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Waking Inside the Dream

Writing this book feels like having a dream that is becoming more and more lucid.


It's the weirdest thing I have ever written, and that feels right. It's populated by misfits and outcasts who form their own little society at the fringes of other people's, and that feels right. Every time I get to a turning point in the story, I write out more than one possibility for what happens next--whatever pops into my head, no matter how horrific or gross or frightening or painful, and then I pick the stream that flows the fastest, and that feels right.

It feels good to slip into my own nightmares, half-lucid and trusting the creative process and my ability to sort it out later. The risks taken in a dream can feel like matters of life or death, but they aren't. We have nothing to lose but the dream itself.

It's important to stay inside that flow state, inside of the dream, to keep the creative energy alive and allow unexpected connections to spark. It's also good to gain the lucidity to steer the narrative around the most interesting bends--contributing energy and will without trying to wrest total control, something like dancing with a partner or making love. I have nothing more to say about my book right now, because nobody wants to hear somebody else's unedited dream.

So let me tell you about my partner-in-dreams Christina, whose masterpiece of a novel has been written and rewritten and edited and refined and is just about finished.

Christina is facing some of her fears beyond the writing chair, doing things she has never done before, things that feel deadly terrifying to someone with a phobia--flying on planes, staying for days in a crowd of strangers, pitching to an agent! None of these things is likely to cause actual death, though I know that it feels no different when you're in the middle of a panic attack. All these things require a certain lucidity within a surrender of total control, and it is scary when your dreams are wrapped up in your nightmares. I am incredibly proud and inspired by Christina and humbled into facing my own shadows with courage and curiosity.

Enter Christina's "Fear of Flight" here--a fear whose shadow challenges she has accepted with bravery and with the help of a few fairy godsisters who have entered those valleys of dread before and know the way through.

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