I used to have recurring dreams as a child. One in particular involved riding my Strawberry Shortcake Bigwheel down the road with my brother who was riding his very own Transformers Hotrod. We must’ve lived somewhere hilly like San Francisco, because we’d pedal our brains out up and down hills until the road ended…now when I say ended, I don’t mean with a sign reading Dead End. I mean the road disappeared into a gigantic body of water that went on as far as the eye could see. Ever seen Lake Michigan? Yeah, that’s about right.
My brother, being the logical physicist he was (even at that age), would slam on his breaks and circle around, judging the depth of the water on the road, scheming a way to get through unscathed.
“It’s too deep,” he’d say, and circle some more, eyeing the distance to the far shore. “We have to turn around.”
I’d pedal back, scan the road for oncoming traffic (safety first) then pedal as fast as I could into the water.
“I can make it!” I’d yell.
I don’t know where I was trying to go. Water would rise higher and higher, covering my bike, my body, then finally my head. Once I was fully submerged, I always knew to reach up and grab ahold of a trusty vine before panic set in. In every dream the vine was the same–thick, sturdy, safe. I’d pull and pull, climbing until I reached the top of a huge cliff that overlooked the ocean. (Funny, I never noticed that green, poppy-covered cliff in the city before. Hmmm) My brother would be on the other side looking proud that he found a way to reach the top like me…without getting drenched in the process. (Always the competitive brainiac.)
I’d wake up feeling anxious, maybe a little scared. It didn’t make sense to me at first. I was okay. I made it to the top safely. Why the panic?
Then it hit me. It wasn’t the water, the sinking feeling, or the worry over my brother’s safety (although in the dream I was very concerned). It was the thought that the vine might not be there for me to grab onto next time. Each time the dream replayed, I could never stop myself from pedaling into the water no matter how scared I was to do it.
I’m totally having this feeling now. I don’t know where my writing will lead me, although I’m pedaling my mental-wheels as fast as they’ll go. It feels smooth sailing so far…but oh, look down there…down the mountain where the road ends. See all that murky, unknown publishing business floating around in the water? Looks pretty ominous, doesn’t it? Think we can make it? Can I circle around and find another way through safely? Enter a contest or two or three to beef up my resume? Try self-publishing? E-pubs? Write some short stories or a different genre for variety?
You know, when I stop to weigh my options, I get the same feeling from my dream. I pedal-and write. And pedal-write some more. And pedal-write, write, write, write! No matter the uncertainty, the fear, I just have this gut feeling that once I’m fully submerged in the writing realm I’m going to reach up and…