There’s a TV spot on right now for a sleep aid that features a chess playing Abe Lincoln, a space man, and a talking ground hog. The premise is that, due to insomnia, your dreams are missing you, so take Sleep-O (or whatever) and get back to dreaming.
As a writer my life is populated by many of these dream characters and I feel them similarly longing for me to get back to it, to get back to writing, and stop leaving them hanging, anxiously waiting for the next act.
My very first character was a plucky ten-year-old boy named John. John feared nothing. John could do anything. He was a scamp; stealing the farmer’s plums, throwing snowballs at passing cars, and he was a hero, who through cunning and daring do, discovers and brings to justice the oddball neighbors who where actually diamond smugglers. I was seven when John, the most awesome boy of all time, filled my imagination.
In adolescence I had a pair 16-year-old Austrian twin princes. Handsome, of course. They were living an undercover, commoner’s life here in America where one was earnestly pursuing his academics while the other was a wild, bad boy partier. Bruno and Francois were, in their own way, preparing for their role as King of Leslestonia. And I was destined to be queen, but who would be my king?
I used these stories as a way to escape boredom. I ran them like movies in my head whenever I felt the press of dullness. When Mrs. Restori said: “Today we’re going to diagram sentences.” I slumped back in my chair, dimmed the lights, and said: “Roll ‘em.”
Currently, in my fictive dream, I have Sandy. An albino pre-adolescent, Sandy is rebelling against her mother’s application of hair dye and thick foundation and trying to fall in with bad company. I often join Sandy as she imagines her adoptive parents’ surveying a dim room of bassinets and selecting her, a bright halogen bulb of baby, from all the other available infants.
And though writing appears to be a solitary pursuit, it’s actually teeming with people, people who miss me and wait for me to move them forward, to meet their destiny, to complete their stories.
I have to go… Sandy’s at a sink in junior high, washing Cover Girls’ Malibu Morning from her face while at the sink next to her a classmate is applying the black eyeliner her mother has absolutely forbidden. What’s Sandy going to say to her kohl-eyed peer?