Break the mirror

I had a dream last night where I was walking around with a printed copy of my latest book and asking people for their advice on the title (in reality, I’m quite happy with the title I’ve chosen). One of the people I asked was completely confused by both the title I preferred (in my dream it was some bizarre concoction) and its alternative. And she seemed to be more or less bothered by the whole thing— a study in disinterest. The other person I asked made some non-committal remark and then started showing me a new art and music app he had created for his mobile phone. This blew me away, I forgot about my book, and woke up thinking just what a strange thing it is all we who write do.

I don’t know much about dream analysis, and generally think that they are a way for our unconsciousness minds to deal with issues that our conscious minds have been dwelling on; a way to clean out our mental shops, if you will. So what does my dream say about my mind? Clearly that I’m very self-conscious about my writing. So why show it to others at all? Why spend hours upon hours slavishly devoted to a project that will more likely than not have very little impact on the world around me? Why not just write because I enjoy it and then keep everything for myself?

These are hard questions, and if I’m honest I’ll admit that although I’m extremely embarrassed to talk about my own work, and tread on a bed of nails when I show it to someone I know personally, I do actually have some measure of confidence in my work and think that others too will get something out of it. This is not to say that I think what I do is groundbreaking or newsworthy by any stretch of the imagination, but basically I think it’s okay. And one encouraging trend I’ve noticed is that strangers enjoy my work far more than people I actually know—and I’ve thought about this often.

I think that it’s very easy to be dismissive of the work done by people in our lives for a number of reasons. For one, our modern cultures have glorified the seeking of approval to such an astonishing degree that it seems like we all need to be applauded for something to establish a sense of self-worth. This of course makes people seek those kudos among their circle of friends and family. Another reason is the tools now available to all of us—anyone creative can make any number of wonderful ideas come alive using modern technology. And let’s not forget that pesky ego we all have—screaming for others to like us and insisting that we leave some kind of legacy while dismissing others with the reasoning that, “He’s no better than me!” We all have a very hard time seeing the good in others because we’re staring at ourselves. But when a stranger picks up your book your name means nothing to them, it’s just a string of letters on the cover. When they read your work they’ll be judging it on its content only, a far different approach than a friend will take (whose personal impression of you will keep getting in the way). So I say keep at it. Make your writing public and nuts to the naysayers, there’s far more potential for people to enjoy your work out there than any of us realize.

Next week, Paul j Rogers re-posts about writing rules.

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One Comment

  1. Paul
    Posted June 17, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    All dreams are unfulfilled conscious wishes — Freud!
    I get some good ideas at night. Then I look at them in the morning and think, not so much.

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