Taking Up The Dreaming


There is a Ray Bradbury story in which a woman lies dying in an upstairs room of her family home, while around her her family life goes on.

In the story he describes dying as resuming a dream which — presumably — was there before the birth.  The woman is trying to recall that dream and bring it to mind again.

I’m not dying — at least not that I know of — but this morning, while I did the absolutely essential stuff left undone because of painting and flooring this weekend, I found myself thinking of that story and of “resuming the dream.”

When I was first married, and lived with a book on my right hand while doing every day things, I tried to talk to my mother in law about books.  She said “Just wait till you have children. I too used to read all the time, then I had children.”  Years later, with toddlers around my ankles, she said “Wait till they go to school and you have all the stuff the school sends home to cope with.  Then you’ll know you no longer have time to read.”

Needless to say this never happened. When I was profoundly concussed, I read very slowly, but still read.  I also have been known to read either fanfic or comics through the times when I can’t cope with much mental strain. But I still read.

I claim no great virtue  for this. It’s entirely possible — almost sure, in fact, that reading is an addiction, akin to taking drugs. I do it because I can’t help doing it, not because of intellectual curiosity.  Perhaps it is how I cope with ADD. Because without something to anchor me, I get nothing done.

On the other hand something did slow down while I was raising the boys.  No. Not writing. Since I was first published and put under contract when Robert had just turned 6, I actually did more writing in the last 21 years than before.

No, what I let go was “the dreaming time.”

I might have talked about before — I’m sure I have, but I’m not going to look for the posts now — about how I coped with a highly sickly childhood (mostly because I was born premature I think, but who knows?  Like me, older son seems to have been born with Neanderthal ear canals, which means we catch ear infections at the drop of a hat.  He was a sturdy, busy little boy, but got horribly sick with ear infections often and without warning (Yes, we might have/should have put tubes in, but the ear canals are so peculiar it took a recent visit of his to a specialist to show that WOULD have been beneficial.  Probably would still be for me (I catch ear infections as a toddler does.) but each of the surgeries would run around 15k and both of us have more immediate priorities for our spending. Anyway, who knows how susceptible that rendered me to other stuff.)

Because, even though of course there were antibiotics when I was a kid, in the sixties, Portuguese society hadn’t adapted to them, I used to be isolated from every other kid (and adults not in the family) whenever I was ill.  That was how societies, pre-antibiotics, avoided contagion.

Before I could read, I spent a lot of time in the only bedroom in the house (which was my parents’ but dad traveled during the week, so I slept with mom. I don’t remember — if I ever knew — what arrangements they made when he was home over the weekend, and I was ill.

Sometimes I wonder how different I would be if my parents weren’t the sort of people who pay cash upfront.  I.e. I was born in their 10th year of marriage, but they still lived in the shotgun apartment made out of storage rooms on the bottom floor of grandma’s house to accommodate them on their hasty marriage.  The reason was simple: they were saving to build a house without mortgage.

This meant a myriad of little savings and pinchings, like buying meat scraps normally sold for dogs, and then making it into “11 things stew” (Stew with whatever she could find on sale. Mom’s joke being that it always took eleven things.  But you know, wilted veggies the grocer would just give away, or day old cornbread fried and added on top, or–) Weirdly none of this affected me, probably because mom really was adept at this sort of contriving.  That she insisted on cutting down my brother’s clothing for me DID affect me, because in Portugal at that time it wasn’t normal for girls to dress like scruffy boys.  But admittedly the scruffy was MY fault, and at any rare like the boy named Sue, I have a certain appreciation for what it did to my character.

But what affected my future self most was the fact that the bedroom in which I spent easily 8/10th of the year had no window.

I was — barring illness — a very active little girl. (Clumsy as heck, which means my activity mostly consisted of walking all over and finding things to make or do.) And have I mentioned ADHD? (Which at the time they had no name for.)

When well I would engage in RPGs of my own design (LARPing, really) which was difficult with only one person, but I played all the roles. And I rode my tricycle a LOT.  (That tricycle was a tour bus to exotic — any place not the village — locations, or a shuttle among the stars or a time travel machine.)  I also followed grandma around, because she did entertaining things.  I was rarely still and at rest.  In fact, when I calmed down, people worried I was getting sick.

Which brings us to….

When I was in bed, in a windowless room, with not much to do.

Sure, sometimes I had visitors, like my brother, who was very patient and read me stories.  (Even now in English, I still hear Uncle Remo’s tales  in his voice.)

And I had legos.  I remember building fantastic constructions all over the bed, though mom hated it, because sometimes pieces were forgotten under the covers.

Because I had inherited a lot of pieces, in disjointed sets, from brother and cousins, I actually didn’t know what any of them were supposed to be, so I used pieces that were designed for cars to build houses.  I built very odd looking cities, and trains, and then imagined the lives of the people who lived there.

Actually, imaginary people were most of my entertainment, without or without the help of legos.

On the bedside table of that long ago room, there was a little wooden mushroom house (I find it weird NO ONE in the family knows what happened to it, and I seem to be the only one who really remembers it.  Mom seems to, but she says she has no idea where it went.  And my brother doesn’t remember it at all. OTOH I don’t remember some things he’s been trying to trace from our childhood. Perhaps it’s a Mandela effect thing and we grew up in different parallel worlds?) with a black top, and a yellowish stem, on which someone had painted a little door and a window.

In fact, it was a box, of course, and I have no clue who thought to make it into a “house” or in fact, what crazy friend gave it to my parents.  I know it was a weeding gift, because I asked them where it had come from.  I also have no idea why mom kept it, except perhaps that because they were so poor they kept EVERYTHING.  I know it was in the bedroom because that was where mom put things she had no clue what to do with.

I remember imagining at length the people who lived in that little house and what their family life was like.  I imagined they only came out at night or when the room was empty.

