Ever wake from a nightmare and sigh with relief? Or spend a morning feeling unsettled, before realising it all stemmed from a dream?
It’s amazing how dreams affect our moods. It’s amazing how dreams reflect our moods too. Last night I dreamt I had an English assignment due the next day and had nothing prepared (yes, I’d reversed thirty years in age and was back in high school). I also had an exam the next day for which I’d done no study. In the dream I was trying to reassure myself, asking myself calmly, ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen? You won’t get a good mark. No big deal.’ But it was a big deal. I wanted a high mark. I was panicked and upset.
These ‘school exam dreams’ seem to happen to many people, often years down the track. Maybe it’s when we’re under pressure, maybe when it’s when we feel somehow inadequate for whatever we’re facing. For me, I suspect it’s because I have several stories under consideration and I’m waiting and hoping and crossing fingers and toes.
How about you? Do you dream of exams too?
I remember her biting wit, her intelligence, her brisk kindness. I hadn’t seen her in over twenty-five years. The other day, I heard her voice and saw her face from the end of the operating table. She was about to be anaesthetised for surgery. I was the surgical assistant.
I tried not to stare but her eyes kept scanning my face, despite the staff who were busying around her. I think she sensed I was someone she’d once known, but couldn’t place me. She was being given sedation and I knew she wouldn’t recall any conversation from that point onwards. It wasn’t the time to speak of the past – she had enough to deal with in the present. Within minutes, she was given the thick white liquid that sent her into oblivion.
I told the surgeon of my long-ago link with the patient, and although she knew some of her patient’s life story, I filled in a few more details. Mostly, how much her patient was respected and admired. She had sass, she had smarts and I thought she was the ants pants.
Wish I could have told her so.
I really did it. Quit my job, walked away. Left a perfectly respectable position that gave me status, respect and good pay to try something for which I have little training and dubious aptitude. Sometimes I can hardly believe what I’ve done. Thank goodness I have a small part-time job in the pipeline and a supportive husband!
Strangely, I’m not sad. If anything, I’m a little relieved. I think I was ready to move on. But with the relief there is also a huge fear – the fear of failure, fear of mediocrity, fear that I’ll find myself floundering and uncertain and rudderless as a writer. I’m trying to sit with that fear. ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. That sort of thing. I figure this is all normal.
I’ve started a couple of stories since the big change. Both seemed like good ideas when I began but withered, mid-story. I’m unsure whether to persevere and see what they’re like once completed or whether to cut my losses. The usual writer’s dilemma, I suppose. I tell myself that all writing is good practice, whether the story ends up being ‘a winner’ or not.
Guess I’ll go see what I can do with those dodgy stories now …