Let me say right off that although I do dream, this isn’t one, not for real, not a vision either. I love the “daydream” state when I close my eyes and people my own dreams, adding wonderful things, like celebrations. Some time ago, daydreaming, I imagined I died (not sure where that one came from). But I found myself in heaven, greeted at the gates by a kindly angel, who asked me where I’d like to go first. Of course, I said, “The Library, please.”
I followed the angel into the most magnificent library, books shelved to the sky. I spent an eternity (or so) rereading the classics, looking through books I’d only heard about. There was even a shelf for me, with nearly every book I’d ever written. After a while (time is hard to calculate in eternity), the angel must have noticed something in me: “What’s wrong, Dandi?” “Well,” I answered, not wanting to find fault in this amazing location, “these books are fantastic, but . . . I’ve run across most of them down there, on earth. I kind of thought you guys would have your own stuff.”
“Yes,” the angel admitted. “But we had them first.” As I tried to figure out what that meant, I was motioned to follow down long, cobwebbed passages, past dust-covered rooms where I heard music more beautiful than I’d ever heard on earth. Finally, I was ushered into an echoing chamber, an untended room infinitely larger than The Library. These shelves were overcrowded with books farther than I could see in every direction. I reached for one close to the entrance, dusted it off and read the first page. I’d never heard of it before, but that book could have helped me through the toughest days of my life. At random, I chose another book, a novel that I wish my aunt could have read because it would have reached her in a way I couldn’t. There were books I wanted to give my children, my grandchildren. When I couldn’t stand it, I turned on the angel. “These books!” I shouted. “I never saw these. They could have changed the lives of everyone I knew. Why didn’t you send these down there?”
The angel looked pained. “We tried. Their authors wouldn’t take them. There, that one is sitting in the young man’s desk, but he lacks the courage to try to get it published. And the novel there received criticism and never was rewritten. This one is lovely, but only three chapters exist as the author is rather preoccupied. I wanted to cry for all of the lost stories and experiences. I wanted to shout down, to yell at those lazy authors . . . until another book caught my attention. I took it out and dusted the spine. My name was on it. It was that book I always thought about writing but never got around to it.
Not a real dream, but have you ever listened to authors, musicians, architects, and other creative people? You’ll hear declarations like “And then I got it! She’d been in the accident with her brother!” “I know I don’t have the right ending.” “I’m almost there.” Creating a story is a bit like unraveling a ball of string, or that’s how it feels sometimes. This has been my most rewarding year in over 30 years of writing. I’ve dusted off my “dream books.” (If you’re still with me, the Flipside Stories above is a line of books I thought up 12 years ago.) Two other “dreams” are coming out soon–one for tweens and teens, and my dream novel for grown-ups. But the most exciting thing is that I believe I have more of those books in the dusty library . . . and you probably have your share in one of those rooms too.