In fact “tiny little people” who lived in various parts of my room became a constant thread in my imaginings until I realized you couldn’t have people that size and retain intelligence.  I’m glad I didn’t realize it earlier. It would have defeated my imaginings of tribes of little humans in the garden, battling the lizards and the snails. (Is this a universal human dream? It appeared so often in early SF/F)

Then there was “other worlds”.  These were both in space and “in other places.”  I never really had a concept of fantasy till my teens, when I read the first fantasy stories, but I had a concept of different times and parallel worlds, though I didn’t call the later that, and had no immediate explanation for them, again, till I read science fiction.

Because I had no window, I imagined one, and looked through it at other worlds, the imaginings sometimes so vivid it was hard to tell from reality.  And I imagined their ways of life, and their language.

Later, even though I had a window, I retained the dreaming habits.  We moved to the new house when I was six, and I was only really sickly for another two years.  Pre-puberty and puberty were good to me and I was fairly healthy (for me) until my mid- thirties. (I wonder if it means that the issues were always, at their root, auto-immune, as that seems to follow this pattern.)

And I started writing some of the worlds and the stories.

Yes, one of them — though a late one, in my late teens — was the DST world.  An earlier one was the multitude of worlds and the peculiar form of transport in what will hopefully become (if I live that long) a vast interweaving universe called Schrodinger Worlds.

Anyway, all this is in the name of: Recently I became aware that some of my friends who are very successful in indie publishing despite doing “everything wrong” as it were, are in fact writing worlds they dreamed of when they were very young.

Perhaps there is some special force to those worlds, some feeling of universal “must exist.”

I have recently finished The Pursuit of the Pankera (thank you for recommends) which deals, to an extent, with that very idea, the idea of tapping or linking with some great universal dream/existence.

Also, recently, my friend John Ringo made a joke about “Was that guy who dictated a book to me exaggerating the truth to make a good tale?”

The book he was talking about was The Last Centurion and I had in fact that morning, at breakfast (the poor man endures a lot) made a not quite in jest comment to my husband about whether the overreaction to Winnie the Flu was driven by a feeling that in a world “next door to ours” the “plague” was far stronger and more horrible?

I know John is not the only one to have this sense that a book was dictated to him. (Ask me about A Few Good Men, where I was metaphorically socmob — standing on the corner minding own business — when suddenly two bad dudes were in my head and telling me their story (If you don’t know what I’m referencing, it’s the studentdoc side and it’s very funny, at least when you’re not crying.))

It’s all very confusing, in that way things are confusing before they’re explained or fully understood.  But there seems to be some reality to these things “dreams are made on.”

And there seems to be a special force to much-dreamed (or occasionally dictated) fiction.  Not just in terms of “it seems to sell” — though I’m not an idiot, and I value accolades in the only form that matters — but in terms of “it must come through.”

Then there is the concept that some stories/dreams can only be told/brought to life by the right person.  I know, for instance, when I’m visited by someone else’s muse, but I’m often helpless to write it. (Though if 2020 hadn’t been so far a stone cold bitch, I’d already have started the book that John’s muse attacked me with, and sent it to him for his touch, so we can collaborate.  Yes, I’ve talked to him about it.) Most of the time it’s a matter of “I’d love to read that story, and I wish I were the right person to write it.”

So…. All this to say, I find myself standing now on the edge of maybe, perhaps, having interior silence (and exterior. The house being quieter helps) enough to restart the dreaming.

And like Bradbury’s character I pause and thing “Now, where was I?”



170 thoughts on “Taking Up The Dreaming

  1. In fact “tiny little people” who lived in various parts of my room became a constant thread in my imaginings until I realized you couldn’t have people that size and retain intelligence. I’m glad I didn’t realize it earlier. It would have defeated my imaginings of tribes of little humans in the garden, battling the lizards and the snails. (Is this a universal human dream? It appeared so often in early SF/F)

    Didn’t it turn up in illuminated manuscripts? I don’t know the prevalence — all I remember is seeing some post collecting a handful of examples — but there were specifically a lot of snails. Although I do not know, I suppose, whether the people were meant to be tiny or the snails to be very large.

  2. I never liked Bradbury much, possibly because my earliest exposure to him was ill-timed and ill-chosen, but it cannot be denied that he had insights into the human soul. Nor that some of his stories, once read, remain in you forever in a manner not true of most authors.

    1. I tried to read Bradbury a couple of times and bounced, hard. Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and Norton were more my style.

      1. Bradbury’s one I can nibble every few years, when I’m in the right mood. Most of the time? No, thanks.

    2. When he died, one Russian wrote about being given him as proof of how evil the USA was, and read him to say, no, this is not capitalist, this is HUMAN.

    1. I had a wave of nostalgia the other day for an old hobby that I did not, realistically, ever really devote much time to. It made me think that a thing I should do was put together a list, sometime, of both books I want to read/reread and projects it crosses my mind to take up or resume, so that if some twenty years from now (or sooner or later), I suddenly find myself feeling at a loss, I can consult it and see if any of them are still inspiring.

      Also, so I can make sure to have copies of the books on hand. Especially since I would probably start those sooner. Or several times, as the case may be.

        1. I’ll confess that one of the greatest thrills I had with “Uncle Remus” was that it’s written in (a good English edition should be written in, not Translated Out Of) a rich Georgia “slave dialect”. I remember some passages were so heavily accented that I had to read them aloud to catch the sense of them. You don’t see many writers use dialect that way, unfortunately.

          1. I remember how Lang left “The Black Bull of Norroway” in the original Scots in the Red Fairy Book. shudder That’s a terrible thing to do to a kid.

          2. Sigh. See, the problem is that this was translated to Portuguese in the Northern dialect, which is kind of the cultural equivalent of Southern. So while under school age, it just sounded NORMAL to me.

          3. I have memories from, I dunno – Second Grade? – of our teacher reading those books to the class.

            Not any more, I’m thinking. Not ever again.-

              1. My recollection, heavily influenced by subsequent observation, is the teacher’s intent was two-fold.

                One was to settle the class after lunch and give us time to digest — as I vaguely recall that being when the reading occurred.

