Resistance and Dreams
I’m starting a new book and Resistance is beating the hell out of me.
The book is nonfiction. Autobiographical. Here’s the form Resistance is taking. It’s telling me (the voice in my head, that is), “What are you, crazy? Do you imagine anybody is gonna be interested in these lame-ass stories from your life? They are so ordinary! YOU are so ordinary. Readers are going to laugh you off the page. Whatever credibility you’ve built up over the years will go straight into the toilet. Stop right now before you totally humiliate yourself!”
I wish I could hear that voice and say, “Ah, that’s Resistance! I’ll simply dismiss it.” But I’m terrified that the voice is true.
Worse, I’m having a helluva time even conceiving the book in my mind. I haven’t been able to do a Foolscap. I can’t find a three-act structure. I’m not even sure what to include in this damn thing.
If it weren’t for encouragement from my girlfriend Diana, I would totally dump this project. Despite her belief in it, I’m racked with indecisiveness and irresolution.
I’m about 100 pages in, which is at least SOMETHING. But the form the writing is taking is spaghetti-against-the-wall. I’m just snatching unrelated episodes out of the air. I have no idea what goes where … or even if there’s any order at all.
In the midst of this, I had the following dream (verbatim from my notes-to-myself):
[Note: GOVERNMENT CHEESE is the title of the book.]
Somehow I got into my possession a diary/journal of Hemingway’s that he had used during the writing of a novel. No specific one from real-life, just one in the dream. The journal was in the form of hand-drawn maps with no text. Each map (there was a big pile of them) represented one day’s writing. The concept was that Hemingway was driving across country east to west and each day’s travel represented one day’s writing. Except the maps were ridiculously vague. No place names, no road numerals, no river names, nothing. I studied the pages one at a time trying to figure out what state/city/road they represented. I assumed Hem was starting from Boston or Maine (not sure why I assumed this, it just made sense in the dream) so I’d look at a map page and ask myself, “Is this Massachusetts? Is this Connecticut?” But I couldn’t tell. Farther west, I asked myself, “Is this body of water the Hudson? Is this Lake Champlain?” It was impossible to tell.
[Here there are notes of my associations with each image in the dream. Too long and idiosyncratic/personal to include here.]
My analysis/conclusion: the dream is trying to tell me to keep the faith re the crazy way GOVT CHEESE is unspooling. If we think of writing the book as a trip east to west across the United States, each day I’m lost. My maps don’t tell me where I am. Middle of book? End? Totally lost? But don’t worry, says the dream. Hemingway did it this way and it worked for him.
I’m still racked with self-doubt over this project, but this dream certainly helps. I had another one a few days later. I’ll report that next week.