Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. It’s a way for insecure writers like myself give each other advice and encouragement. Click here to see a full list of participating blogs.
* * *
Today’s IWSG post might seem a bit strange at first, but please bear with me. I promise it is writing related.
Several nights ago, I had a dream. I was walking down a dark, empty hallway when I felt something touch my ankle. I looked down but couldn’t see anything there. I kept walking, but I felt it again, like a heavy weight crawling up my leg. When I looked again, some shadowy, indistinct shape was now halfway up my thigh.
In time, I could see better what it was: a fat, dark scaled snake. It wrapped itself around my torso, making it difficult to breath. Soon, I heard the snake’s voice, its tongue flicking my ear. It said things like, “For all the effort you’ve spent on your writing, you don’t seem to get many readers.” Or, “You know that thing you saw in the store today? You could afford to buy it if you went back to your old job.” Or, “Are you sure someone with your health issues should be pushing himself so hard?”
My pace slowed. I felt somewhat disconcerted, but, in my dream state, not nearly as terrified as I’d be in real life. After all, this creature¾the whisper worm, as I called it¾made a lot of sense. Even as it encircled and squeezed my neck, its soothing voice calmed me and made me realize what a terrible mistake I’d made trying to be a writer. Obviously, quitting now was the right decision. The sooner the better.
The whisper worm hissed a few final words of wisdom in my ear and unhinged its jaw so it could feed. I didn’t even realize I’d stopped walking forward.
Then a woman who I understood to be my muse appeared brandishing a sword. She ran toward me, her long hair streaming behind her, her dress magically luminous in the darkened hallway. Her eyes flashed with fury, though I couldn’t tell if she were angry at the whisper worm or at me for listening to it.
In one stroke, she lobbed off the worm’s head and then hacked its long body into bits. It was only then, as the monster dropped to the floor, that I realized how vile and treacherous this thing really was. Somehow, I could literally see the whisper worm had been full of lies (don’t ask how to visualize that¾it only made sense in the dream). These lies seemed to seep out of the squirming pieces like blood.
According to an article I read a few months back, scientists still don’t understand the purpose of dreaming. One new theory says that dreams are like training exercises. It’s a way for our brains to practice dealing with problems that the subconscious, for whatever reason, believes we may have to face.
I don’t know if my subconscious really thinks a talking snake is going to eat me, but it is true I’ve had more than a few discouraging thoughts since I left the regular job market to become a full time writer. The whisper worm only echoed things I’d already told myself. So maybe my subconscious is trying, in its own surreal way, to teach me how to recognize those thoughts for what they are: lies.
So this is my advice to all my fellow insecure writers: do not listen to the whisper worm. For many of us, writing is life, and this creature (or at least the lies it represents) really will try to strangle the life out of you.