                Second was to persuade us that reading had value justifying the effort. Even back then it seems that most “Early Readers” are determined to persuade kids that reading is a chore and ought only be done when forced to it. B’rer Rabbit was particularly useful as most second-graders are subject to bullying and need an example of using wits.

  3. What’s fun is that I’ve read so much that my actual dreams can follow narrative rules. I’ve not only gotten story fodder from them, I’ve actually sold one.

    Mind you, I still “story myself to sleep”. That started out as fanfic as a child (of course) and eventually evolved into more elaborate setups.

        1. ::LOL:: Oh, I know that too well, as well. Okay, one was old to begin with, and never aged much….but cybernetic modified ….and a bit slipped out of time. (That character gets very, very grumpy as time went on.)

    1. Same here. And I have myself so trained that I get about 30 seconds into the ‘story’ before going out. Used to be fanfic, but eventually morphed into using my Epic’s MC, because he lives rent-free in my head anyway, and I never get bored of him. He’s not impressed. 😀

    2. My “stories to sleep” tend to be fanfics of my own stories at this point. Things like “what if my characters in my urban fantasy were suddenly thrown into a space opera and had to travel together on a chaotic planet in a caravan of hovercrafts…”

      The characters put up with it, as long as I’m only day-into-night dreaming. I’m almost certain Emma would jump out of the book and strangle me if I actually tried to write her in that situation.

  4. I grew up on a small farm in the middle of nowhere. The only real play-mates I had growing up was an older brother, which didn’t work out so well because even in adulthood we are basically oil and water. So I spent a lot of time reading, and a lot of time stuck in my own head. I think it has a lot to do with why I like to write. If I ever figure out how to organize my brain-space, and my real-space time well enough, I might finally finish something and publish.

    Most of the time it’s a matter of “I’d love to read that story, and I wish I were the right person to write it.”

    Hey, I recognize that feeling! I even talked about it with a friend once. She said “With all that writing you do, all those weird stories; WHY is THIS one the one you don’t think you’re the person to write it?” Sadly, I could never come up with an answer.

      1. Hell, in my case, so far the stories I think ARE “for me” have been huge messes. However, slowly but surely I’m learning. Eventually I’ll figure it out. 🙂

        I have a good job, other than the fact that it cuts into my writing time/energy, it keeps my family fed and non-homeless. So I can’t complain. It’s just… My cubicle doesn’t have a window, so my imagination creates one and through it I see all those characters from the stories in my head, just milling about waiting for me to write their stories.

        1. Buy Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the selling Writer. Read it once. Then read it a second time and make notes. Then read it a third time and make the notes better.
          Then try again. That book took me and then husband and then older son from unpublishable messes to pros. In a month in each case.

          1. I’ll second Swain. Whenever I start having serious problems, I go back, re-read him, and usually find the solution to why I’m heading into the technical weeds.

  5. My daydreams go Odd places, usually not so healthy places. Which suggests that I need to step back and sort out what’s going on and why. Yes, I LARPed a lot of things in my head, and in the back yard when I was younger.

  6. And least books don’t leave a hangover. Unless the characters hanging out in my head for the next week count. I guess I’ll have to read another book to get these characters to go away.

    1. I don’t know… There have been a few books over the years that I was SO looking forward to, and got so deeply into when I got them that I read them in one sitting, concentrating hard, trying not to miss a single thing. I felt pretty hung over when those were finished.

      1. Well, there was the time I completed the LoTR in < 1 week. But worst I remember was a random celtic fantasy epic written by a lady with literal blue skin… (I can't remember the author's name or the title of the epic, but the blue skin stuck) that I read Friday, all-day Saturday, maybe Sunday too? I don't recall how long just that forgetting to eat and move made me feel really odd when I finished. Kinda empty too.

        1. When an anticipated new release comes out, no matter how long, my goal and vow “I will make this last. I will savor it.” Most series are yearly (ish) releases. A few are years between … regardless I make the vow … I’ve been yet to succeed in fulfilling that vow … dang it!!!

          The hangover effect is real. I have experienced it …

        2. A day or so before my senior year HS English final, I discovered James Blish’s Cities in Flight series. (I actually read the last novel in the series the summer before, not knowing it was a series–meh, book selection in vacation spots is spotty.)

          Got hooked in. Badly enough so that I made it to the final on zero hours sleep. Mercifully, I had the subject matter down cold, and if my essay answers were a bit disjointed, Mrs. Shaw was well-trained. (Middle Brother had her in 6th grade and then in highschool, and they did *not* get along.) I was a breeze compared to Middle Brother.

          1. “Got hooked in. Badly enough… …zero hours of sleep.”

            My initial response was “I hate when that happens”… only upon reflection, I think if I’m never hooked in by another book in that way, it would make me sad.

            Not to mention that I aspire to one day be good enough to WRITE the books that do that…

          2. Zero hours of sleep is better than too few for many people. (For me, the trade-off is less than five.)

            1. I got lots of practice at all-nighters in college. Physics 106, my lab partners and I took forever to do a lab report (but had fun doing so). Aced the damned things, so it was worth it…

              Come junior year, however, I did grow to dislike hearing the birds starting their morning songs when I pulled an all nighter. :/

    2. So the next book is basically the hair of the dog?

      Kind of reinforces Sarah’s suggestion that books are like drugs for some. “I can quit reading any time I want!
      No, YOU have a problem!”

  7. I’ve had a few vivid dreams that would have made great stories, if I remembered them, and I regret not writing them down. The most recent one stared as a confusing nightmare where I was on an elite team that was invading some compound. Our handheld communications/control gear not only didn’t work, but was targeting us for weapons fire. We were technologically entirely outclassed. The mission (whatever it was) was busted, and after watching one of our buffed and armored team members get killed trying to get through or out, I had just decided that we had been set up and thrown away by our superiors…the rage woke me up. [No, I have never even been close to a firefight…this was pure dreamstuff].

