Erma says connect: the April Elephant Coffee Klatch

This post is part of the Elephant Coffee Klatch series, where I get to know the creative “elephant in the room” of my subconscious. My “elephant” is a looming, unrealized dream that lingers in the back of my mind, the one I try to ignore but that won’t let me be. The Klatch is about making friends with that elephant and then either pursuing the dream or letting it go, with love. Read more about the Klatch here.

Erma, coming to chat.
Erma, coming to chat.

I mentioned a few days ago that my computer died and that I am now using a slower, older computer. I’m adjusting. Slowly—literally and figuratively—but I’m adjusting. And when it happened, I was so thankful that I’d backed up recently…

…except that I hadn’t backed up everything.

In fact, I’d not backed up some fairly important things I’d been working on, including all my recent work on my manuscript.

Le sigh, times 10.

One step forward (working on the dream), one step back (losing that work). I do have a lot of it printed out, so I technically could retype it all back in. But for some reason, I don’t want to do that.

Unlikely progress

Here’s what’s interesting. You know how “they” say you should read a lot to be a writer? Well, I do read a lot. But I tend to read things several times, because I just don’t remember as much unless I do. So about a month ago, I started re-reading a novel I’d read maybe 10 years ago, but had not really remembered much of. For some reason, this book sort of stood out on the shelf, as if it would jump up and down if it could while peeping out “Read me! Read me!” in a high-pitched voice. I hadn’t thought I’d ever reread it, because I hadn’t connected too much with it the first time around, but figured what the heck. Nothing else on the shelves was really capturing my attention.

This time around, I’m much more engaged with this book, and it is actually giving me insight after insight about how I want my own story to unfold, how I want to tell it, and what I should (and should not) include. I’ve been really enjoying reading this book again, not only because I am connecting to the story itself, but because every night I go to sleep inspired about my own book.

And all that mulling over how I want my story to coalesce had caused me to realize that some of the recent work I’d done on my manuscript was going in the wrong direction. I’d been planning to go back and change stuff.

Then the computer died, taking my recent manuscript with it.

Coincidence? Heck no. I’m too airy-fairy to believe in coincidence. I believe in connections.

I’m taking this loss of work as a sign that my idea to revert to previous versions is the way to go. I do plan to get a hard drive enclosure and get my info off of it, because I do have stuff on there that I can’t lose. But as for my story, I’m going back to my older versions and picking up there.

The value of connecting with another’s dream

Despite the fact that I’m a lifelong reader (my mom always had a book in front of her and I started reading her pulp horror novels early on, then friends got me hooked on historical romance in high school), for some time now I’ve not wanted to read novels because…(sshhh secret confession time)…I’ve been jealous.

I either felt like the book was so good that I’d never be able to write something that good & be published or the book was so bad that I was angry that something so crappy could get published. But as I’ve been working with Erma this year, and being more respectful of my dream and of my ability to realize it, I’ve felt more open to reading again. I was pulled to reread this particular book for a reason, and that reason is that it is inspiring me & my work.

The book I’m rereading is an epic fantasy (which is what I’m writing), and the author has been compared to Tolkien, Jordan, and Goodkind; all the biggies. I still have a slight sense of “that’snotfairwhyhernotme,”—which obviously makes no rational sense, but those kind of feelings are never rational. The feeling is there, and I am working on making peace with it. I’m telling myself it’s ok to feel that way, and that I can still enjoy this book, that this book can be a sort of mentor.

And once I saw it that way, I felt a shift. The grumbly jealousy got a little smaller, and the flame of hope got a bit brighter (aaahhhh what an epic-fantasy-sort-of-metaphor: a flame of hope! I might need to work that into my story). A mentor—now that’s a way to connect with another’s dream.

I’m going to mull these ideas over today, and the rest of this month. I have the coffee all fresh and hot, and Erma is settling in for a long chat, holding out her cup expectantly.

Here’s to continued dream progress,
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