Chaos Attraction

Writer's Block

2003-09-04, 9:57 p.m.

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(most of entry ripped off from the LiveJournal)

I don't like dreaming.

Normally, when I keep having dreams for awhile, I try to break the cycle of it- get five or less hours of sleep for a few nights, then I don't remember any dreams. But recently, I have been getting five or less a night, and yet dreaming I still do.

I had a dream the other night that my mom got pregnant and I was going to have a sibling. I was very weirded out by this and remember thinking, "By the time the kid's old enough to have a conversation, I'm gonna be thirty."

And last night on chat, people were going on about how great I was. I suppose my subconscious isn't used to this, because it felt compelled to remind me of who I really am.

Despite getting practically no sleep last night because of waking up suddenly kinda sick at 2 a.m., I managed to fall enough asleep in the last hour or so before I had to go to work (so much for my plan of making sure I don't get enough sleep TO have dreams at all) to have a really, really nasty dream.

These two people, presumably high schoolers, a blond guy and a equally blonde girl, came up to me while I was walking out of school with the others. Sidled up to me and commented at great length about how I am such a rude asshole because I always bump into people, rush on past them, never say "Excuse me" when I've shoved them out of my way, etc., etc. All things that I have been yelled at for about my public behavior. They followed me all the way away, saying how awful and horrible I was the entire time. Then finally I get to where I'm going (like hours later; it'd gotten dark and they were still going on) and they snottily walk off, and I enter a building and there's a Halloween dance going on, with my first ever best friend (rather a snot herself in later years) in an prairie girl costume complete with bonnet.

As sobell might say, "So you see why I don't bother with dream interpretation; it would be tantamount to interpreting the back of a cereal box." Oh yes, me too.

I guess the whole dream was to put me back in my place again, to remind me of who I am and what a good portion of people out there still think of me. Just in case I get too happy and forget who I am and turn into an real monster or something, I guess.

The morning continued to be fun. Imagine my joy upon picking up the school newspaper today, reading an article about how a student here got shot out of the blue at a convenience store, and realizing that there was at least a possibility that I know the killer. Who has the same name as a former best friend of mine (haven't seen her much in the last few years though)'s abusive husband. And the guy was the right age and ahem, clearly having major mental problems. Hell, the last time I saw the guy was him walking out of a hospital bandaged. (Holding hands with some other girl, which wigged me right out.) And hell, for all I know the guy could have gone to Fresno in the last year, where the murder took place...

So naturally, I freaked out and tried to find anything on it. Nothing in Sacramento Bee. Nothing in my former paper. Finally found something in the Fresno Bee, and I suppose it's not him after all, since to my knowledge the guy I knew didn't have a brother (not that I heard about at least, I wouldn't put it past that family to have one nobody mentioned because they were that weird), and it did take place in Fresno and I have yet to find any background information on the killer saying that he had any connection to this town. And that is a bloody common name. So I guess it's not him.

Still gives me the chills though. I wish I knew what happened to my friend's phone number (I think she's graduated since I last saw her, so e-mail won't work) so I could check and make sure that she's actually divorced him by now. She was too afraid to go through the paperwork before.

Continuing the day's fun, it turns out that the free clinic I thought Dave could go to without insurance is well, NOT. Would clean him out of all money. And he said if he went to the ER again, he'd have to declare bankruptcy because it'd be at least over a thousand dollars to go. And he doesn't seem to be improving.

Last time he went to the ER we thought it was life and death, and it turned out to be nothing but GAS. Can't afford to go bankrupt for something like that. His credit is already fucked for life as is from medical bills while unemployed, bankruptcy is like we lose all hope. We're never going to be able to live together because his credit's so sucky nobody'd put him on a lease. If he declared bankruptcy, he'd be fucked for ten years instead of only seven. (And realistically, yes, I know it's not really seven, it's longer than that, etc., etc.)

In all good conscience, I cannot ask him to go to the doctor unless he's sick enough to drop dead here...If he doesn't get better on his own I don't know what the hell will happen.

Well, one good thing happened today: I think I have talked Ashley (one of the folks in Dave's crowd, kinda, if you recall her) into:

(a) going to junior college. I told her classes just started and she could try calling her local school to see if she can still get in and she can! She's waiting to check financial aid, but it looks good, and she was all excited.