    1. You must be picking up John Ringo or Tom Kratman’s psychic E-mail. Maybe it got bcc’d?

      1. Well, the nightmarish aspect (where nothing works, and everything you try goes unreasonably and horribly awry, rather like Wile E. Coyote’s Roadrunner catching schemes) is more or less familiar. From waking life, too. The military part…not so much.

        1. this sounds a lot like parts of the second Alldenata novel, but from a personal view.

  8. Is this a universal human dream? It appeared so often in early SF/F

    And mythology, and folk-lore, and pretty much everywhere else.

    “Like us, but different size” is pretty easy to imagine!

  9. You made it through the kids taking your attention.
    But will the cats let you lie about dreaming?

  10. I had inherited a lot of [Lego] pieces, in disjointed sets

    Once upon a time, long, long ago, Legos were sold in bulk — assorted pieces of various sizes without ANY presumption of what kids would make of them. Hard to believe, I know, but the idea of a Lego kit, with pre-determined assembly design, was anathema to the Lego Principle of free design within strict parameters.

    Verrückt, ich weiß … or, as Legos are of Danish origin, perhaps that ought be, Skøre, jeg ved.

    Crazy, I know. But that’s our world.

    1. I had the same thought – I guess that puts me of a certain age, for when I was a mere sprout Legos were an un-scripted toy, not “put this together exactly so and you will get a toy you can no longer play with,” which sounds more like punishment than fun for a kid.

    2. I hate the kits. My kids would build the kits once then break them apart and build their own stuff — forts, guns, and vehicles mostly. If we were lucky they’d show us the kit once on the day. My sister’s kids built them entirely to the instructions and put them on display. Both her boys are at Dartmouth, but my kids are more adaptable and much lower maintenance. I have no regrets, not that I could stop them.

      The director of the Bovington Tank Museum had a video up about JFC Fuller. Fuller was a nasty piece of work — a genuine fascist (he drafted the BUF rules) a bigot and a satanist (he was friends with Aleister Crowley). He was also a genius who literally wrote the book on tank warfare in WWI. The director pointed out that we now seemed to want our creative people and our geniuses to be conformists and that creativity and conformism don’t often go together.

      I live in the heart of the suburban strivers jungle. What college sticker the parents get to put on the car is a matter of life and death. Poor kids live entirely curated lives organized around what looks good on an Ivy application. The lucky ones have daddy buy them a charity. It’s just stupid since the kids come out knowing more that isn’t so than they did when they got in and they are so afraid to make a mistake. No free play lego for them.

      1. I still have the duck robot warrior with gun hands that Marshall made when he was 3.
        He told me the story of the duck…. so I kept it. ALL this time.

        1. My wife pointed out that the kids used Lego to build all the stuff we wouldn’t buy them.

    3. We could never afford Legos; I had hand-me-down American Bricks and Tinker Toys (both old enough to be real wood), and tho patterns existed, there was no such thing as a pre-determined kit. I remember being horrified the first time I saw a Legos kit — good grief, are you only allowed to do one thing with it??!

      1. I can’t claim the originality or independence of some of the company here, but I don’t think it ever occurred to me that the kit instructions imposed an actual obligation…

      2. Tinker toys, Lincoln logs, Erector sets (although those would include plans for multiple projects) and … ummmm … I don’r recall what their name was; Kenner something, I think: a bunch of snap-together girders and plastic panels which popped onto pegs on the sides of the girders.

        Okay – Duch, duck, gone and found it: Kenner Girder and Panel Building Sets. With such a great product name I can’t understand how they ever disappeared.

        1. Erector Sets. Hubby has a story as a kid. One Christmas there were two Erector sets under the tree. HE presumed that they were one for him and one for his brother, you know, one each; this WAS Christmas 1958, VS one of their sisters would be interested. Brother presumed both sets were for HIM. Given his brother was 12, Hubby was 6 (almost 7), older brother “won” the argument (or the story goes). Brother just gleefully admits it, now, after all he was the budding mechanic. Reality? They shared, more or less.

    4. “,,,was anathema to the Lego Principle of free design within strict parameters.”

      And here we see the entire premise of The Lego Movie.

    5. I’m not sure when Legos became popular, but as a kid, it was more Lincoln Logs, Tinker toys, and my favorite, the Erector set. A classmate had the Meccano set, but IMHO, other than the fact that the pieces were shinier, no functional difference. On the gripping hand, his set was relatively new. Ours was elderly and much played with.

      Grampa Pete was Dansk, but he didn’t bring back Legos.The bulk would have been an issue, so for small gifts, a shiny Kroner piece was cool..

  11. you couldn’t have people that size and retain intelligence.

    If intelligence is a quantum function, not determined by number of brain cells but by types …

    1. Alternatively, if “size” in our four-dimensional perception is unrelated to size in, say, seven-dimensional interfaces, and intelligence is an aspect of that seven-dimensional persona projected into our four …

      Let’s just say there clearly are work-arounds on that size limitation, including some that would grant magical abilities to the wee folk.

    2. Elephant brains have several [internet search] THREE times the neurons of human brains and occupy a much larger volume, so the obvious question is not where are the elephant iPhones, but rather why won’t they tell us some stories, or even share what they are thinking about (besides “Mmm, now that’s some tasty bark right there”).

      1. But the Elephant’s body is much larger than the human body.

        Besides the size of the brain, there is the brain/body ratio.

        For humans, that ratio is larger than the ratio for Elephants.

        About the only brain/body ratio that comes close to (or exceeds) the human brain/body ratio is the dolphin.

        Which why some believe that the dolphins may be as intelligent (or more) as humans.

        1. Depends on what kind of brain tissue, tho. Whales have relatively big brains but most of it is devoted to auditory stuff; there’s very little of what we’d call grey matter.

