Why is it that you can see a face once - for a second, for a moment, for an evening (perhaps stretching into the yawning morning) - and not be able to call it up in your waking life? You remember colors, but not shapes. Shades and shadows, but not specifics. Not the specific tilt of a brow, the roundness of cheek, the arch of a nose.
But in sleep, your mind recalls it all. Those rapidly firing syanpses, the skeletons of years ago, come out to dance and play and you wake up wondering where you are, where you have been, where your mind has taken you. And with whom.
You see, I knew it would happen. It is how the mind works. I only spent about thirty minutes last night with my manuscript, and the edits of the fabulous soccer_rant_06
. I dealt with practically only my narrator, and the doubting voices in her head. She hasn't even begun her own dance. I haven't introduced the first man (let alone the second, who doesn't enter until another thirty pages or so). But I saw him. I saw him like it was yesterday. In a world so nonsensical only in a dream could it be mistaken for reality (yes, I think by now, we've all seen the film), I was at dinner with friends, or perhaps I just bumped into them. I sat at a table alone and beside them, waiting for someone I was sure would never come. I believe I even said so to them. I don't know how much my dream self believed the words as I said it.
And then one friend gestured towards the other end of the restaurant, and I was suddenly standing, the length of the room looming, like a camera in rack focus. And there he stood. The man on the page. The man in life. But only in a dream.
The dream wound around events that occurred, events that never did. Events clearly pulled from a television show I had just watched (though instead of ending in humor, it ended in tears); the mind is a strange thing. When I awoke to the jarring noise of my alarm at 6 a.m. sharp (after which I hit the five-minute snooze three times, but finally pulled myself up at 6:12 and slipped into warm layers of running clothes for my three mile recovery run. Somehow) it floated all around me. Memories of things real, things imagined; things written, things remembered and forgotten. A face that I could not draw with my own hand even if I had the talent for that sort of art. A face I only see in dreams.
When Amy Tan came to McBride's class at the end of last semester, someone asked her if she ever worked on more than one project (of fiction). She said she had tried more than once, but could never manage. We write our obsessions, she said. We eat, breathe, sleep them. How can I go to bed with one, and wake up with another?
It was like a movie, really. I even had a soundtrack playing in my head. Though strangely, a different song played in my mind when I woke (I am listening to it now).
Last night, only managed to get through two or so pages. It's a long, slow process, especially at the beginning. I know I'll hit my stride, as I do running. It is probably why I love both with such fervor (and, at times, hate them). They are so similar. It's about pushing through the pain, and reveling in the joy. The freedom of movement. Of words. The power of language. The power of my fingers on the keybord, the pen across the page. My feet on the road, orthe trail. Both require concentration, dedication. Both require rest. Each night, I sleep eight hours (well, most nights) so I can get in my twenty or more miles a week. I have taken four or so months off from this story. And now I'm ready. Or hope I am.
But the dreams will come, I know. Just as they do for my protagonist. My writing obsesses me. These ideas obsess me. I am not my narrator, and yet she is an integral part of me. I did not create her. She made herself. And in some ways, she shaped me.
I only hope I can do her justice. Do justice to my characters. To their stories. I don't remember the quote, and can't find it at the moment, but I remember reading something about Hemingway a few years back. He said he used to write about people he knew and liked - about friends - but they were always upset or mad about how he wrote them. So, he said, he started writing about people he hates, and try to give them a fair shake.
So let's go darker. Let's try to find the farther reaches of my dreams. I will dream often. I will dream in color, in blackness. I will dream what I write, what I think, what I believe, what I would never write. I will dream memories. I will dream fantasies. I will dream of things that were; things I regret. Things that never were and never will be. Dream of secrets.
So let's begin.