The Grim Dreams

After such an interesting weekend, here I am back at the start of the last full week of September.  Weather’s cooling off, and things are changing.  It rained Saturday afternoon, and was cloudy for most of the morning yesterday.  Oh, and I managed to write my article yesterday, all twenty-three hundred words of it.

I have things to do this week; it didn’t help that I had some very strange and disturbing dreams last night.

I don’t think there is just one thing that can be said about them, because there didn’t seem to be one thing that stood out and said, “Hey, disturbing.”  It just felt bad and depressing, with a lot of running around and being kept in small places, and feeling lonely and isolated.  It was very strange, ’cause I don’t think I can point to one thing, it was only feelings and sensations.  Oh, and cold:  there was that, too.  The feeling of cold.

Now, some people might say, “It’s because you went up to That Place on Saturday,” but I don’t believe that.  I didn’t feel like that Saturday night, and Sunday I was in a great mood all day.  Maybe it was because of watching Breaking Bad, which is down to its last episode, and is about a grim and dark as you’re ever going to find on television.  Sure, watching Meth Damon blow away some woman on her front porch after saying, “I want you to know this isn’t personal,” wasn’t a good moment, but the end?  Hey, never go on TV and say things that are going to piss off a drug kingpin who feels like getting even.  You’re getting tickets to Belize.

I can’t say, because you don’t know how your mind works, and you know even less about your subconscious.  I stopped trying to understand my dreams a while back, because trying to see if there was some meaning there was making me a little bonkers.  Besides, I’m not good at figuring out stuff like that, so I leave it to others.

But, man, no one wants to get up at two-thirty in the morning feelings like they just ran a race, and knowing that part of the time in your dream you were locked in a cage.  Bummer, man, bummer.

However . . . something woke me at five-twenty, and it was one of those, “Am I sleeping or am I awake?” kind of deals.  But someone was rubbing up against me, and I know who the person was and what part they were using to do the rubbing.  And that was driving me nuts, too, because more and more I’m looking for human contact, and this was definitely the sort of contact that I wouldn’t mind.  Yes, you can see where my mind is now . . .

It isn’t bad to have a grim dream now and then.  It’s when you have them all the time that it becomes a little hard on your constitution.  People want and deserve happiness, and when you don’t get it, you suffer.

Who wants to suffer?  Be happy with all you do–even if you’re forced into some bad dreams once in a while.

The Outside Looking In

I am a fan of Zen Pencils.

I’d never heard of it before last September, just as I was in the final stages of preparing for NaNo 2012.  I don’t remember who posted this strip, the first that I saw, but I remembered it vividly, so much so that I went back to read it many times.

Why did it touch me?  It may have had something to do with NaNo, with some of the people revolving around NaNo, or some of the people revolving around my life.  I was posting excerpts from my project, showing my chapter layouts and my time lines, and there were more than a few snipping remarks about how I was doing NaNo “wrong”, that I needed to “just write”, and that all this prep meant I was incapable of writing anything “imaginative”.  There were a couple of people who objected to the title of my work, and, of course, a few who were like, “Why are you even bothering?”

The “Why are you even bothering?” crowd are always easy to figure out, by the way:  they’re the ones who feel since you’re never going to make big money off your work, why don’t you do something else–you know, like clean the house, or pay the bills, or something?  These are usually the sort whose most imaginative thought of the day is wondering if they should change their underwear, and if so, what should they wear.

In other words, they got no idea what makes a person like me tick.

Since that first encounter with The Zen, I’ve not only visited the site often, but I’ve showed it to others.  Some have ignored it, some have loved it.

This last one brought back way too many memories.

I have written many times throughout my life.  I’ve tried a lot of things, actually:  I’ve always loved art, loved reading, loved music, loved writing.  I was never content to do things that were–shall we say, easy?  I was never a good artist, but on a couple of occasions I let my imagination go, and the end result was to get some intense praise from the instructor.  I didn’t just read, I was off into advanced stories and concepts long before high school.  I didn’t just listen to music:  I found things that made me think and wonder, and devoured the sources.  And my writing?  I was doing nutty stuff even in the mid-1970’s.