          But doesn’t matter if dolphins are geniuses… they’re not physically equipped to do anything with it.

          Spotted hyenas are perhaps more intelligent than chimps (unlike chimps, hyenas understand mirrors at a glance, and can perform cooperative tasks without being trained to it) and were perhaps on their way to walking upright — but somewhere along the way they lost the dewclaw and all chance to evolve an opposable thumb. Otherwise they might have become serious rivals to the hominids.

          1. You don’t *have* to have an opposable thumb for fine work. The American opossum (Didelphis Virginiana) had true hands instead of feet. Better than any primate, including humans – longer thumb, more directly opposed to all fingers. But their fore-hands are different – the fingers can all group together like a paw, or they can spread apart over about 270 degrees, more like a starfish. The fingers are opposable. *And* they have a prehensile tail like some monkeys.

            Opossums are commensal with humans. They were nearly extinct in North America until the first settlers arrived, and then they cozied up to the newcomers. Their population distribution shows how they accompanied the Gold Rush settlers west, and it’s still expanding.

        2. Did you ever wonder why there are no dolphins in the Bay of Biscay?
          I believe it was because they met the humans there and were appalled. They eat anything.
          It is no wonder they’re now known as the Lost Dolphins of France.

          1. Is that what that chattering sound means? “Stay away from the Land Monkeys! They eat EVERYTHING!!”

            1. As it is well known that wallabies are fluent in Dolphinese I hasten to inform you that no, amusing as that would be, what they are actually doing is telling jokes you would not care to repeat to your mother (or father) — not simply because they are rude but they generally are not funny.

              Dolphins are known throughout the animal kingdom as low-brow, corny and coarse. Not at all like wallabies, or even elephants (who do tell some great shaggy-dog tales.)

              1. well, mostly shaggy elephant tales. and boy, they have a mammoth of a punchline.

                1. You know, Draven, you’re lucky I like you. (In fact I was telling Dan I had to send you something last week, and now I can’t remember WHAT. If I had a brain, I’d be dangerous.)

    3. You can have people our size and not retain intelligence.

      We call them leftists.

      Hell, some are even bigger than me.

  12. Muses are strange creatures.

    Mine keeps wanting to create westerns, a genre I was exposed to mostly through my father’s love of them. Now I’m reading and watching them aplenty so I can give the little *redacted* some of what she wants.

      1. About two episodes into that show, Elf and I had to admit the buddy who had pushed it to us was right:
        The Mandalorian is the best western of our time.

        1. Rumor mill has it there’s a significant lobbying effort inside the House of the Mouse to do a retheme of at least one park’s “Galaxy’s Edge” to The Mandalorian since it’s so much vastly more popular across the fan base than any of the Kennedy-era movie trilogy.

  13. Twenty-two comments thus far (admittedly, four of them mine) and nobody’s dropped a mention of the Australian Aborigine concept of The Dreaming?

    Admittedly, I’m not particularly familiar with it, having mostly only met it in the pages of certain comic books (and comic book based properties) but it seems relevant to this and merits engagement.

    By persons other than moi.

    1. The Dreamtime is . . . interesting. I have four books of Dreamtime stories, and they range from “just so” type “this is why swans are black” to really grim and terrifying “don’t do that, mmkay?” tales. Given that they’re probably somewhat expurgated, and that they are the ones outsiders and women and the uninitiated are permitted to know, the Dreamtime is both fascinating and scary. Add in each Aboriginal group having it’s own ancestors and stories, and there’s a lot of material there.

  14. I understand this so well. I moved so much, I had so few friends. I stared making up stories in my head. My Barbies were the story telling aid when I was little, and then moved to art. (It’s why I call Daz, playing with digital paper dolls.)

    When I initially tried to become published, and the only route was traditional, I kept this so tight to the chest. I listened enough to hear the derision and utter hatred for those who wrote stories of their heart. Now, I get a little, very little, interest from pico-presses, but I would have to write to spec, and I have no desire anymore to write to market. I only want to deal with ‘works of the heart’.

      1. Indie came at the wrong time for me.

        It hasn’t helped that I mainly wrote down ‘scenes’ and trying to string together all those scenes is something I’m still having a hard time figuring out. And finding help with that? let me laugh. The people in trad, told me to dump everything and just forget it. And every writing group I was ever in, only did short stories or the first 5000 words. ::sigh::

        1. That’s the part I’m working on.

          Applying the cycle of the hero, and reading about narrative structure and stuff has helped– I’ve now got three stories from the known world, to the unknown world, met up with their help and handed their first quest. THEN it turns back into bits, and one of them I have a section that says something like “they meet (plot dude) at least three more times” before showing how he’s beat as quest #1 to set the party up.

          1. I’m laughing, because some of that is what I have. Some of the other stuff is just “missing”, because I don’t know what goes on before or after, but I didn’t want to lose the scene I did have. (And thank you alarm clock for not letting my subconscious end that one dream which was just amazing. ::sigh::. So I have a complete setup, a beginning which freaks people out, and no idea yet on how to ‘stick the landing’!)

        2. Oh, I hear you there. I get a scene in my head, and the words just pour out. Then they stop. The scene is often quite far removed from where I’ve gotten to in writing the ‘linear’ part of the story, weeks or months in the future, and I have only a vague idea of what comes in between.

          I call those connecting parts the ‘mortar’ because they are necessary to hold the story together. Without it you’ve just got a jumble of scenes. Writing the ‘mortar’ is hard work, and can be tedious. I have to be sure it’s not tedious to READ, though!

          On one story, I had chapters 9, 11, 12 and 13 finished before chapter 5. Then unexpected things happened in chapters 8 and 10, and I had to revise some of the ‘finished’ chapters. I think it has turned out pretty good so far, though. Right now I’m sort of stuck in chapter 41, but I’ve got scenes done that will end up out past chapter 45.