(b) moving out/breaking up with her boyfriend, who seems to be getting bipolar/jealous/bad temper-y in a way that reminded me of the abusive guy. She sounds miserable living there and I asked her what happy was she getting by staying- none. Well, time to move back home and go to school, I think... I don't think she'll be there much longer. I hope, anyway.

So I was reading this thread, and it kinda uh, struck a nerve. Apparently this is a pet peeve with a few folks, who want their authors to come up with characters that are quite different from them and make it believeable instead of, well...

"Even though I know it's a work of fiction, there's so much "write what you know" going on that I'm having a hard time separating the author from the character."

I don't write fiction much. Mainly because, well... guess what I tend to do. I do tend to have events go on in my life that seem pretty fictional/plotwise, so I used to mine some of that for writing class. Then I'd get nailed for writing about my own life so frigging obviously ("sounds like something that actually happened to you"). Then again, when I didn't write about my own life, I got nailed for lack of realism ("A girl would never get into an argument with her boyfriend with her shirt off!"), not too much. I couldn't win, so I got the hint and switched to creative nonfiction, where I became quite the infamous star for writing essays about my insane teachers and scandalous poly relationship. I decided that was my bag and that I was hopeless at fiction.

(Ironically, I was checking the NPR archives last night and on the MacGyver show (8/15) there was a story about a girl who would deliberately write about her life for fiction class and then have her classmates tell her what was really going on with her. Can't say that exactly happened with me, though. Not that I was trying to get that to happen deliberately, mind you.)

Then came this NaNoWriMo thing a few years ago, which is fiction only- no real life, just see what you can make up on your own in 30 days. Since I did always want to write a book at some point, and thought something like this would push me nicely into the job...I just had to come up with something non-real to write.

This time, I think I actually wrote fiction. Course, the character did start out rather like me (plot purposes, I swear, I needed the astrological data!), but since it was sci-fi, the plot went in a whole other direction. It seemed to work. (Now if I could only be arsed to finish the last fourth of it, right?) I admit things were kinda strange in the descriptions because I suck at those and what I was writing about was not so visual, but it was probably a vast improvement from my usual. But after last year's bombing, I planned to never do it again.

Then I read Pamie's book, and it sparked this idea. This idea that's uh, not so much with the sci-fi and more with the chick lite modern world realism. More motivated by ye old twentysomething angst and the joys of the modern recession era than by magical powers showing up for one's birthday a la young adult novels. In short, BIG temptation to end up writing like, well, me. Sounding like me because the character will have to be around my age, possibly having the same degrees at the same school (plot purposes again, seriously, if I go a particular way I actually have to locate it here because of things only offered in this area) activities based on me because I want the character to be artsy in some way, albeit I haven't decided just how yet because I need enough knowledge to write about the subject convincingly and I'm not good at say, music, enough to pull off writing the secret dreams of a musician with actual talent.

In short, I'm rather afraid to start writing this because I suspect it's gonna come out sounding a whole lot like me and not fiction at all. I don't want to write my life story, mind you- I already do that here, thanks- but I fear that even if I'm trying not to, that it'll sound like me anyway.


I tried asking about this on a chick lit mailing list, with actual published authors and such. Their general consensus was that it's no good if it doesn't sound like you and you should write what you know. And then yesterday while utterly bored at work, I was reading through and found this and this, which confirmed what they said. Especially this bit:

"The most miserable writing experiences in my life have been those that carried no personal risk for me. With those projects, I could barely drag myself to the keyboard each day, and I gritted my teeth and wrote word after word by sheer force of will, kept at my task by immutable and unforgiving deadlines. I could find neither joy nor challenge in these projects because they had nothing of me in them, and no matter how much I wanted to care about the outcome of my hard work, I simply didn't."

I have noticed this problem too, sadly.

So I was about to resign myself to writing All About Jennifer, Just Different Name And Slightly Different Plot Or Something because this is apparently better than I thought, when the subject came up on chat this afternoon...and well, apparently this is kind of a general pet peeve. If you're gonna write yourself, just write nonfiction, geez.


So I dunno what to do, exactly.

Oh well, if the novel becomes All Me, All The Time, at least I can hide it. I doubt I have the motivation to push to publish anyway.

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