However . . .

There were always people around me who thought my art was “strange”.  By the very fact I read I was considered a “weirdo”, and I even had one person who’d been a friend for years stop talking to me because he thought I was “nuts”.  I was always being told I listened to “freak music”, and that I should stick to stuff more popular.

And no one gave a shit about my writing.

I finally took up writing in a serious way in the late 1980’s, and kept at it for a while.  I once brought my spouse to a writer’s group I was in–more a collection of friends than anything else–and I read what I was working on at the time.  On the way home I asked my spouse what they thought, and they comment was, “It was crap.  I hate when you write stuff like that.  The only good story you ever wrote was your first.”

My first story that they knew was a quick, fast, first person horror story that was filled with so many clichés that H. P. Lovecraft would have killed it with fire.  But, to my spouse, it was the best thing I ever wrote, and they were of the opinion that I should go back to writing stuff like that.

Between a life time of hearing stuff like that, and having to deal with my other problems, I gave up on writing for a long time.  You start believing that everything you do is crap, that you’re never getting ahead.

You become a willing participant in killing your dreams.

These days, I write in a vacuum most of the time.  I know there are few people around me who care about this work, but screw them:  I do this for me.  I have a daughter who wants to be an artist.  I encourage her to draw, and to draw as much as she can.  She posts some of her work on her Tumblr, and has gotten great feedback.

I don’t have to tell her to do anything differently than is being told here.

When I am down, when I feel I am wasting my time, when I feel that all that I do will be for naught, I think about what has come before, and what could be next.

And then I use my time.

Reliving the Good Old Bads

There are times when I take too much enjoyment in what I write.  Doesn’t happen much, because I like to keep things in the real, but with my newest story, I find myself thinking about a time when I wasn’t at my happiest, and how I thought times might get better, but probably wouldn’t.

In other words, I’ve been thinking of The Undisclosed Location.

Last year at this time I was away from home, taking up residence in a strange town, and starting work at a strange company.  It wasn’t the best situation at the time, and I wasn’t happy about having to uproot and spend so much time away from that which I found familiar.  I did my best, I tried to get through each day–not always with success, I should point out–and I wrote.  I wrote a lot.

The worse thing about the place was the people.  The company felt cold and impersonal, the people unfriendly and too eager to guard their own little ponds of power.  I’ve seen this happen in other companies, but here it was so blatantly obvious that it was impossible to ignore that you, yes you, were always going to be looked upon as an outsider for you entire stay.

Needless to say, I didn’t have a good time at this company, and with having to maintain two abodes and travel back and forth on the weekends, I actually lost money on the deal.  My loathing for the place was so great that when 10/11/13, a Friday, rolled around, and I was told that my position was being eliminated, I wasn’t upset in the least.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, actually.

My main male character in Suggestive Amusements is a person who doesn’t like what he does and doesn’t care for the people he works alongside.  He would rather be a writer, which makes him sound like me, though I’m certain that’s just a coincidence.  He is constantly reminded that his life is in something of a dead end, and if he could move away from his graphic design work and into tale telling for a living, he’d happily leave that old life behind in a moment.

As I started writing about what happens to Keith next, a few weeks after Erin the Muse comes into his life, I find that I’m getting into his life at work, and in particular his relationship with his manager, I began tapping into some residual feelings I have concerning my former employer, and the people I’ve worked on.  It is said that, as a writer, you should write what you know.  I guess I’m knowing too much about what I didn’t like, and it’s showing.

I know I shouldn’t take that personally, then let it show up as attributes in my characters; I shouldn’t allow them to live out the things I may have wanted to do from time to time . . .

Then again, there is always a bit of us that shows up in our writing.  Sometimes it’s an experience, sometimes it’s a life event.  You can’t avoid it–

We have to write about everything:  it’s why we’re writers.