WRITING WELL 8 - aviatrix

by Susan Weber

This dream wanders hither and yon. Themes emerge and quickly vanish. Characters surge and recede without a trace. It is clearly not a story. But it’s my dream and it may hide pearls. Carl Jung sees it like this:

The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.

Act I
A professor hosting a retreat for would-be writers suggests we pair our side-dishes to his lush provender of beef and fowl. My casserole won’t fit on his meaty wood-fire grill; I cut up fruit instead. He hands me a pint of blueberries with wispy tails a spud might sprout from its squinty eyes. I squint too and tell my teacher these are black, not blue. I leave out the fact that blackberry seeds get stuck in my teeth. Spatula in hand he shrugs, turning to his barbeque.

Act II
On a smooth beach in a wide cove, our writing teacher has challenged us to fly. Vaguely recalling that I like to fly, I decide not to show off. I step back to watch one airborne lad shimmy toward a seaside structure, the tower of Pisa perhaps. He peeks in the window, shouting authenticating details down at us. I flap my naked arms and, instantly exhausted, hover mere feet above the tides. Our teacher and his acolytes are roundly unimpressed by this maneuver.

The sea has become a multi-lane highway along which I speed in the dark. My lights are on, my fists shut tight around the wheel. The asphalt is wet and I’m late to the theater that employs me. As I round a curve, I barely miss hitting a tall woman standing in my way. Her billowed skirt is long, her bodice bosomy. Rosebuds ring her nymph-like hair. She holds a steamy casserole with oven mitts and has singled me out to drop her at my theater's side door, by which she plans to sneak into the show. Even as I scoop her up and leave her at the designated entrance, I resent her nonchalance. She might get us in trouble and by us I mean me in my matchless self-absorption.

I wake up, spooning my dream into a notebook lest it drain away. I’ve come to consider each remembered character an aspect of my psyche. I’m the teacher, student, flyer, driver, and freeloading cook — all actors who fall short of their intentions.

The narrator wants to soar and make astute observations. Others fly higher than she ever will. This reminds me of how I compare my writing to the greats and sort-of-greats and wonder just who do I think I am? And I’ve been the upstart Pisan too, swooping around my stories in delighted delusion, as though I had invented the form.

The professor of the first two acts may want to teach well, but has no vested interest in his students. Like me in my writing life, he shrugs off observable successes.

The woman clutching tuna-noodle in a quilted mitt personifies domesticity. Housework, childcare, all the unassigned details of practical life fall to her. She does it well but wants a job to unleash her creativity. If only she could shake the lassitude that's wormed its way into her psyche. Forget watching art happen from the wings — the satisfying roles go to artists who work, audition, perform, forgo predictable conclusions. Then again, she did go out in the rain, stand in traffic, and flag me down; maybe I've misjudged her.

Jungian psychology might scoff at my amateur interpretations. I can live with that. Dream is imagination holding court. It humors us, and floods the night with open invitations.

Photo by Brezeline CC BY-SA 3.0