Let’s put that behind me, though, because there’s something on my mind, something bothering.  Probably because I know the true meaning of what happened . . .

I’ve written a few times about how I’ve felt my dreams were either sadly lacking or simply non-existent.  Some of that has to do with my sleep habits, which are, frankly, pretty sucky.  It seems like if I don’t go to bed late and sleep for six hours straight, I wake up kind of out of it the next day.  Or for several days afterwards.

However . . . the last week or so the dreams have come back strong and with a vengeance.  Exceedingly vibrant as well.  Like last night, it seemed like I was spending a lot of time going to a job that I didn’t walk, and that it was cold and snowy in July, and when I arrived as said word someone tried to take the keys to my car, and I ended up breaking their arm to keep that from occurring.

It was Friday morning, however, that really hit me hard . . .

I’ve been in situations where I can’t tell if I’m truly asleep or not.  It’s like a waking dream; I know something’s going, I know I’m seeing something, but am I just thinking these things, or am I stuck in a dream so vivid that it feels like I’m awake?

Whatever I was feeling Friday morning, it doesn’t really matter.  What I felt was having a woman I’ve known for years, rolling over in bed next to me, saying good morning, honey, you’re up early, then leaning in close to me to plant a good morning kiss.  I leaned in close to receive said kiss and give her one of my own . . .

And that’s when I realized I was alone in bed.  Not only that, but my left hand was slowly rubbing the pillow I keep there to hug when I go to sleep.  I broke into sobbing, and it took me a good thirty minutes before I was able to drift off to sleep once more.

Unlike this young lady, I'm rarely smiling when I'm doing this.

Unlike this young lady, I’m rarely smiling when I do this.

With the return of the dreams have come the return of the emotions.  April was a bad time for feelings, and there were a lot of crying jags.  Tomorrow starts the first of my hormone treatments, or as some might say, “Welcome to Puberty 2.0!” and I have a feeling the next month or two are going to be crazy times at the casa.

Add to this a lot of heart string tugging on my part . . .

I can get through it.  Just takes a little perseverance, right?

Entering the Big Empty

Let’s just set the bar right now:  yesterday was a miserable day.  I needed to do a lot of running around for one, and that really kept me away from the keyboard.  While I managed to hunt down all the medical prep stuff that I’ll need very soon, and I found a great camera tripod for $50 that I think will come in very handy for me in the future, it also meant that by the time I did all this, and covered lunch, it was close to two before I rolled back to the apartment–

The apartment with no A/C, I should mention.  It crapped out Friday evening.  Friday and Saturday weren’t bad, but yesterday was getting kinda nasty inside, so I had to break down and pick up a high powered tower fan.  It’s keeping me cool at the moment, though once the air starts to stagnate in here, it’s probably going to blow a lot of hot air around.  I’m hoping that after I make my call to the management this morning, they’ll get this probably fixed in a reasonable amount of time.

I also fell asleep reading a book, which is more than likely why I was first up at four AM before drifting off into a fitful sleep–one that was marred by some strange dreams beforehand.  I swear, where are the nice dreams I used to have?  Now it’s all about people ignoring me, and telling me I can’t buy things, and so forth and so on.  And in one case being flat out ignored by someone.

Where are the dreams where I’m asked, “Were you found in a compromising position with a woman who you adore?”  And my answer is . . .

But of course!

But of course!

When I came time to writing I was pretty much out of it, about to fall asleep–and I pushed it hard to get the four hundred and seventy-seven words I show you below, where the kids come into the totally empty Dining Hall after their night class.  Good or bad, it’s all there.  Enjoy as I check out into my own big empty . . .

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Entering the Dining Hall at just past twenty-two hours, Kerry felt, for the first time, the size of the room. He’d seen The Great Hall empty before: during his first night here, before and after taking Annie to the hospital, on a couple of occasions after Astronomy Class, when Annie and he had walked through the Rotunda on their way to the tower instead of taking the Pentagram Wall passage between Åsgårdsreia and Cernunnos, and during the aftermaths of the Midnight Madness.

