My dreams are as fanciful and weird as they’ve always been – except they no longer feature me in a starring role. Instead, I am a spectator, watching (and occasionally abetting) the adventures of other people. People I do not actually know, or recognize in real life.
I don’t know if this means that I watch too much TV… Or that my life has now progressed to the point where I no longer have anything of my own worth dreaming about.
Or maybe it’s a sign that I should be writing fiction.
I have always been a writer. Whether a good one or not is debatable: Last week, my parents were in town and my dad let me know that he has started reading this space.
“You’re a very good writer,” he said.
I think I’m a pretty good writer. I’m not an excellent writer.
I’m a slow writer. It takes me a very long time to churn out a little 500-word post, and I never seem to be quite finished when I realize my time is up and I have to stop — at which point, I can either hit “publish” or try to pick up where I left off tomorrow… and I usually choose to hit “publish,” because I learned a long time ago that perfection isn’t possible, so you have to let go and move on.
But as practical as that decision is, it means I don’t spend the time I should shaping my work: writing, re-writing, polishing.
My favorite literary quote is: “All drafts are shit,” purportedly said by Ernest Hemingway. And basically, everything I post here is a first draft.
My words do not soar, my thoughts do not inspire, and the cyberworld has expanded to the point where I need to look outward to be part of the blogging community, where a few years ago, the community came to me. I used to field comments. My writing on this blog was my calling card, opening doors to friendships I still enjoy.
It’s all changed.
I’ve changed. What makes me think I should still be doing all the same things?
Writing is what I’ve always done.
We did not have yearbooks in elementary school fifty years ago, but I had an autograph book, and I gave it to my teachers to sign. All of them mentioned the fact that I was always writing. My second grade teacher had some pretty lofty ambitions for me: “I hope to see your plays on Broadway some day.” Apparently, I used to exhibit some imagination.
I liked plays enough to read them for fun. I was a theater kid in high school and majored in it as a freshman in college. But by then, my real ambition was to work in movies and television. I somehow managed to do that. I sold two episodic sitcom scripts, despite the fact that the Tonight Show writers I worked with told me I wasn’t funny. Maybe they were right. Neither script was produced, which has not helped my confidence in my abilities.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt funny or seen the comedy in situations, or wanted to write anything but personal essays and non-fiction.
And yet, I keep having these wild and crazy dreams that have nothing to do with me.
Yesterday, for the first time in something like 20 years, I had an idea for a sitcom — and I sat down and started fleshing it out, even though there isn’t a chance in hell that I could sell the thing and there are a zillion other things I should be working on.
I started fleshing it out just to see if it was something I could still do.
Because I think it’s weird that I’m not even the star of my own dreams. I need to do something about that.