Deb Elise Dreams Big… and Devastating

French FriesI read an interview once that I can’t find online, so I can’t quote it directly, and will probably mangle it beyond recognition, BUT it was with Tina Fey.  The interviewer asked if she ever dreamed she’d have this kind of success, and she said something to the effect of yes, of course she did, but she’s a creative person and has wild dreams that include every possible outcome, including getting trapped in a room full of french fries and having to eat her way to freedom.

I haven’t had the french fry dream in particular, but I can still relate.  At the beginning of every project, I am absolutely positive it will be the greatest thing ever, and catapult me to unprecedented mega-success!  I dream of myself doing the talk show circuit, walking the red carpet, thanking the Academy, and hugging Oprah (doesn’t matter that she’s sans show — hugging Oprah is still a part of the fantasy).

At the exact same time, I’m equally positive the project will be a complete bust that will rain ridicule upon me from here to the end of time.  I dream of myself never getting a writing job again, doors slamming in my face, and shame weighing so heavily upon my back that I walk stooped over like Igor, sniveling, weeping, and moaning in eternal agony.

It’s like those cartoons where they show a diagram of someone’s brain, divided into sections.  Mine would probably be one-third delusions of grandeur, one third panicked hysteria, and the last third basic human functions.

And while I know — or at least I like to believe — this way of thinking isn’t that uncommon, and probably very human… it’s not so helpful.  It’s tough to get deeply involved in a story when you’re too busy having panic attacks or floating on a cloud of Oprah-love.  I’m far better served when I can manage to stay in the moment and concentrate on my characters, my story, my words and phrases… all the things I can actually control.

Dreams are great, big-picture.  My dreams keep me striving to improve and to do more and stretch my limits.  My fears… they’re nuisances, really, and I’d love to shoo them away, but I don’t see that happening.  If Anne Lamott still hears radio station KFKD, I can’t fault myself for hearing it too.  But there’s a place for both the grandiose dreams and the nightmares, and that place is not during writing time.

I’ve yet to master my own roving mind.  When I’m able to get out of my own way, everything flows; when I’m not… the work still happens, but it’s much slower going.  I’ve been told meditating would help me tremendously, and it’s one of those things that has been on my to-do list for a very long time (which seems odd — something as transcendental as meditation on a to-do list), but I’ve yet to commit to it.

How about you?  Does your brain taunt you with wild dreams and nightmares like mine does?  If so, what do you do to keep your mind in the right place when you’re writing?  I can use the advice now more than ever — Populazzi‘s release date is just two weeks away, has already released it, and I’m diving into a brand new project.  The mind games are out in force, so thanks in advance for your words of wisdom!

~ Deb Elise

16 Replies to “Deb Elise Dreams Big… and Devastating”

  1. Don’t let those doubts and fears stand in the way of enjoying the part of the dream that IS coming true with POPULAZZI’s release. It may not involve hugging Oprah (yet), but I’m a firm believer in celebrating all the successes along the way. Smell those roses, kiddo! 🙂

  2. Maybe your mind’s way of coping is healthier than mine – I just tend to sublimate everything and end up horribly sick.

    I’ve think I’ve had enough guarantees in my life to know that while nothing is guaranteed, everything is not doomed to fail. And I guess that’s how I manage to push those doubts to the side and focus on whatever it is I’m trying to do.

    In other news, this is my new favorite sentence ever written: “Mine would probably be one-third delusions of grandeur, one third panicked hysteria, and the last third basic human functions.”

    1. I can actually see the little cartoon diagram, too!

      It’s true, there have been many successes along the way, and concentrating on those is a much better focus than the next “maybe” looming in the air.

    1. You’re right!!! I am enjoying it — it’s weird though — it’s already available on Amazon, so I’m fuzzy about the actual “debut” — it’s not like going to the first midnight showing of Potter — it’s a little nebulous.

      I think it’ll feel real when I see it in a bookstore… oh man, I hope I see it in a bookstore…

      See, there I go again…

  3. I recently attended the award ceremony for the RITAS (pretty much the academy awards of romance writing). I was dumbfounded that more than half the award winners began their two minute speech with some variation of, “I didn’t think I’d win, so I didn’t prepare anything to say.” Seriously? Even if you think your odds are slim, why wouldn’t you at least fantasize about victory and jot some words on a notecard? It’s baffling to me.


    1. I saw that post on your blog! I can say from my Emmy experience that it’s like I said above: I absolutely imagined every second of Craig, Joe, and I standing on stage and accepting our awards; at the same time I was dead certain we’d never in a million years end up winning. The two thoughts not-so-peacefully co-exist.

  4. I’m going to remember this during my next writing session – “But there’s a place for both the grandiose dreams and the nightmares, and that place is not during writing time.” So, so true. But isn’t it funny how it’s that same “roving mind,” those same dreams and nightmares, that often give us the best ideas for our writing? 🙂

    Congratulations on POPULAZZI!!!

    1. It’s true — the mind that creates universes on paper also creates universes of joy and doubt in our minds. I wouldn’t trade it, but tempering the universes of doubt… that might be a good thing.

  5. I love that I have my delusional dreams in common with you and Tina Fey. Some of my favorite people. There are times that having a really active imagination is not a great thing at all.

    1. You have no idea how fabulous it makes me feel to hear you say you share these issues. If I can have a book list like yours even while wrestling with delusions, I’m no longer worried!

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