          My take on it is, if a scene wants to be written, write it. Words on the page (or screen) are rarely a waste.
          Mollari: “Perhaps it was something I said?”
          G’Kar: “Perhaps it is everything you say.”

          1. I feel the same way, but it does lead to wondering how to write the ‘mortar’ as well. (I called it the ‘segues’.) I’ve tried just plunking them out, but they feel like they are just “filler”.

          1. Hey, that’s how I broke in.
            Like surviving after being born very premature, this is a show of my stubbornness.
            I was so sure that’s how one broke in, that I ACTUALLY MANAGED IT.
            This despite the fact that when I broke in (we calculated it) it was easier to sell a novel than a short….

          2. Oh, I figured that out. And oh, you should have heard the OUTCRY I got at one writing group when I asked, “What’s the difference between being published in a fanzine and being published in a no-pay/no-royalty literary anthology/magazine?”

            That and a few other things I have said, pointing out just basic numbers and facts, really gets peoples shorts in a jimmy.

            I, also, figured out the basics of being trad published.
            1) There are five big publishers, which are distributer or out right own every imprint that has any push. (i.e. Control the industry.)
            2) Of those entities, how many titles are put out per month.
            3) Of those titles, how many are from complete newbies.
            4) Of those complete newbies, how many have no “connections”.

  15. “Because I had inherited a lot of pieces, in disjointed sets, from brother and cousins, I actually didn’t know what any of them were supposed to be, so I used pieces that were designed for cars to build houses.”

    I recall reading, perhaps in The Year of Living Danishly,” where an employee of Lego commented that the German kids all built the models exactly as they were laid out, but Americans didn’t care what the picture on the box was. I’ve seen you write that you were always American even before you knew it. Just more proof.

          1. *laughs* I just grabbed some of the big Memorial Day decorative tubs for the kids’ lego-ish pile. (We have a lot of the cheap minifig sets, because mommy cannot stand to pay $10 for an inch tall doll.)

          2. I remember them coming in pails … although you couldn’t go to the store and buy them by the gallon, which would have been really nice. They should have sold them like bulk goods, “Give me a scoop of red 2 by 8s, one of white, a small scoop each of reds and of whites 2 by 4s. Another small scoop of 1 by 2s, just the white, thanks. Ooh! Add a scoop of the flat green base pieces, and a big scoop of roof pieces!”

        1. sometimes plastic bags. especially at garage dales… which is where i always for them, as well as erector sets, the aforementioned Kenner building sets, and the plastic rods with the 20 sided joins that had a tendency to break at the tip… (got one new for xmas, bought a lot of partial sets at garage sales when other kids broke half the rods)

  16. “And there seems to be a special force to much-dreamed (or occasionally dictated) fiction.”

    I sure hope so. Been noodling with the skywatchers for years and I’ve never felt able to capture the characters just right. But i figure its now or never and I’m about 3 quarters of the way through book 1. I’m fighting to escape the saggy middle.

    These guys have been haunting me since I was 17. Damned roc riders never leave me alone!

    Btw Sarah, are you still working on that one you posted a snippet of awhile back? The one about the prince’s bodyguard who had to assassinate him? I don’t mean to be a bother but I was kinda excited for that one. ☺️

  17. You might be lucky they didn’t treat your ear infections with antibiotics. Knew a girl from Columbia who had lupus. Told me there was a lot of it there leading them to studying it extensively. Found a correlation between exposure to antibiotics in early childhood and a high risk of developing lupus. My sister-in-law was practically born with ear infections and developed lupus in her 30s..

    1. ound a correlation between exposure to antibiotics in early childhood and a high risk of developing lupus. My sister-in-law was practically born with ear infections and developed lupus in her 30s..

      Niece is the same way. She did end up with drainage tubes until she outgrew the problem. But before then repeated roll through of antibiotics. She has Lupis, diagnosed in her late 20’s, she is not early 30’s. Son had repeated ear infections too throughout early childhood. He however never got tubes, doctor warned against them because his ear canals 100% dried out properly between bouts. OTOH he could only take one antibiotic as he is allergic to a lot of the commonly used other ones.

      1. Another example was an aunt, way back in the day, hit with such a high dose of sulfa drugs that I believe it cost her a kidney. And yes, she developed lupus

    2. Er… what makes you think they didn’t?In fact I have crappy teeth from being treated with antibiotics that were never given to people in the US when I was 2 or 3.
      The culture hadn’t adapted. Doesn’t mean they DIDN’T use antibiotics.

  18. Yes, it’s interesting how universal the idea of little people is. Giants too. I suppose that it’s a natural impulse. “What if people, but bigger/smaller?” On the other hand, the discoveries of Homo floresiensis and Gigantopithecus show that maybe they’re a lingering folk memory of prehistoric times.

    1. I suppose I am one of the few people left who doesn’t think that They are merely an idea.

      1. Old man at the bar, in the 70s, on Saint Pat’s– he’s asked about if he believes in the ‘Little Folk.’

        “Oh, ach, o’course not!” He pauses, takes a drink. “But I know they’re there.”

        1. “I’m not afraid of the Little People. I’m extremely nervous about the Bosses of the Little People.” 😉

    2. I remember an Asimov piece in the TV Guide way back when, explaining how Land of the Giants was fun but impossible — the Inverse Square Law and limitations of the amount of load human bones could bear meant that any giant above a certain not terribly impressive height would result in a broke pelvis — a condition severely restricting fee-fie-foe-fumming about.

      Back when a five-foot human was deemed tall it was probably easier to have actual giants (comparatively.) Anybody topping seven feet (as some freaks likely did) would be impressive as all get out.

      1. I can vouch that it’s flat-out funny to see folks who are use to being eye to eye or more at 6′ ft suddenly deal with “I look straight forward and see sternum.” Especially if they don’t remember that being normal (childhood) very well.

