A couple of nights ago I had a weird dream. My brother and I were on the run from every 3 letter agency in the country for a crime I still do not remember the details of (we ordered pizza, they traced a credit card, we became civilian Jason Bournes. I know, you’re jealous of my imagination right now, it’s perfectly normal). They chased us into a canyon where we proceeded to hide, only to be surrounded and arrested (okay, we were unsuccessful Jason Bournes, shut up).
After being arrested, they separated my brother and I, taking us to different crime scenes at opposite ends of the canyon. I found I had a wallet on me the agents did not remove. Inside, there was a big wad of cash and a small bottle of vodka.
Okay, so at this point I still wonder myself why we ordered pizza with a traceable card when I was packing at least a couple hundred grand in cash, but this is a dream and sometimes the logic is not usual logic.
Anyway, I held the two items in my hands and I thought to myself, I can either get drunk or set something on fire.
BZZZZZZT. Then the alarm went off.
After I fully woke up I started thinking about this dream. Dreams are our mind’s way of working through issues we face while awake, and this one had a pretty good message for me.
Get drunk or set something on fire.
Stop looking at me that way, I’m 89% sure that is an entirely metaphorical suggestion.
So, other than the 11% literal suggestion, what does get drunk or set something on fire actually mean? For me, I’m pretty sure this is my subconscious’s way of telling me to make a choice. I have a lot of choices I need to make in my life, although that’s not exactly news. We all do, every day, big and little choices.
In writing, this is telling me to make a choice: be passive, or take a chance.
First choice: Getting Drunk.
In the dream, I could have downed the vodka and gotten drunk. It would have been an understandable choice. We were caught, arrested, separated, and surrounded by hoards of people in flak jackets with bold three-letter anagrams plastered across their bodies. If ever there was a hopeless situation that demanded a drunken binge, it would have been that one.
The other choice: Setting Something On Fire.
I had a wad of cash (tinder). I had vodka (good as gasoline). I was in a desert canyon, a terrain I know intimately and that burns given the tiniest spark. All I needed was that spark, and I could orchestrate a spectacular distraction that could get me and my brother out of there, or kill us all. And it would destroy the money that (I assume) I had acquired to make our lives easier.
The dream gave me a real classic rock and a hard place decision, just like what I’m facing in real life with day job and writing issues, only with less criminal charges and national intrigue. This is me telling myself, okay Shi, you can jump one of two ways. Be passive, or be active.
Golly, this is starting to sound familiar to the writer in me.
The rules in writing don’t stop at the page. Just as your character needs to make active decisions in the narrative to move the story forward, the writer needs to make active decisions in their own life, whether to move their writing, or other aspects of their life, forward.
I am standing at that crossroads right now, looking at two different paths. I am, by nature, a lurker on the internet. This blog has been hard to keep up with, because I prefer to write in solitude and observe, rather than put myself under a spotlight. But under a spotlight is where I need to be if I want to find any success with my writing dreams, the first of which I am working to accomplish with getting some short stories onto Kindle. I won’t get anywhere unless I start setting shit on fire.
I am still full of doubts. Making a decision is hard, committing to it even harder, and seeing it through, without the benefit of knowing the ending, is hardest of all. I don’t know if all the years I’ve spent jotting down the stories in my head have prepared me enough to make my words public. I don’t know if my words will sell, if I will ever make a good income from them. I don’t know.
But I’m deciding to find out.
Looks like I’ll be setting some fires, so I hope you’ll watch for smoke on the horizon.
Photo by f1uffster