My Novel is Still Breathing, and a Dream

My novel had to get off the trail for a while as I adjusted to a new life with a new job. But I'm back. I was up at 5:00 this morning and managed to slog through 300 words of chapter 17.

I have a huge Excel file in which I've stored all kinds of data about the novel--plots and subplots, character information, timeline, my original outline, summaries of the draft chapters, a "What If" tab with the detailed outline, and a "Draft Word Count" chart.

The word count means almost nothing. This is a draft, and I've been a writer long enough to know that my drafts rarely resemble anything like the final product. But the chart is a good motivator. It helps me to visualize the progress I've made.

So, you see where I am in Chapter 17: at about 500 words. I'll get there one of these days.

And now, for my dream.

I dreamed the other night that I'd bought a horse and was neglecting it, even though I let it live in a pen in my bedroom. I kept forgetting to give it food and water, and for days at a time. Weeks, even. And it didn't make any noise or complaint; it just stayed in the shadows and looked sad and hungry each time I deigned to notice it was there.

I wasn't neglecting the horse on purpose; I was just so busy with other things that I kept forgetting about him. Finally, I said, "I really need to give this horse some water."

So I went to the kitchen to find a bucket, but all I could find was an empty Cool-Whip bowl. So I filled it with water and brought it to the horse. The horse was very thankful. Its tongue was all withered and dry from dehydration, but it was able to drink. Boy, was I relieved. Then I remembered, "Oh! I need to feed him, too. I wonder if I even have any horse food." So I went back to the kitchen, looked under the sink, and found a bag labeled "Horse Food." (Can you tell I've never been a horse person?)

After feeding the horse (from another small bowl), I found a larger bucket for water and filled it up and brought it back to the horse. I was so relieved that I hadn't let the horse die because of my negligence, but at the same time I felt very sad that I'd neglected it.

Then I thought, "I can't take care of this horse. I'll call my friend Jan (whose memoir I edited recently). She loves horses. Maybe she'll take it off my hands and make it into something."

So when I woke up, I thought, "That horse is either Jesus, or my novel."

Of the two, I have actually neglected my novel more in recent weeks (for once). And part of the reason I've neglected it is that I've put so much effort into Jan's book. So the thought of "Maybe I'll give this responsibility (of being a writer) to Jan, and let her make something of it (a published book)," makes sense.

So. I'm back on the novel. The horse is being fed. Even if all I can find for the moment is a little Cool-Whip bowl.

Still, it seems odd that I would keep a horse in a pen in my bedroom--and still keep forgetting that I had a horse.

Dreams are odd things. Humans are odd creatures. Houyhnhnms we are not.

Time to get ready for work.


Linda said…
When you say Jesus, do you mean spirit? I guess your novel is, in a sense, your spirit.

I love this dream. To me it's not at all odd (dream-wise) that you would keep a horse in a pen in your bedroom-- and keep forgetting that you had a horse. The things I neglect tend to be the things closest to me--or the things I THINK I'm intimate with.
Nita said…
I heard once that every being in a dream is a part of ourself. So perhaps the horse you are neglecting is some part of you. Perhaps the writing part. It's very quiet, that part, but it will wither and die if we don't feed it. Thanks for the reminder.

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