My motivations for writing have shifted over time. Toward the end of a Ph.D. program, after working doggedly on writing a dissertation for several years, something started to arise in me. I think the first inkling was a dream—
Nov. 29, 2006 Dream excerpt: I keep trying to write down an earlier dream in which there was a marriage and I ate a meal with family at tables in the woods. This time, there’s an older man: white haired, English. I seem to ignore him as he follows me around, though I feel great love between us. Everywhere, I try to write down the dream, moving restlessly from place to place. I put little notes all over, run out of space, get confused about what I’ve put. Parts seem to fade or get too messy to read. The man finally puts his foot down and says, “Why don’t we spend time on what I want?” He points to a table displaying art and writing, near us in the forest.
In the final months of writing the dissertation, the dream became like a herald in my mind; this loving, creative masculine within me—animus figure, messenger from the soul—let me know my life’s energy was being subsumed by something that might not suit me. I started having dreams of trains going north (I longed to return to Northern California from San Diego). Sometime in that last year, I responded to an invitation to write a short story about Samhain (i.e. Halloween, All Hallows).
That fiction story took up residence in my imagination. At the same time, I had begun studying Jungian depth work. I loved reading and writing about dreams and their meanings. When I left San Diego for the far Northern California coast, I extended the story into a novel and then a trilogy, at first as an act of healing. It was amazing how putting my own words out there in fiction felt tremendously empowering, after my doctoral committee had refused my words. I put myself in my main character’s place each day as I worked as home visitor for Latino families, for a local nonprofit. The writing softened the blow of defeat (my dissertation endeavored to change our education system, point out inequities, etc… I write more about that in About).
As I’ve come to the end of writing my first trilogy, my reasons for writing have shifted. Lately, I’ve been reexamining the energy my fiction writing requires: the writing itself, revising and editing, but also social media and marketing efforts. I ask myself, Would I give this up? Would I set it aside? My clear answer is no. Then I ask, “Why?” One factor is a sense of belonging in my writing community. Another came to me in one of my dream groups. A woman bemoaned the fact that she’s let music fall to the side. She talked about not practicing and I thought, that’s part of it, too. How will I know where I might have gone with my writing if I give it up?
I’ve now returned to a sci fi project I started years ago, before graduate school. Working through my notes, I know I’m a different writer. I’m relishing the discovery of my old self and her ideas, from when my children were small, while fleshing it out with new crafting abilities. As I design the cover, with the original title on it, I fulfill a longstanding promise to myself.
Some things get easier, without conscious awareness. Why stop now? I think the real party is just beginning. Who might I become? What might my writing accomplish in the future?