Write the way you feel right now and bleed every page, paragraph, sentence, word, letter.
We writers are a funny bunch. And when I say ‘funny,’ I mean ‘a little crazy.’ And when I say ‘a little crazy,’ I mean ‘totally insane.’
Let’s face it: we willingly hole up by ourselves, for months (or years even) on end, putting words and stories on the page, believing that someone will enjoy those very words and stories enough to publish us…perhaps even pay us. If we are lucky enough to find someone who does indeed want to pay us, and if we are nutters enough to calculate the hour-to-dollar ratio, we realize we have earned roughly $.37/hour writing that novel. That’s 37 cents an hour.
Yet we press on, partly because we are genetically compelled to do so. We feel crabby and itchy and constipated if we go too long without putting words on the page. Most of us cannot write for more than a few days or weeks without feeling prickly and irritable.
But many of us also write because we are dreamers. We dream of publication. We dream of sharing our words and stories with someone other than our mothers and our pets. Some of us even dream of getting rich. Can you believe it? We imagine others saying, “She got paid a million dollars for that novel.” Of course there are plenty of writers who care nothing about publication or awards or wealth. I just don’t know any of them. They must live in North Dakota or Russia or some island off the coast of Lilliput.
All the writers I know write because they dream of sharing their stories, their discoveries, their truths with the world. Or at least with several thousand people. Certainly more than their mothers and their cats. And gosh, it is good to dream. If we are to be writers, especially if we are to be fiction writers, we must be Dreamers. It’s part of the job description. There is no fiction without a willingness to dream.
A dream is shiny and pretty and probably quite heavy. Like a coconut cream pie. Or an ocean at sunset. Dreams sit on our shoulder and whisper things like, You can do it!
A writer’s dream may help to “break up the great fountains of the deep” releasing the power of long-buried memories, or bringing through ideas that have been growing in the preconscious or the deeper unconscious for years or decade. That is how Aslan came to C.S. Lewis, giving him the key to Narnia.
The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. The picture had been in my head since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: ‘Let’s try to make a story about it.’
At first I had little idea how the story would go. But then suddenly Aslan came bounding into it. I think I had been having a good many dreams about lions about that time. Apart from that, I don’t know where the Lion came from or why he came. But once he was there He pulled the whole story together, and soon he pulled the six other Narnian stories in after him.