But he’d never been in the Dining Hall late of night when it was empty. He’d wandered into the hall when it was nearly empty during the day, but those moments didn’t carry as much weight as now, with Wednesday leading her seven students into the hall after the completion of Advanced Spells. Now it struck Kerry like a large, dark cave room, full of darkness and shadows and subdued echoes.

He didn’t find it frightening or intimidating at all: he found it fascinating. The room was one of the oldest sections of the entire school, and Kerry could almost imagine what it was like here, over three hundred years ago, maybe with people sleeping here, or doing some late-night studying, or having a conversation with another students while sharing a midnight snack—

Though he doubted very much that the room was completely empty like it was now.

This is what made the room different from the times Annie and he departed a Midnight Madness. The sofas and chairs and tables and beds were still present when they walked back to Cernunnos Tower. Now there was nothing but empty space: no tables, no chairs, no podium for the Headmistress to address the students from. Even the fireplace at the north of the room was out.

Wednesday walked towards the center of the room close to the fire place, speaking in a normal tone of voice. “New Advanced Spells configuration, please.” In a matter of sections a sofa, a large armchairs, and two love seats appeared before her, all facing each other across a a low oval table. Wednesday pointed a finger at the fireplace; the wood inside erupted into flames before settling down into a nice, cozy fire.

The students found their seats as Wednesday continued standing, looking as though she was waiting for someone. There was a soft pop as a woman teleported into the room, only a couple of meters from the instructors. “Good evening, Professor.”

“Good evening, Zora.” She nodded towards the students. “Could we have grilled cheese and hot cider?”

“The usual servings?”

“Not tonight.” She pointed at Annie and Kerry sitting together in the love seat. “Some new blood joined us. Make that servings for eight.”

“Have it right out for you, Professor.” Zora vanished as Wednesday turned and headed for the arm chair closest to the fireplace.

 

There you have it.  If I can stay awake tonight–and if the apartment isn’t a hot box–I’ll start getting into something interesting in this scene.  At least I hope it’s interesting–

If not, we could get up and dance.  It won't be a Clone Dance--wait!  We can do that here!

If it’s not, I could have the kids get up and dance. It won’t be a Clone Dance–wait! We can do that at this school!

Alone in Nox

My day is starting off pretty much the wrong way.  Sure, I managed close to a thousand words last night, finishing off a scene where Kerry is having to beg two of his favorite older females to help him with a problem, but that was last night.  Today is today, and it started about four AM.  Which is not cool.

The thing that woke me up was a rather depressing dream.  What happened isn’t very clear:  it seemed like I was boxing up people and preparing to send them somewhere.  Everything was gray and near permanent twilight, and I could tell that I wasn’t happy.  No, not in the least.

Not long after I woke up I started, for no reason at all, thinking about the deaths of my characters.  And then of a scene where one of them gets hurt bad, really torn up, and starts sobbing uncontrollably over the loss of someone close to them.  And then . . .

Well, then I sort of lay in a half-awake, half-asleep state until the alarm went off, and the computer came up, and I started writing this.  The way my mornings almost always start.

"Am I having fun with this blogging thing yet?"

“Am I having fun with this blogging thing yet?  Just askin’, you know?”

Something I realized while lying in bed:  I don’t remember my dreams that much any more.  And when I do, there’s little that’s memorable about them.  Two years ago I used to write a lot about my dreams, because I had some interesting things going on in my head.  I also had some horribly, hellacious stress going on in my life as well, but that’s another story.

But maybe that’s it:  maybe all the stress I felt then caused me to fall back into my dreams to find peace.  And I used to find it; there were all sorts of things I used to encounter there.  I also encountered a soul-sucking blackness once that frightened the hell out of me once I was awake, but you gotta take the bad with the good, right?

