Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dreams and Nightmares of the Stupidly Optimistic

So a certain someone told me last week that they wanted to hear about my nightmares and crazy fantasies of freedom and wealth. I'm actually not lying, either:
In case ya'll can't tell, Chris is awesome. Just one of the few of the awesome people I've met and interacted with since joining the Twittersphere. But this post isn't about Twitter. I decided to take Chris up on his offer and spill my guts.

Are ya'll ready for this?


First, I wanted to be a detective. When I was little, I got my "real" start in being a bookworm by reading the Nancy Drew novels, and to this day I have the entire collection on my bookshelf. Nancy was such a strong, smart, and fashionable heroine that I fell in love and wanted to do everything she did.

Then I wanted to be a zoologist because, well, zoologists get to work in zoos and be around animals all the time. Which I thought was awesome.

Then I wanted to become a forensic anthropologist because I loved the show Bones and thought, "I want to do that!"

Each and every one of those things had the same thing in common (although, for the second one, I can't remember where the spark came from): what I wanted to become had a base in fictional worlds. So, eventually, I thought: why not take my dreams, and shove them into a world that I create on my own?

Therefore, I started writing, and I found my niche. I love the fact that I can be whatever I want just by diving into the minds of my characters. They can be the detective, the animal lover, the investigator of dead bodies. And they can do so much more.

So my dreams and my "crazy fantasies" involve me, sitting in a cozy studio apartment somewhere in New England, and tapping away at my laptop. There will also be a mischievous cat named Mako trying to knock my coffee over. It's that kind of life that makes me happy, and even if I don't make millions, if I can somehow pull off making enough to get my somewhat comfortably, then I'll be happy.


Okay, so a recurring nightmare I've had since The Dark Night movie came out: the Joker is coming to kill me. To this day, that's the most terrible and frightening literal nightmare that I've ever had (go ahead and laugh, you know you want to).

As for my real nightmares, I think it's something that a lot of people share: what if I don't make it? I'm one of those stupidly optimistic people who thinks, "Eventually, it'll happen," and I like to think that I have the drive, commitment, and motivation to get me at least somewhere close. Even worse, though, is the fact that so many in my family, and so many of my friends, have the kind of confidence I try to exude, only they have it in so much excess that it scares me. If I don't make it, I can deal with it after a few weeks of dark depression and a whole heck of a lot of chocolate and apple pie, but my biggest nightmare and fear has been letting down those people who've supported me for six years, now. I've always hated failure, mainly because there were other people who I think had more faith in me than I had, and it makes me feel terrible to not succeed in the way they think I should.

I mean, I'm a people pleaser. I want to make others happy, and I want them to be proud of me. So sue me.

And...those are my thoughts. And I think I've either stated the obvious, or stated too much, but there's my thoughts for today.

What are your dreams and nightmares?

Tweet It:

@Rae_Slater accepted @chris_mahan's challenge and spilled her dreams and nightmares; they all have to do with writing (Click to Tweet)

@chris_mahan asked @Rae_Slater what her dreams and nightmares are, so she spilled and asks: what're yours? (Click to Tweet)


  1. I had written a reply, then Firefox crashed, so here it is again.

    Very heartfelt and moving post, I think I could have written the exact same section for nightmares (except for the Joker bit. That *is* weird).

    As a writer we're expected to have this infinite pool of optimism from which to draw upon, to always shrug off the endless rejections (or simply expired queries), as though they're nothing. But each one of those hurts, and no matter how many times agents say it's 'not personal', to the writer on the receiving end, it feels pretty darn personal.

    And that pool gets shallower each time you take a sip. Five agents becomes ten agents, becomes twenty, becomes publishers too, and still you have to smile and say 'it doesn't bother me'. But there's always that fear under the surface that eventually you'll have to put that book aside and tell yourself the world wasn't ready for it, or whatever bull will get you to sleep at night, but the fear returns again and tells you that *every* book will be like this. Play the numbers, what makes you think you're one of the dozen or so that will get published this year?