        Watching the relatively rare guy sent to interview the bigger football players involves body language even I can catch. 😀

        1. I really liked the scene in ‘Winterfair Gifts’ where Armsman Roic met Taura. He was so used to being taller than most people, it was so much a part of his ‘this is the way the world IS’ map…

          And then this woman got out of the car, and towered half a meter over HIM, and his whole world spun around.

          And he finally got it. “This is how Milord sees…EVERYBODY. Even his own wife.”

          1. I can vouch it’s sincerely strange to suddenly have almost nobody who is taller than you, when you’re accustomed to being short.

            Digression: the “average height” charts are insanely wrong. No idea why, but they are– I’m at what is supposed to be average height, or slightly over.
            No way, not even after accounting for heels. There are not that many women wearing four to six inch heels, especially when I can see they’re wearing flipflops.

            1. I joke that the worst thing about no longer filling in with the middle grades as a sub is that I can’t see over the students anymore. Passing period went from “the Red Sea” (color of uniform shirts and jackets) to walking through a forest. 🙂

            2. My wife is convinced folks are shrinking. I’m 6’2″ and she swears she doesn’t see as many men my height as she once did. Of course we are in among lots of retired so the old guys might be even more shrunken than I am.

              1. Age does seem to have a lot to do with it– maybe that’s what the root of the disjoint is, adding those very old folks who are kinda curled up and tiny to the average?

                Oddly enough, I was already thinking about this– because I’m watching the English language stream of NHK (Japanese news TV) and I noticed that the people looked different in the new stuff, beyond clothing– the guys who would’ve been about my age when we were stationed there, about 15 years ago, are a lot more common. And there’s maybe one in ten of the guys who are really tall. And they’re now actually showing up on TV. Was a cool show about helping city folks understand where their food comes from, and one of the founder-type guys was one of the really tall college kid types…a decade or two later. 😀 The farmer side guy had such a lovely “corn fed country boy” vibe that it was delightful.

                Still not many of the taller women, though.

              2. My husband is a bit over six foot, too– he’s noticed a big regional difference. El Paso, obviously, had fewer tall guys– the Seattle Blob was about “normal” compared to SoCal of 20-30 years ago, and the DC area, while our area of Iowa has a lot more tall (and big— like, “if he goes for a horse ride, who’s in the saddle?” type big) people.

                1. The men at my co-op job were smaller than the men at college. I noticed this the time I had to visit college during the job.

            3. I checked on that a couple of months ago. They say average height for the U.S. is 5′ 9″ for men, 5′ 6″ for women. I’m…a little below average mumble mumble…

              Still, I see lots of people shorter than me. Maybe there are enough extreme outliers to skew average height significantly above median height?

              Funny thing is, some people say they’re 5′ 9″, or more, but they’re shorter than me. Is there something wrong with my tape measure? Or theirs? Is there some secret way to measure yourself and get a different result?
              “No capes!!” — Edna Mode

              1. That’s actually taller than I’ve seen stated for average heights, by an inch or three.

                Do you wear boots? (like, workboots)
                And are they over average age? Mom still says she’s 5’4, but we’re the same height or I’m a bit taller, now.

              2. I am inclined to disregard* such categorical assertions as “Average Adult [Male] Height” in favor of (for example) “Average [Male] Height By Age Cohort.” This latter benefits by not commingling men born in the Forties and those born in the Nineties, an interval sufficient to cause us to be comparing grandfathers with grandsons where you would expect average heights to be greater simply by natural process.

                By looking at age cohort you are both doing a better job of comparing “like-to-like” but also better demonstrating the generational differences in height.

                *Admittedly, I’m inclined to disregard a great many “official” statistics, as well as many another thing people want me to consider “important.”

                1. My brother got all the tall in the family, but I really don’t think my stopping at 5’2″ can reasonably be attributed to medical inadequacies….

                  …I’m clearly travel-sized for my own convenience. (Seriously, I was the perfect height for airplanes back when I had occasion to fly. I could generally get my own luggage up to the overhead, but I only had to duck a little and never had any real trouble with leg room.)

                2. Cool thing, it’s something like 1/4 of the time, an exceptionally tall father will have an exceptionally short son, and then the grandson will be exceptionally tall.

                  I don’t know if it works for women, just one of those odd tidbits I’ve run into, kind of like how redheads or blue eyes can show up most anywhere. ^.^

            4. The other way around. when in a group of women, I was used to being the tallest. (I have pictures from all girl’s school to prove it.)
              When in a group of both men and women I was usually the second or third tallest.
              …. Walking in a mall with a bunch of friends during my exchange student year, I started feeling uneasy, and finally realized it was because I couldn’t find my reflection in the group reflection in shop windows.
              …. I was on the shorter end….

  19. Dreams are funny things as you all know. Could a part of their constructs be inherited memory? I saw a Jordan Peterson Lecture a while ago in which he said that if you show an infant a picture of a snake it will cry, as if the fear of snakes is in the hard-code. If that is so, one wonders what else may be twisted in the strands of existence. Frank Hebert explored that in the Dune series, taking it to the extreme of saying that all the memories of a person are passed down to their progeny. I really didn’t like that as a plot device but it made him a butt load of money.
    Personally, I feel that dreams fall into a few categories:
    Dreams try to instruct you;
    Warn you
    Punish you
    Reward you.
    It may depend on your personality and circumstances.
    Most of mine seem to fall into the punishment category:
    Ever been chased across the landscape by Godzilla for seven reels? (The original, not the tarted up nouveau-zilla)

  20. …yes, reading is like a drug. You are transported to a place that exists only on the pages and seeing it in your mind. Everything else around you just fades away…

  21. We share our brains with others.

    God. Devil. Independent entities in our brains. We are the front “man” for our varied brains and “subconscious”. We are the one to make “sense” of the universe. We tell stories to help us make sense.