These days, however, it seems like none of that happens.  Even with all the stress and pain I feel with my current, long-ass, never-seeming-to-end novel, it never seems as if I find any solace in sleep.  When I do remember anything, it’s all different shades of gray and feelings that nothing right is happening, or ever will happen.  It’s pretty much as if there isn’t much happiness in the waking hours, and that translates over to the Land of Dreams, where goddamn Morpheus is busy playing Battleship with his sister Death, and hasn’t the time to do anything to help out a poor girl.

I used to dream of old Cassidy, the girl I invented before–well, before she became me.  I had dreams of The Monster House before I wrote down notes about how it would make a great story, and that recurring dream never recurred.  The one I miss the most is my Muse.  I never dream of her any more, and she used to be there a lot.  So many times.

Now, nothing.  She’s gone.  Somewhere out there, but not visiting me.  And that leaves me sadder every day.

This might only be something temporary.  Maybe there’s something in The Burg that sucks up all the good energy that leaves you great dream, and all that remains is as gray and semi-lifeless as this place can be at times.

All I know is, I want my dreams back.

It’s not enough to dream about them; it’s everything to live thought them once the lights go out and your eyes close.

Why deny someone a little happiness in their subconscious?

Chestnut Breakdown

It’s Liz Parker Time around the casa once more.  That can only mean one thing:

I’m writing again.

I say I’m always doing something writing related, but now I’m actually back writing.  Slow, yeah, but I’m back.  Nothing new, either–unless you consider a rewrite of an existing scene that needs some tuning up and something added a rewrite, well, I’ll take it.  I’ve sections of Act One that are in need of rewriting and, in at least two scenes, to be made completely new.  There may be more, but I’m getting to them.  Because it needs getting to, you know.

There is one good thing to come out of all of this:  in deciding to completely redo a scene in Chapter One, something will happen there that will actually tie into a conversation that will happen in–let me look it up–Chapter Thirty-one.  It would be Chapter Thirty-two, but I think I can change the time line just a little, move a couple of scenes from there to Thirty-one, and eliminate a chapter.  Whee!  That means I’ll only have to write forty-two chapters–which, you have to admit, is a lot more geek-lined.

However, getting to that link required thinking about how the story would play out on the other end, and that wasn’t pleasant.  Oh, the planning and whatnot is always a lot of fun–usually.  There are moments when it’s all a pain in the ass to get everything straight in your head, which is why I always make charts and such to help me along.

No, it’s when you have to get into your kid’s heads and understand why they do some of the things they do.

The scene in question brings up the matter of dreams, which in the world I’ve created are usually a lot more than they seem.  Particularly if you’re Annie and Kerry, who seem to have an issue when it comes to a special form of lucid dreaming.  These dreams have special meaning to both kids, and for the first time yesterday I thought them out, even made a few notes, because at some point gotta talk about them.

But it wasn’t those dreams that caused issues in these scenes:  it was remembering another dream alluded to in Kerry’s dream.  It’s something that explains an action he takes in Act One; it explains something that’s been bothering Annie since meeting Kerry.  It’s something that ties in something said in Chapter One–something she’ll say a few more times, as if she’s trying to trigger memories.

In bringing up this new dream, however, it pulled out a few memories and feelings of my own, one of which is particularly painful at the movement.  And in doing so, I had a full-on crying meltdown.

"These imaginary characters of yours are tearing you apart.  Why don't you take up another hobby--like, something without emotional connections?"

“These imaginary characters of yours are tearing you apart. Why don’t you take up another hobby–say, like, something that doesn’t involve emotional connections?”

The upside is I finished the scene, and made notes.  One moment I’m all about to fall to the ground crying, and the next I’m trying to set it down in writing.  I blame the hormones, which probably did play a big part in what happened last night.

But I’m back writing again.  I feel good.

Let see how long this goes.

