About two months ago, I thought that maybe I’d like to keep a dream journal.
My dreams are like most people’s – odd, disjointed, sometimes a blurry mirror of what’s happening in my life.
I have a few standard recurring dreams, or at least themes of dreams. Tornadoes. Planes falling from the sky. Attending high school or college (again).
I remember hearing that keeping a dream journal is one of the best ways to become better at remembering your dream’s. The act of writing it down keeps those images from slipping away as you wake up. I thought that was true.
To my surprise, ever since I started keeping this journal, I’ve had a much harder time remembering my dreams. I wake up, reach for the journal on my nightstand, open it up, touch the pen to paper, and the dream disappears, caught there like that work on the tip of my tongue I can never remember when I need it.
Of all of the entries in this dream journal, so many of them are “I don’t remember” or “I thought this happened but it’s a reach” and few are the detailed accounts that I anticipated I would be writing each morning in this dream log.
And none of them have been my standard recurring dreams or themes, which surprises me even more. I often think of those as so regular that they outnumber everything else, and perhaps they are. Perhaps those recurring ones are the ones I lose in the time it takes me to reach for the journal and click out the pen.
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I consider myself brave, but I don’t know if that’s entirely true. There are too many things that I hold back from doing to be truly brave.
If I were brave, I would take chances when I don’t know the outcome. Or I wouldn’t hold myself back from doing something I want to do just because it’s not an ideal situation. Or because I’m not sure about cost. Or because I’m worried. Or because I’d probably be doing this alone. Or any number of other things.
Sometimes I play around on Google Flights. I found a really good flight deal to London for several dates this fall. I hesitated. Could I buy a flight, go to London, plan a trip? Could I do this on my own? Do I have enough money, vacation time, will to do this?
Other people travel all the time. I see my friends on Snapchat, instagram, Facebook – traveling alone, visiting a place for a second (or third) time. And every time I ask myself, why aren’t I doing this? Why am I stuck in a rut? Why haven’t I been out of the country in years? Why can’t I even just take a long weekend and drive to Canada and eat some food and relax and enjoy myself in a new place?
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Last week was a really hard week for me.
I got sick for the second time in a month. While it wasn’t the awful flu that took me out a few days while on vacation in Walt Disney World, it was still not much better. An acute upper respiratory infection plus two ear infections. I’ve never had a cough this bad before that I can remember. It’s all-encompassing and worse when I sit up which made sitting and concentrating at a desk all week incredibly difficult.
I took off work Tuesday and left early on Wednesday. I made it through all of Thursday, just barely, and my emotional well-being deteriorated due to some things that happened at work that I wish I could go into but have done so privately enough to keep myself from doing so in a public forum. I went to urgent care where I got my diagnosis, four medications, and a doctor’s note to miss again on Friday. Then I went to sleep.
Despite being off work on Friday, I still took care of some things at home because I care about my job, knew I left some things open, and because I’m good at my job. But that apparently wasn’t enough and I had a minor breakdown about my job late Friday night into early Saturday morning that only succeeded in making me even sicker.
Sometimes there are things that you can’t control in the moment. I can’t control my job right now. I love my job. I love where I work. There are just some aspects about it that are making it difficult to remember all the things I love about it. I don’t want to look for another job. It’s an additional stress I don’t want in my life right now. Right now I’ve marked that the part of my life that is my job – a bit part considering that working 40 hours a week is pretty much the overarching feature of my job for the majority I’m awake – isn’t controllable at the moment. I can’t immediately change or fix or better that situation.
So my sickness, low moments, and frustration forced me to ask, what can I control right now?
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I don’t like making New Year’s resolutions. Inevitably I keep none of them. I rarely make it even a few months. Weeks, even, sometimes. Yet every year I still think that maybe, just maybe, this year will be the year I keep all of my resolutions.
Thinking on that, I don’t like the word ‘resolution.’ I prefer the idea of goals. And I don’t think that any goals I make for 2016 will be transformative. They might broaden my reading horizons. They might urge me to finish something or try something new for me. They might anticipate things I already know I’ll slack on. But they won’t change me. I don’t mean to sound negative about all of this though I know it’s coming across that way.
The way I see it, each year brings new opportunities. For me, the opportunities I want to take are those that revolve around things I already like doing or things I want to be doing. For instance, I read a lot and love doing it, so I want to make some goals about my reading list. Or goals with cooking or writing, things I already do and love. Another example is exercise. I hate exercising. In New York City, it was so easy because I walked everywhere and up and down steps every day. Now, I’m being a bit hypocritical to my own opinions here because I have actually added an exercise goal to my 2016 list, but it’s one I already know I’ll fail. On the other hand, I know I won’t fail my reading and writing and cooking goals.
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And it bothers me.
I’ve been writing Young Adult fiction for years and, of late, growing more and more frustrated with it and the genre as a whole. I know my frustration stems more from a frustration with myself, with being stuck as an unpublished writer, but it’s not only that. It’s also the fact that I read a lot of YA fiction. Honestly, I read a lot of bad YA fiction. It just to make me feel better, that if these books were published, it would only be a matter of time before mine were too. The problem is that now it’s less likely to make me feel better and more likely to make me angry. I’ve moved on to, if these books were published, then why isn’t mine?!
With that in mind and also the fact that querying and getting no after no completely squashes any desire for me to write, I’ve started to wonder just what it is I should write next.
A long time ago, I didn’t write YA fiction. I used to write short fiction, dabble in (bad) poetry. I wrote literary fiction in college. I completed a Regency romance for my first NaNoWRiMo attempt. I used to love writing for the story, and the story would just come to me. I didn’t think about if what I was writing was sellable or ready for the market or even something that would fit into the YA world. I just wrote.
So now I’m done with my latest YA novel. I’m querying it to absolutely zero success. I’m frustrated and I’m angry and I feel like I don’t even want to bother with it anymore. And by ‘it’ I mean writing. I hate that but it’s the truth.
I don’t want to want to write. Yes, you read that correctly. I want to write, but I wish I didn’t. I wish I didn’t because I don’t know what to write.
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