Every once in a while the universe sends me a message. Nothing big like where did the dinosaurs go or why are we so fascinated with the Kardashians, but just a gentle nudge to set me on a path. Things happen or don’t happen, and I’m left to sort out what that means (or doesn’t) and draw a few conclusions from it. Often I wake up with a snippet of a dream, like the time I dreamed about my former boss and asked him if he regretted anything he did in the course of his cancer treatment. (He didn’t, because “it bought me more time.”) The universe apparently thought I needed to know that. And I guess I did, because it changed the way I felt about the unfairness of his too-early death. (I still think it’s unfair, for the record. But he got to wring out more time, so it goes into the Win column.)
This morning, I was rudely dragged from sleep by my alarm (sidebar: I do not like waking up in the dark. I miss summer.) with one thought on repeat: two thousand words.
In case you’re wondering, two thousand words is a lot. Well, it is for me, because I’m not one of those prolific writers. You know the ones, the ones who can just do a stream-of-consciousness thing and write down all the words in their head and then come back and straighten it out later. Unfortunately I am too anal for that. If a narrative starts to go off the rails I stop, backtrack, and correct it, editing as I go. I’ve done it at least nine times so far in this post.
One of the bits of feedback I got from my many writers’ workshops in college was that I needed to “let go” with my words, just let them all out and let the story go wherever it wanted. I never really understood that back then, but I understand it now – not that understanding it would make any difference in the way I write. I wish I could do that, “let go” of all the words and let them spill out on paper like a letter from a madman. I wish I could learn to stop editing as I go. Would it make me a better writer?
But the universe apparently wants me to spill ink in the amount of two thousand words a day.
I’ve been thinking for a while about how to carve out some time for writing, such as getting up earlier and spending a little time with my laptop. I haven’t done it yet. I value my sleep. I also know that the somnambulate state could likely be fertile ground. Would it engender two thousand words’ worth?
Dreams are a funny thing. Most of mine disappear the moment I wake up. Only a precious few stay with me. Sometimes it’s only the refrain, as this morning: two thousand words.
Here are 496 of them.