Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dreams and Nightmares

Two things you need to know in order to fully understand this blog post.

Thing 1.) I currently have two full manuscripts out with editors. I know the lecture: put them out of your mind and work on something else. Yeah, right. Like I’m going to forget they’re out there. I am working on other things, but the back left corner of my brain still obsesses about those manuscripts daily.

Thing 2.) I’m totally addicted to the TV show So You Think You Can Dance. I’m obsessed; I TiVo all the episodes so I can watch them again and again. I’ve never watched any kind of reality show before, but I’ve even VOTED for folks on SYTYCD.

Okay, with that knowledge, let’s continue.

I had a dream the other night. I was a contestant on SYTYCD. I was out in LA, living with the dancers, going to rehearsals, the whole shebang. EXCEPT, I was never allowed to dance on TV. Everyone else danced on TV, but not me. Finally, one of the judges pulls me aside (Mary Murphy, in fact) and asks me, “Aren’t you wondering why you’re never on TV?” I mutter something about understudying, how I figured they’d let me know, etc, while inside I’m saying “hell yeah, I wanna know why I’m busting my butt yet I'm not allowed on TV.”

Mary tells me, “It’s because you’re not supposed to be here. You’re a mistake. We’re not sure how you slipped through the cracks, or who screwed up, but you were never supposed to be here. You’re not good enough. We hoped that if we just ignored you, eventually you’d get mad and go away. But obviously you haven’t taken the hint.”

All the other dancers are looking at me with this amused pity on their faces. A “bless-her-heart-she-thought-she-was-as-good-as-us” look, because they’d known all along that I didn’t belong there. I was hurt and mortified, but thankfully, I woke up at that point.

Now, does anyone really need to contact Counselor Shelley for an analysis of this particular dream?

Down, Playfriends. There’s no need to go into Support Mode. I’m not looking for ego bolstering. It was only my subconscious working out fear and insecurity, blah, blah, blah.

I think we’re all afraid that one day, someone’s going to come up to us and say, “Honey, you just aren’t good enough. Go find another hobby.” (Hopefully, it won’t be in public in front of the ones who *are* good enough.) I’m afraid some editor is looking at my manuscript and saying, “Was I on crack the day I requested this?”

I wish I knew how to make that little doubting voice in the back of my head shut the hell up. I just have to tell myself (in a louder voice), “Self, you don’t suck.” When that little doubting voice asks me, “So you think you can write?” the only thing I can say is “Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.”



KimW said...

Ouch, that's a bad dream. I think someone is going to email you and say "Honey, we'd like to offer you a contract on your book". It won't be in a dream, either.

Smarty Pants said...

Well, that will make you wake up feeling like crap. If you were untalented, they wouldn't have 2 of your full MSs to start with. Two at once! That's crazy. I'd be nervous about it too. I haven't even sent mine in yet and its making me nervous about hearing back...


Angel said...

I think there is a very important point here that I'm glad you made. We all have this fear. Sometimes I sit in meetings (or at conference) and wonder if I'm really good enough to be published, especially considering the talent pool. But like you said, you deal with the voices and move on. Some days the doubting voice will be louder than others. You still write.

I'm still trying to put this into practice (knowing it and putting it into practice are two totally different things), and I hope to learn from your example!!!


Kathy said...

The important thing is that you've stepped forward and released your work! You now have the potential to be published. The old addage, no pain, no gain, comes to mind here. Someday you will look back on these moments of doubt and wonder, "What was I thinking?"

Believe in thyself and wondrous things will come into being.


Maven Linda Howard said...

My little voice is different. I've never yet finished a book that I didn't look at and think, "This is crap." But I've never thought I can't write, I just think I didn't write very well on this particular book :-). It never goes away. I just don't think that beforehand, it's always after the manuscript is finished.

Playground Monitor said...

I don't have this dream, but I have the voice in my head that asks me, especially during RWA meetings, "Why are you here?"

I've heard mountain climbers and high wire artists and such say if they had no fear, THEN they'd be worried. Fear keeps you on your toes, keeps your senses in high gear, in which case I should be smelling the landfill in Cincinatti and dancing pricipal with the Bolshoi Ballet. *g*

Rhonda said...

PC, hugs on the bad dream. I wish that I could tell you that the anxiety goes away, but like Linda said, it really doesn't. With the exception of WIDOW, I have never written a book I didn't think was complete crap. I turn it in, my editor looks at it, tells me it's wonderful and I breathe. (But I still don't quite believe it.) Line edits come in and I take a second look and I'm like, "Hmmm. This is actually pretty good. I don't totally suck. I'm not a hack after all."

But the next book? Starts all over again.

Thus is the mentality of a writer, babe. Embrace your psychosis. :-)

Linda Winstead Jones said...

First of all, I LOVE So You Think You Can Dance. :-)

As has been said here, we all have some manner of this fear. Twelve years and more than 50 books, and I still wait for someone to tell me that there's been a TERRIBLE MISTAKE. The books are never good enough -- I can never get them on paper the way I want them to be, not entirely.

The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between "All is crap" and "every word I write is magical." This is the way of life. :-)

Counselor Shelley said...

Eat a box of Mint Milanos & suck it up! You know you are talented - You know it is just a matter of time before you are setting the world on fire - Enough of this self doubt foolishness!

Problem Child said...

Suck it up? You went to school for all that time to learn to say suck it up? (We will let the mention of caloric intake pass. Any excuse for a mint Milano is good.)

And kimw--from your mouth to the editor's ears.