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Nessum Dorma

October 31, 2011

I don’t put much stock in dreams, and I generally hate “dream sequences” in novels – usually they’re a phantasmagoria of purple prose that has little to do with the plot, almost as if the author just had to have that eruption of purplosity before she could move on.  Also, they make more sense than real dreams, which is just as irritating.

Still, last night’s dream was weird.  If there’s a message in it of a Jungian sort, I didn’t care for it.  I was at the Metropolitan Opera, where I’ve never been, and I was excited – I had a good seat and hey, it was something I’d never done before.  For some reason I “knew” it was Turandot, which I’ve never seen and know nothing about.  There was a very tall man in a drapy dark red gown with a big red hat, and lots of people bustling around the stage – all very operatic.  Then the scene got darker and I realized that my seat had moved up to a platform by the box level nearest the stage.  It was a little platform that only held my seat, though sometimes there was someone else beside me, but usually not.  Then I was facing away from the action and I had to turn backwards to see what was going on, and the action got dimmer and dimmer till I couldn’t see anything other than movement way down below.  I realized how small the platform was and how I didn’t dare move my chair or I’d fall, but I kept telling myself that was okay, I was fine.  But then the chair kept moving beneath me, and finally dumped me out, and I turned to the attendant who’d suddenly apparated on the wall side beside me and I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.”  Then I got up and started up the stairs through the balcony, which was suddenly where I was, looking for a seat.  I tried to find an empty section but someone suddenly came down and said, “Sorry, I’m sitting there.”  Finally I got to the very top row and sat down, and looked down and some very severe gentleman looking disapprovingly at me for interrupting the show.  Then I woke up and had to pee.

I don’t know if it was an expression of my nerves around writing again, the whole authorial metaphor of being up there “by yourself” seeing things far below that you couldn’t identify (i.e. plot you haven’t thought of yet) and worrying about “falling” i.e. failing.  I looked up Turandot on Wikipedia and didn’t see anything in the plot that touched a nerve – but then I read about Puccini’s “inability to finish the opera,” and how that may have been because he was unable to “feel his way into the new, forbidding areas the myth opened up to him.”  Great, thanks.  I’m not at all spiritual, but I know the subconscious has a mind of its own, and it might have known something about the piece that I forgot. 

If the message is “I can’t do this by myself,” I already know that.  On the bright side, I have a literary agency at least looking at the book, which is more than I dreamed possible even two weeks ago.  I do need to know that there is some audience, some potential for publication.  Aside from my first novel, every book I’ve written has been written under contract, and let me tell you a deadline and a paycheck are powerful engines of creativity and productivity.  Wish me luck.

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