Saturday night I didn’t sleep much, or well. It’s not as if I had caffeine or tried to stay up. I went to bed, I just couldn’t get to sleep, and when I did, I came flying out of it, over and over. My sleep was filled with dreams—nightmares, really. The giant robot spider scuttled up onto my arm and while I tried to back away from it, it clamped down on me and injected my arm with some black ooze from its stinger, which was hollow and transparent. The spiderbot said, “It’s okay, just relax.” I looked down at the syringe, which looked like my insulin needle. The ooze had “erased” the flesh in my arm. I screamed and struggled to get away from the spiderbot. The ooze traveled through my veins, eating away all of the soft tissue until I was nothing but a skeleton with a normal head on it.
I woke up as I rolled over, batting away the sheet that was bunched up on top of me. I never sleep on my back. What had I been doing on my back? Oh, yeah, being injected by some mechanical spider like I was a test subject in a bad science experiment. Whew, glad that was just a dream. Now sheet, now pillow, now zzz.
Stephen King wrote The Little Sisters of Eluria, a story about insects that ate away dead flesh, like maggots are known to do in real life. The little beetles that crawled all over me reminded me of that story, but mine talked. They started at my feet, carpeting me and moving upward. I said, “NO! STOP.” They stopped their progress up my body, but they didn’t hold still. From my knees down wiggled and waved with the bugs. One spoke up and said, “It’s okay. We’ll just eat away the bad parts, like the bugs in Eluria.”
“Oh. Well, okay, I guess. If you must.” But they ate everything. Again, I was nothing but bones, screaming. The process wasn’t graphic or anything, strange as that sounds to say. I just didn’t want it to happen. It was taking away everything that was “me.”
I woke panting and yanking the sheet off again as I sat up in the bed. “Where are these dreams coming from? What is going on?” I flipped my pillow and shoved my face into the coolness of the fresh side. My muscles relaxed and I slept again. In an hour, my alarm went off. Then, my husband was waking me for church. Not much rest. It was on the drive to church that it occurred to me: my identity was being threatened. That’s what the dreams were all about.
I am a writer
Yes, I edit far more than I write, but I am a writer, and have been one since I was three years old. Yesterday, I had two articles rejected by a new writing website I’d been invited to write for—enthusiastically and much more rapidly than they usually accept writers, I might add. They saw my ability in the samples I submitted and the test I took for them. Their reasons for rejecting the two articles were stupid (IMO), and the whole thing was frustrating.
If I’m given a task with no instructions, but I have the leeway to do it my way, that’s fine. If I’m given detailed instructions about what’s expected, that’s fine, too. But to have someone refuse to tell me what’s expected, yet they apparently do have a certain thing in mind…and then to have them say, “Nope, this isn’t it,” and again, “Not that, either,” but they won’t say what IS? ARGH.
The thought occurred to me in the van on the way to church: if I don’t have that (my identity as a writer/editor), what do I have? It may sound silly, and it sounds silly to me, too, but there it is, nonetheless. Those nightmares made it clear to me that down deep, that’s how I feel.
Now, I know, and I tell all of “my” writers that good writing (barring a slew of mistakes) is in the eye of the beholder. Many bestsellers and classics were rejected numerous times before they were accepted. Not all readers are going to like any given piece. It’s just a fact. It doesn’t mean we should stop. It doesn’t mean we should let those critics take away our identity.
I am a writer, no matter what that reviewer at that site says, and so are you. I’m going to say it again:
I am a writer, no matter what that reviewer at that site says, and so are you.
To prove it, I wrote this post. I’m also going to write the outline for my next ebook, tonight. You have your own voice of doubt inside your head, and you have to talk back to it. Tell it to shut up, or tell it what you’re going to do anyway, then do it. What are you going to write today?