Long before I knew how to spell “synopsis” or understood the need for a rock solid query, I imagined stroking the cover of a book I’d written myself.
Now that I’ve stroked not just one but two of my own books, I understand there is more to being a “real” author than just writing a good story. In order to give our creations the best possible chance at success, we also have to market and sell our work. And apparently that concerns my subconscious, since last night it added a new anxiety dream to my repertoire.
Almost six years after the Olympics, I still have a recurring nightmare. I’m at some distant regatta packing for a flight home that leaves in an hour, and not everything will fit into my luggage. As I stuff and repack and turn to find yet another pile of clothes on the floor behind me, I know I’m Going To Miss My Flight. Of course, my teammates are ready and waiting for me… and I HATE to be waited for.
It’s always a relief when I wake up.
Last night, I had a completely new anxiety dream. I’m having a glass of wine with a woman I barely know (and after last night, I’m not interested in getting to know her any better). We suddenly realize I am ten minutes late for my booksigning that started at 5pm, the reason I’d come to town in the first place. So we hop in her car and race off. Since she’s the local, I figure she knows where she’s going… until we end up on the wrong side of town.
“Oh, it’s at that OTHER bookstore!” she says, and we speed off again.
One way streets. Cars and pedestrians blocking the road. Everything conspires against our getting where we need to go, even though it’s “just a few blocks away.”
By the time we finally arrive at the (other) bookstore, it’s 8:30pm. Worst of all, I don’t even have a decent excuse. (“We were having a glass of wine and lost track of time” certainly doesn’t sound very professional.) I stroll into the empty store, determined to make the best of a very bad and quite self-induced situation.
“Sorry I’m so late,” I say. “How many books did we sell?”
“Fifteen and a half,” the owner replies.
(Why my subconscious thinks you can sell half a book, I’ll never know.)
It gets worse. The bookstore owner leads me to the back of the store where the last buyer is waiting patiently—and remember, I HATE to be waited for. It’s a boy who can’t read, and he asks me to chisel my signature in the book cover, as if it were a piece of wood.
I want to reward the kid for being so patient, so I struggle with the completely inappropriate tool and hope I don’t cut myself.
Then I wake up.
Now I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a different interpretation, but to me this dream screams “real author.” I’m no longer sleep-worrying about catching planes home from regattas, like an Olympic sailor; instead I’m worrying about book signings—forgetting to go to one, and dealing with an awkward situation when I finally remember. I’m surprised my subconscious didn’t work in an aspiring writer who holds up the line to complain about how hard it is to get published.
My old anxiety dream had nothing to do with sailing, and this new dream has nothing to do with writing. Maybe that’s because the writing is the easy part of being an author?
Anyway, I’m going to take this nightmare as a positive sign. I’m also going to take a nap this afternoon… and probably skip the glass of wine before tonight’s signing.