    Dreams seem a meeting place for the others to visit. The best example: Writing late at night, would fall asleep, but keep typing. The good thing; whoever was typing could touch type. The bad news; Had to delete everything this other entity typed, because it had nothing to do with MY novel. This typing involved actual words, and sentences. One strange contribution: “My blog is the frog I am not.” One long contribution (paragraph long), included metaphor. It was clearly the work of a “conscious” mind thinking and typing. If only I could have worked a deal with this entity to type MY story while I slept. Or is a third party feeding “me” their story?

    If my fingers type, but I am asleep, who gets the credit? Or blame? The scary thought: Another mind shares my brain. It isn’t me. Or is it?

    So who is in charge in our dreams? God clearly speaks in dreams. Is the devil responsible for nightmares? Is our subconscious our muse? Who am I?

    1. When I talk to myself I look inside to see
      Somewhere in here there’s more than one of me.
      When I’m roaming in the gloaming
      The twilight of my mind
      I look for myself to see what I will find.

  22. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and out little life is rounded with a sleep.” The Tempest, Act IV, Scene 1.

  23. Sounds like a variation on “automatic writing,” where a 19th-century person would zone out and produce page after page of material, usually from a “spirit guide.” I remember reading about one author who would put the pen in his off-hand and get pages of manuscript.

    I also seem to remember that lots of this material, from multiple authors, was very similar. Mind you, we’re talking Spiritualists, here. All convinced they had helpful, advanced spirits contacting them to give them the good news about the afterlife…which was portrayed as being kind of prosaic, actually.

    1. I was not trying to do this. This is not hypnosis, where your conscious zones out, but full normal sleep. I do fall asleep very easily.

      The devil is quite prepared to offer us advice. In this case, one of my subconscious sentences included “…as this is the place of crucifixion…” So I suspect the evil one was not involved.

      I know a lot about hypnosis, and its power. That feels different. This is just my sleeping, and “someone” taking advantage of the fact that “they” know how to type, using both hands.

      I have also heard God, or someone who does a very good imitation. My moniker comes from my having prayed for a gift of the spirit, and given a gift of poetry/prophecy. So I am a charismatic Calvinist. I wrote no poetry prior to turning 50, since, thousands. In church I turn a sermon into a poem from God as the preacher preaches. What is weird, sometimes prior to the sermon, during the praise time, I hear a poem that turns out to be related to the sermon. Since our pastor does not just read a sermon, but goes from notes, and talks for almost an hour in a stream, there is no way I could know what he was going to say. He doesn’t know what he is going to say. He tells me we both just heard the same voice.

      So the universe is very weird. Paradoxical at its heart. Where do ideas come from? How do we know who’s voice we hear?

  24. Yes, this. I spent so much of my childhood putting myself into the stories I read. And, trying like hell to figure out if I was telekinetic or could read minds. I think that’s why I’m most drawn to urban fantasy stuff. I keep thinking/hoping that I’ll walk around a corner one day and find out I have some kind of magical power or like Harry Potter, somebody shows up out of nowhere and introduces me to some fantastic world.

    What I’m working on now is in that vein. I’m editing the first book and trying to figure out the second. Like a few people have said, I have a great beginning, and I’m pretty sure I know how it’s going to end, but it’s the in-between bits that are driving me crazy right now. I’m really grateful that indie is here and viable because I know that’s the only way I’m getting anything out there.

  25. I dreamed I ran down the road for 3 miles at a 20 mph sprint the whole way.

    Which is considerably better than the reality of a 1/4 mile at a slow jog before I have to walk the next 1/4 mile, rinse and repeat a half dozen time.

  26. I guess you have to be somewhat of an exhibitionist to be a writer.

    I have dreams that stay with me, but they’re essentially some part of my mind kicking my ass. And they are deeply personal. I’ve told exactly one person the details of the least sensitive of them, and she’s married to me.

    Ever have a dream that incorporates outside sounds? Well when I was about 20 I had a dream that incorporated a song that was playing on the radio. Since then it’s been hard not to think of that dream whenever I hear that song, and the dream still brings tears to my eyes.

    Nobody is going to know what the song, or the dream, is. But it was basically some part of my mind saying “listen up motherfucker, there are more important things than being afraid, even of dying. Or, in fact, dying”.

            1. This is a very good way to put it, too– almost never me-me, but there’s generally me-a-character-that-I-can-relate-to-like-I-do-me.

                1. I just got to thinking, and if I’m “me” in my dreams, it’s almost always bad.

                  The only not-bad one I can think of right now was a snippet and it still freaked me out– I was on the Justice League headquarters/base, explaining something to Batman, Aquaman and somebody else big I didn’t recognize, and I got a tension headache. Took a step back, did the nose pinch to try to stop it– look up and I’m being loomed over by all three. Batman growls something about if I’m alright. Woke up in a cold sweat.

                  Bleepin’ super heroes are too tall, *and* wear boots.

                  1. I dream future snippets of about 1 minute. They are accurate prophecies, but usually wildly out of context.
                    Like when younger son was having problems in sixth grade, I had this dream snippet where we were dressed up and waiting by the door and late teens (16, turns out) Marshall comes downstairs in a suit and Dan says “Come on, son. You don’t want to be late for your court date.”
                    …. happened. His first year of college, driving himself, he got a speeding ticket. The beater he was driving didn’t show speeds, so not entirely his fault.)
                    That was it.

              1. It’s the occasions when dream-me thinks that waking up means dissolution that are weird. Rare, but memorable.

          1. Sleeping dreams, I am always the central character. Sometimes I’m playing a role, and I’m always aware of what exact role I’m playing and it’s always definitely me playing it.

            Daydreams vary a bit, but I’m still usually the central character. If I’m not a character in the show I’m still ‘present’ as the observer/narrator, and aware that I’m narrating.

            1. Uh.
              Sleeping dreams: Sometimes. I’d say about 20% of the time I’m in it.
              Daydreams: not at all, not from a very young age. Daydreams are stories that form in my mind, period.

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