I’d had a fever, so that night when I went to bed I was already in an off kind of place. I remember the dream because I’d never been more frightened in my life: there was a tube of paint, and a tiny man standing on it. I was trying to make him hold still, but the more I tried, the more he’d jump up and down, and the paint would ooze out, filling up my vision.
Everything turned orange.
I don’t know why this frightened me so; perhaps it was the complete lack of control this orange seemed to signify.
But years later, when I was a sophomore at the University of Miami, I used this dream in a short story I wrote for my fiction class. I don’t remember the specifics anymore, just that I gave my main character, who lived in a beach house, this same nightmare, on the same day she finds an old picture of herself as a baby with a mysterious inscription on the back. Throughout the story, she begins to uncover the story behind the picture, and her nightmares begin to intensify.
I titled it “An Ocean Orange.”
Looking back, it wasn’t a very good story. But after I turned in “An Ocean Orange,” my creative writing teacher called me over and told me she thought it showed promise. So much so, that she offered to be my advisor for my senior thesis project.
By the time I was a junior and ready to begin working on my thesis, I’d moved on to other story ideas (like the novella that would eventually become Chasing the Sun). But my professor’s enthusiasm for this orange-inspired short story was a huge catalyst; it made me realize I wasn’t the only crazy one who thought I might be able to write fiction.
Have you ever had a teacher who helped you realize your dreams? What’s the one moment you remember them by?