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Last night I dreamed I was trying to get through a border crossing in some strange, Eastern european landscape, barren and stern.

I was driving a rusted and battered old car and the check point was constructed with shot-at stone and bales of barbed wire. There were other cars in front of me, slowly proceeding, and I was getting increasingly anxious. The car I was driving, I knew, was filled with raw meat.

I don’t know whether I was trying to smuggle it in or out through the border; only that there were steaks and slabs of flesh hidden in the doors and in the wheel wells, and I was certain that if this was discovered I’d be added to the cache. I was getting worried because of how slowly the line was proceeding. The whole car was starting to smell.

I woke up before the guards started questioning me.


Was my last update a dream as well? It was. It was, and yet there’s been so much I’ve wished to write about.

It’s strange. I have been having an unusual number of deep conversations recently, with strangers and friends alike, and yet they’ve been of the sort that feel too personal and fraught to use even as inspiration for more public writing, not so much for my own sake, but due to the confidences of others. One layer of anonymity is nowhere near enough.

Perhaps this is why writers turn to fiction.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow. What a clear description of a situation filled with dread, and so typical of the mania of dreams.

    Your conjecture that possibly what you really should be writing is simply too much to bare right now – hits home. I’ve struggled with it for six months (maybe a year and I’ve only admitted it to myself for six months).

    I sit with hands on my keyboard, thoughts tangled between emotions roiling in my brain, and nothing comes out until I hit on a completely unpersonal topic. I’ve become a ravenous fan of news podcasts, and gave up telling myself it’s for any other reason than to keep fictional chatter streaming into my head and blotting out the stuff I have to feel more deeply.

    In any case, dear beautiful soul, the good thing is that you know the Big Thoughts and Big Feelings are there. You are engaging with others it sounds like, to either bring to the surface or to absorb new feelings. As long as you stay aware, I believe your subconscious is working on it. And ask yourself what you can write that does not expose others. If that is what you want/ need, I am sure you can find a way to put it down.

    December 19, 2010
  2. I agree with Crystal, and wish you peace upon waking after such dreams! Maybe the fiction-gods really are sending you some material.

    December 20, 2010
  3. Crystal and Beth: Thank you, both. It’s hard and I wish I could come to some easy solution. I feel this overwhelming ache–and I’m not sure why; do all others have this?–for more public or global expression, but feel constrained by a sensitivity around the private lives and conversations. Surely there must be some happy medium? I’ve been tentatively turning to other forms of more symbolic expression, like carving and dance, but those forms I feel so clumsy in, and it’s writing I love.

    Ah well. Nowhere to go but onwards, I suppose, and through.

    December 20, 2010
  4. The feelings of others have been a limitation in my own writing forever. All my best stories involve these other souls, and somehow I can’t bring myself to do what so many writers do. Maybe the secret is to look for the lessons in each story and express it differently, or fictionalize it, but it’s so hard. And if you have that sensitivity, you probably can’t violate their trust for your own ends, so you do have to find another way, even if it means making your words work harder. But you have to be true to yourself. The work of art that is the person who’s lived an examined life is worth more than a shelf of books that have shattered friendships, or caused other lives to be walked on or used. Or so I believe!

    December 21, 2010
  5. How fertile and raw! Our dreams turn to fiction too, yes, to reveal other layers of the truth, to create coherence in and through and of the psyche?

    December 21, 2010
  6. Beth: I whole heartedly agree. For me the impulse is more one of reverence and love; that is, I’m so often myself shattered or humbled by the stories I hear, and feel those who’ve lived them deserve to be memorialized or celebrated, and that their suffering somehow be seen. I don’t know whether I feel so drawn because of the humanity it holds–like literature- or the miniature heroism, or for the mere beauty–the painting of a landscape that will never be again–but I have to struggle, often, not to document.

    Perhaps the solution is to do so privately, so that there’s a preservation and a hoped-for-saving for later generations. I am not sure.

    Lauren: Yes, though to me they are true in their own way. But then perhaps all fiction is.

    December 21, 2010
  7. You are such an artist, Siona. Get creative. Find a way to write it. Ever listened to the lyrics of a song and, though you knew it was expressing something powerful, had no idea what the topic was for sure? Trust your need to write, trust your need to protect others, and I know you can find a way.

    December 22, 2010

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