    "Write if you enjoy it" is what outsiders say, as though it's some simple tap you turn on and off, and when it becomes tiresome you can just abandon the venture. It's part of who you are, and I don't write because I enjoy it (I do, mostly), I write to get published. A very clear goal in my mind. And yet, to this day, except for a handful of internet people who tell me I can write well, I have no official backing or promise of that goal becoming reality. That font of optimism is the only thing driving me onward, which is ironic because I call myself a realist (which is a fancy pessimist).

    So yes, I completely understand your fears and you're definitely not alone in having them, and I think most active writers would agree with it too.

    1. "As a writer we're expected to have this infinite pool of optimism from which to draw upon..."

      I completely agree with you on this, Brett. Mostly because, after awhile, it becomes easy to accept a rejection and move on, but that's all that the outside sees. Nobody sees how much it tears you up on the inside; and it is hard. To keep working, and moving forward. It's a challenge.

      And the comment about when people say "write if you enjoy it" is spot on, too. Because it's not just a hobby; it's not something most of us can just stop doing and be happy. And it's also not something that's always enjoyable, since half the time I'm banging my head against the wall in an effort to shake something out.

      I think one of the best parts, though, is the fact that none of us are alone. There's an incredible community out there where we can share these fears with each other and know that everyone else has had an experience that's similar, and seeing others work through it is downright inspirational.

      Thanks for reading and sharing!

  2. Dear Rae,

    A most interesting post.

    I'll put on my guru hat, sit in the lotus position, and guide you through a little meditating first.

    Listen to this video while reading this post, as I listened to it while I wrote it:

    Empty your mind and let her voice fill your ears.


    Your happiness does not depend on your circumstance, what people think of you, whether they feel proud of you.

    Your happiness depends on how you see yourself.

    Your happiness does not depend on where you are, who you are with, who you are without, or where you are not.

    Your mind and your body live according to very ancient rules, rules millions of years in the making.

    Just as you cannot stop your skin from sweating when you are warm,

    Just as you cannot stop your muscles from shivering when you are cold,

    You cannot stop the mind from worrying.

    The mind, your mind, wants many things, many contradictory, many desultory, exquisite, and required things.

    You cannot be happy by making others happy.

    You cannot be happy by making yourself happy.

    You can only be happy by accepting you as you are.

    Without reserve, without hesitation, without second-thought.

    Embrace yourself. Know yourself. Accept yourself.

    There is no Good, no Bad, no Evil.

    There is no smart, no dumb, no strong, no weak.

    There is only you, complex life, emergent personhood from biological systems.

    There is only you.

    Failure or success means nothing.

    You are an organism among many, among a multitude, among an immensity.

    We see the stars in the sky as single points of light, faint, shimmering, easily eclipsed by brighter objects.

    Yet up close, each one would fill the sky with brilliant light.

    Up close, each one would consume the earth and all that is in it.

    Up close, each one is massive and complex and unfathomably powerful.

    Such we are as well.

    30 trillion cells in the human body means there are more objects in one human being than there are objects in our galaxy.

    They coordinate to form your body and your mind, and they form you.

    Realise you are you as you are, and you will be happy.

    Then, when your mind is in the place of calm, write, and your writing will shine to fill the mind of the reader with brilliant light.

    And you will have the last laugh on the joker.

    1. "And you will have the last laugh on the joker." Amen :)

      You are just downright poetic sometimes, Chris. It's really beautiful to read your words, partly because they're put together so well and partly because they're all true. Thank you :)

      Also: "Failure or success means nothing." This is so true; while it would be fantastic to succeed at this weird endeavor, I think a good majority of the satisfaction comes from simply doing and creating. For me, escaping from reality for a short time is worth all of the fears.

    2. Thank you thank you! Glad you liked it!

      I write words and I read words to lose myself in the infinite within. It's a distinct pleasure which I am thrilled we share.

      I must say too that I am slightly jealous of your ease with grammar. Your writing flows like conversation, pivots like a twirling ballerina, and carries us along with emotion and imagery. I like it a lot!