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Monday, February 17, 2014

The Writers, The Dreamers, and Me... and Oreos with Milk.


So many days go swirling and whirling by
before I realize just how much time has passed. 

I have so many things to do.

There are things I have to do, things I need to do, and things I want to do.  Time is fast becoming the enemy.  Life marches on with no heed to my dreams and desires.  I want to do it all, before it's too late, but doing it all is time consuming at best.

I struggle to balance the scales as I pile more "to do" on one side, then the other, always with a wary eye on the clock. 


 Oh! How it mocks me!

Let me tell you something, a woman's biological clock is a fierce force of nature... but it's got nothing on a writer's biological clock! There are so many stories, and so little time to write them all.  And I must write them all

"Stories are the way we make sense of the world we live in.
Stories are absolutely essential to human existence.
They tell us who we are, where we come from,
and they really make it possible for us to understand
that there is a residence in our lives that stretches
to earlier times in human existence."

- Professor Harold Scheub

In my World Literature class we are studying "Storytellers".  I could spend all day pondering the importance of the storyteller and the significance of their stories.  But, the laundry needs to be rebooted (again), the dogs have to pee (again), the child is hungry (again), and those morning homeschool lessons aren't going to grade themselves.  Oh, and the dishes.  There is an urgent need to wash them when you open the silverware drawer and find no forks, right?

Clearly, it's time to do some dishes and sort out my priorities (again). I just need to squeeze in a couple of essential things.  Surely, I can find make the time.

I started by writing down the things I want to do more often, but don't feel I have enough time for.  As much as I'd like to "do it all", I'm trying to be reasonable about my list.  So, I have decided to focus on the top two for now.

1)  Reading
2)  Dreaming

Reading is not just something I enjoy, it's crucial to my writer-life.  My struggle lies in finding time for both reading and writing.  This is a balance that I simply have to find, one way or another.

“If you don't have time to read,
you don't have the time (or the tools) to write.
Simple as that.”

-Stephen King


Reading and writing are like an Oreo cookie.  Writing is the cookie outside, and reading is the yummy, creamy, excellent center that holds it together and makes it worth the calories.  You can have one without the other, but it's just not very good that way.  If you take away the delicious filling, you've just got another plain ol' chocolate cookie.  Boring.  Life's too short for boring.  Life's all about the filling.   

I prefer mine double-stuffed by the way.  Don't you?

Then what of dreaming?  If reading and writing are an Oreo cookie, then dreaming is the frosty glass of milk.  Come on, admit it, dunking the cookie in the milk is the best part.  Personally, if there's no milk, I don't want the cookies.

Dreaming is as crucial to writing as reading is... maybe even more so.  All stories begin with a dream (or a nightmare, depending on your genre).  We might dream them into life while we sleep, or we might dream them into existence by staring longingly out the window as we daydream about the "what if".  Either way, we dream them to life.  There's no story without the dream and the dreamer.

Stephen King likens the creative process to a sort of wakeful dream state:
"In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives. And as your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night — six hours, seven, maybe the recommended eight — so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction."  (Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft)


Let's Review:

Writers Must Read

Writers Must Dream


 The cool thing about reading: 

If people see you reading, they get it.  You like to read.  Yay You!  Even if they are not readers themselves, most of them understand you are one of those "bookworms" and it's best to let you be.  Let's face it, there aren't any negative connotations to reading more-- unless being called "smart", "nerd", or "bookworm" truly offends you.  If you get caught reading, there's not a lot of guilt involved... unless there are no clean forks in the house. 

Why should dreaming be any different?  


Why do we duck our heads guiltily when someone yells,
"Hey you!  Get your head out of the clouds!  Quit that daydreaming!"

We live in a world that scolds us for daydreaming.  

To daydream is to waste precious time when we should be doing something productive.  

Well, maybe it's just the writer in me, but my daydreams often turn out pretty darn productive!  I am convinced that our greatest inventions, stories, and ideas began as the daydreams of their creator.  Without the dream, how could they even exist?  They might be said to have materialized from logical thought... but doesn't logical thought begin with an idea?-- and doesn't an idea begin with a dream? 

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them."

-Henry David Thoreau

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Let the world scold me if it must.  Let people wonder about me with my nose in a book.  Let them talk about all the life I'm missing while my head's in the clouds.  Let them try to shake down my air-castles, which are built upon the strong foundations of my dreams.  I have no worries.  My dreams are so much stronger than the world's desire to demolish them. 

I am a reader, a writer, and a dreamer. 

I will read on. 
 I will write on.  
 But most of all... 
 I will dream on.  

Part of being a good writer is being a great dreamer.  

I dare to dream.

Do you?



"Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you
the strength, the patience, and the passion
to reach for the stars to change the world."

-Harriet Tubman

P.S.  Is anyone else suddenly craving Oreos and milk?  I'd totally have some, if only we had clean forks...