Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Nightmare...Sort of About Revision

After slightly fewer than three hours sleep, I woke from a dystopic science fiction nightmare involving a dark indoor place with rooms that look like gigantic, vast stadium seating auditoriums with a vast circular stage in the center (something like the courtroom scenes in the Harry Potter movies but about three times as big). I see a lot of black—black walls and floors and such—and people wearing identical dark purple clothes.

Many—probably the majority—of these people are androids, computers in humanoid form, but I didn’t know this at the beginning of the dream. I forget how I find out. I’m an innocent citizen going about my daily life and feeling confused by the behavior of most people (well, that sounds like my everyday life when I lived in the Midwest). One day, some of these computer-androids collectively go insane and want to overthrow the system. As a real human, I’m anxious and panicky as I observe one of the insane (or malfunctioning) androids run into one of these auditorium rooms and flinging herself (or itself, if you prefer) at a bunch of the androids seated in the room.

Large numbers of androids, when the crazy android makes contact with them, shatter like glass into tiny, jagged fractures, flying all over. I’m terrified not only of being hurt by the flying glass but of shattering like glass myself. (Incidentally, the hallway leading to this room feels rather like the hallway in my parents’ house where I grew up, and the doorway feels like my old bedroom doorway.)

This is my interpretation of what that dream was about. Yesterday I read a lot of editorial feedback on a fantasy novel I wrote as a teen, and I discovered that the manuscript is far worse than I imagined. Part of me is antsy to start revising, taking the novel apart and turning it into a series. Another part of me is terrified of “killing my baby” as the writing expression goes—making such drastic changes as taking the characters from Victorian England and sticking them in twenty-first century America. After all, this novel was what I found escapist when I was a teen, and for decades I’ve thought of these characters in that Victorian setting.

In the dream, the hallway led to the doorway of the bedroom in which I hid while writing those stories (that I stuck together and called a novel) as a teen. The big room resembled a courtroom, and reading the developmental edits felt like I was on trial. The androids that shatter like glass represent characters in my novel, characters who will be altered or deleted altogether.

On the bright side, I’ll certainly keep the current draft rather than destroy it like Nathaniel Hawthorne, who tended to burn manuscripts he didn't like. The current manuscript will be a reference… and a sentimental possession. Meanwhile, I’m already getting visions of what to do in order to set this series in modern-day America, and even bits of truly modern dialog are popping into my head.

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