The Loneliness of the Long Distant Series

There are time, I think it’s safe to say, when I wonder if I’m mad as hell.  Not Howard Beale “Mad as hell”, but mad as in Mad Hatter sorta mad.  And why is that, you are probably asking yourself–if, indeed, you are bothering to ask yourself that question after reading the previous sentence.  It’s because I am a little crazy.  It’s because I’ve got a world inside my head, and I’m wondering if I’ll ever get it all out.

And if I should, how much of my life is gonna get spent doing so?

It started like this:  I was speaking with someone yesterday about our respective works in progress.  They mentioned that on their current work–which is really a long series broken into three parts–they’ve written one hundred and twenty thousand words in two and a half years.  That’s a good amount, particularly, as they said, they don’t get the opportunity to write every day.

I then mentioned that with my current novel I’ve written just short of one hundred and forty thousand words in four months, and when looking at the rest of the novel, I believe I have about one hundred and twenty-five thousand words to do for Act Two, and maybe one hundred and ten to one hundred and twenty thousand words for Act Three.  I also mentioned that I was getting into A Song of Ice and Fire series territory in terms of how many characters I’ve had with a point of view and/or a speaking part.  All in all, when you read that, it does come off a just a little batty to say, “Within the next year I expect to finish a novel that’s going to run about three hundred and seventy-five thousand words.  ‘Tis but a meager tale.”

And for the record, here are the characters in Act One who have shown up with major and minor points of view, or have had a substantial speaking part:  Annie, Annie’s Mom, Annie’s Dad, Mr. Mayhew, Kerry’s Dad, Kerry’s Mom, Kerry, Ms. Rutherford, Collin, Alicia, Mathilde, Deanna, Erwyin, Helena, Adric, Isis, The School Adviser, Nurse Coraline, Jessica, Holoc, Maddy, Lisa, Vicky, Wednesday, Harpreet, Emma, Ramona, Mathias, Gretchen the Night Nurse, and Trevor the Librarian.  That’s thirty characters, and right off the top of my head I can think of about six other characters who are going to show up in the next two acts and have something say.

The good news is:  Act One is really the “Let’s Get Everyone Out Here Now” act that does all the introductions, and the majority of these characters will continue on with the story through Acts Two and Three.  The bad news is:  there’s a lot more to the story that just Acts Two and Three.  A lot more beyond what I laid out for Act Three back in October.

I look at this and wonder, "What the hell am I doing?"

I look at this now and wonder, “What the hell was I doing here?”  Not that I don’t know, mind you . . .

I was laying out time lines for my B Level story–as I mentioned in yesterday’s post–and more or less finished up how the story will go, including a scene that was frightening and tear jerking at the same time.  Then I looked at all the other stuff I’ve laid out, really a huge amount of information, and wondered, “Am I really gonna finish this tale?  Each ones of these stories will run well over a hundred thousand words, maybe closer to two.  Will I really have the years left to finish it all?”

It’s an incredible task.  Yes, I can write a quarter of a million words in a year if I try hard enough, and even edit it in three months time.  I’m setting myself upon a long game where I could find myself spending five or six more years to tell a story that few, if any, people will ever read.  This is where the madness comes in, because the question that keeps dancing about in my mind is why?  Why do this?

It’s a strange thing, but once someone told me they had a dream where they were speaking with me while holding the book of this story in their hands.  They told me this wasn’t the only time they’d had this dream, and that they were certain I’d not only write this story, but I’d tell it all.  That if I kept at it, the story of these two kids and their trials and tribulations would become known.

Is that actually the truth?  As Deanna would say, you have to be careful with visions, because by speaking them you almost certainly change the future in some way.  But I’ve already spent two years with this story and these characters bouncing about in my head–

What does it matter if I spend another ten years of my life on it?

As Florence once sang–and, I should point out, the same song will be sung during a show at the school at some point in the future–“What the hell, I’m gonna let it happen to me.”

‘Cause if I didn’t, what else would I do?