Posts Tagged dreams

Writing and the Junk Drawer of Life–Finding a Place for Everything in 2011

Today is a repost, but this blog is one of my all-time favorites, and I thought it was perfect to close out the year. I hope you guys enjoy your time off if you have some. For me, this will be one of the best Christmases ever, mainly because of this blog. I have been immensely blessed to get to know so many great people who, otherwise, would have never crossed my path. Thanks for blessing me with your friendship.

One morning, a few months back, I was doing my early morning walk through the neighborhood, pondering the universe, when I had a profound thought. My life is like my kitchen junk drawer. Stop laughing. It’s true. Sometimes, when I put in a lot of extra effort, it is neat and clean and streamlined…and then the Law of Entropy somehow takes over. It is a never-ending battle against my own selfish will to goof off. And yet, I have to admit, my junk drawer is usually one of the most interesting locations in my house.

The junk drawer is always full of things we don’t want to face—an unpaid bill, a child’s bad report card, a letter from some crazy family member we can’t throw away but try to ignore. Something sticky that we just can’t bear cleaning. Do it later. Full of unfinished business. Write that “thank you” note later. Pay that bill later.

My life is also full of these things I don’t want to face—my laziness, my tendency to procrastinate, my harshness with myself and others. Stickiness that I just can’t face cleaning. Will get organized…later.

Junk drawers are also filled with things of questionable value; an extra screw that we just can’t figure out where it goes, a single AA battery that we are too cheap to throw away, but too lazy to put with the other batteries (wherever they are). Oh, and a tiny calendar from a real estate agent that we will never use, but don’t have the guts to toss. Markers that work when you lick the tip and pens with schmutz clogging the end…but if you scribble real hard they still work. Packets of ketchup when there is a full bottle in the fridge. Packets of salt and pepper and sporks from fast food joints.

My mind, too, holds on to things of questionable value. I have all kinds of experiences and bits of knowledge that puzzle even me. I am flypaper for useless trivia, like the end of a shoelace is called an aglet and the element helium was discovered in the late 1800s when scientists were studying the sun, and it is named after the Greek Sun god, Helios. I don’t know why I know these things, but I do. I don’t know why I can’t find my car keys, but I can remember that Washington Carver invented peanut butter and that the first thing I ever took to Show and Tell in Kindergarten was Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (yeah, I am a nerd from way back).

Ah, but then there are the hidden treasures of the junk drawer; the sweet card from a husband for no reason at all, a photo that missed the baby book, a $20 bill we forgot we had, a rebate check we forgot to cash, ticket stubs from a memorable concert, or even wheat pennies and Canadian pennies that we have sorted from the real pennies since we were children.

Which brings me to my point…

Our lives are all like junk drawers; full of the messy, the missing, the mystifying and the magical. Sometimes I think that is why I became a writer, to “sort out” the junk drawer of my soul. So often my stories feature characters so similarly flawed as me. And, as I help them learn and grow…strangely, so do I. With writing, I can find use for random childhood memories, like the smell of Breck shampoo or the taste of coconut sno-cones. Through stories, I can give them new life in new context so that they can live forever…or at least longer. Through fiction, I can tend unfinished business, like a broken heart that never mended or a dream I was too scared to pursue.

With fiction…it all oddly makes sense.

And I will continue filling the drawer with experiences and information and ideas and dreams and heartbreaks and disappointments and tragedies. Then I will sit down and sort and take what will work and then I will toss the remains back in and label them “Miscellaneous” until I find them a home.

What do you do with random memories and experiences? How do you use them? Keep track of them? Leave a comment and share. We’d like to know. Yes, I cheated and didn’t write a totally new blog for today, but I am still keeping an eye on the blog, and your contributions are the best part of what I do.

Happy writing and Merry Christmas!

Until next time…

Give yourself the gift of success for the coming year. My best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books!

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Writers Have the Coolest Dreams

Okay, I wracked my brain for something inspiring, meaningful and life-altering to share with you today, but alas…this ain’t it :D. Today is Free-for-All Friday so it’s time to relax and have some fun. Maybe I’m partial, but I happen to think that writers have the coolest dreams. We should in that we use our imagination almost more than any other field. Unlike film or music or painting, we have to evoke entire worlds and all five senses using black letters on a white page. WOW!

I have always had really vivid dreams. In fact my dreams are often better at seeing truths that I maybe am too chicken to face. For instance, when my life is all disorganized and I am being lazy and not tending what needs tending…I dream of tornadoes. When I have some person in my life that I need to confront, I dream of sharks. Not too long ago, I dreamed I was walking up a road where I used to live, and a wild rhino had escaped the zoo. Anyway, the sucker chased me and ran me over like a freight train. So how did I interpret this? Hmmmm….maybe I need to be nicer in critique group :D.  Perhaps my subconscious was showing me how I was making others feel *shrinks in seat.*

I still have this dream where my high school guidance counselor knocks on my door and tells me there was a mistake. I never really graduated high school and thus my degree from T.C.U. is null and void. And, because it has been so long, many of my credits no longer count, so I am expected to start tenth grade on Monday even though I am 36.

Oh and there is the personal favorite, the dream where I am enrolled in school but apparently I haven’t been showing all semester. As I walk into a class I have never seen, I am handed the final exam. GASP!

I hear these last two are pretty common dreams for perfectionistic overachievers. I have no idea why I would be having them *whistles innocently.*

Yet, the odd thing about dreams is that sometimes it just seems like my brain is defragging, because that is the only conceivable reason I can imagine that Michael Jackson and a chorus line of squirrels could keep company in my gray matter. I loved those sleeping pill commercials where they guy would see Abe Lincoln and the talking beaver in his kitchen. I can so relate.

Anyway, all of this brings me to my point—yes, I do have one. Sometimes my brain is so weird it freaks me out, and I think, “Only in the mind of a writer.” This last week I watched American Psycho with Christian Bale…right before bed. Yeah, probably not the brightest move, especially since I think Christian Bale is the Jack Nicholson of our generation. He’s just got that you need an ax energy.

So here is what my brain did with this information. In my dream, I was married to Christian Bale Dark Knight Bat Man. Not only was I married to him, but apparently we were going through a nasty divorce and custody battle. To make matters worse, apparently Bat Man didn’t want a divorce and had kind of gone all Sleeping with the Enemy. I have a feeling that I finally got the nerve to leave him because I was tired of him freaking out every time I didn’t fold his bat cape correctly or organize his bat tools facing forward. Just guessing. Anyway the entire dream is me—normal person lacking any cool gadgets or super powers—trying to run away from a superhero who has gone foaming-at-the-mouth-raving-crazy. I ran through parking garages and dove under cars and just about the time I found a safe hiding place? Our infant son starts crying, giving away our position in the bushes. WTH? I know. It was actually pretty terrifying.

But it did make me think. Can you imagine being Mary-Jane Watson dealing with a Spiderman who didn’t want to pay alimony? Or the daughter of Super Man who wanted to go necking with her boyfriend on prom night? Ah, the dreams writers have.

So after a week pondering this dream, I am just tossing it in the box with Elvis and the Slip and Slide unless you guys have any bright ideas. But that’s enough about me. I want to hear about you guys. What is the scariest, weirdest, coolest dream you’ve ever had? I want to know, and to prove it…

Leave a comment and I will put your name in for a drawing, and you can win an autographed copy of my book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I’m going to gather all comments until Halloween and then the winner will be announced November 1st. Trackbacks count as an entry, so you can double your chances to win by leaving a comment and then linking to any of my blogs.

So bring on the crazy dreams!

Oh, and happy writing!

Until next time….

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