When dreams chase you

I believe we should all chase our dreams. But, I’ve come to believe that when your dreams start chasing you, it’s time to stop running.

Most of my life I dreamed of being a published author. I’d long had articles regularly published in suburban newspapers ringing Memphis, Tennessee, where I worked the better part of 20 years as a reporter. But I desperately wanted to write mysteries. 

So over the years, while still working at newspapers, I did. I wrote desperately bad mysteries that no respectable agent would touch, even with gloves on. Off and on over a decade, I wrote and shopped pitiable manuscripts. I queried scores of agents and amassed rejections in self-addressed, stamped envelopes. But, over time my writing and plotting improved.

Six years or so ago, I started querying the Liv & Di manuscript. I got a phone call from an agent I admired – and an offer. Next came a deal with a publisher, a contract, and an editor. I felt like I’d been thrown into the deep end of the publishing pool without much idea what I was doing. I was excited — and scared, but mostly I loved it! 

After fulfilling my three-book contract with Kensington, they picked up Liv & Di for a fourth book. After that, they dropped the series. I was already working on a new series, which found a home for at least three books (I thought!) with a well-respected boutique publisher. The Café Cinema series was dropped after just one book, and I found my series orphaned, along with about 40 other authors who were in the same sinking boat with me.

Since then, I’ve put together three series proposals that my agent shopped. One got unceremoniously turned down by everyone. One garnered an offer that I turned down. And one editor loved the characters and the set-up on the proposal, but not so much the writing. I was offered the chance to do a major revision. The series was based on a concept from the editor. I wasn’t sure she knew what she wanted; I didn’t. So I declined doing the rewrite. I tortured myself over that decision for a while, since it was a big publisher.

Still, in the five years since my first book was published. I’ve had five books published, so I wasn’t really depressed about the state of things. Just confused about what to do next. This is where my darling husband stepped in. “Vickie, you’re not under contract for anything. Why don’t you write that book you’ve been talking about for the past couple of years. You light up whenever you talk about it.” 

The statement about me lighting up when I talked about it struck a chord. It was the same thing my psychologist had said to me. “You have a certain excitement when you talk about writing projects, but you really light up when you talk about that one.”

So I started on an outline for “that” book, which is different from anything I’ve written previously. Actually, I already had a file full of bits and pieces of plot and dialogue I’d been squirreling away for at least two years. I tried starting the story with four different openings and was struggling a bit with point of view. Then some medical stuff hijacked my time and attention. (No worries, I’m much better now).

So I’ve done zip on the manuscript for months. My husband has been encouraging me to start writing something, anything for the state of my mental health —and his. (I get sullen and cranky when I don’t write). Then, lately, I started dreaming about the book. I’ve had dreams before in which my characters have appeared, but never dreams which were actually helpful. But recently, I’ve had two separate dreams in which pieces of the plot and a troublesome character started revealing themselves to me!

Don’t get me wrong, I still have LOTS to work out to finish this book. And it’s not under contract, so I have no guarantees it will ever sell. But after pursuing my dreams for so long, it now feels like my dreams are pursuing me! It’s a great feeling, and it has me ready and excited to get busy writing again. (Note to Chicks: Be prepared to receive texts about doing writing sprints!)

Images: Pixabay

Have you ever woke up and felt that a dream in the night was relaying a message to you? Share in comments.

45 thoughts on “When dreams chase you

  1. I received a message from my Dad in a dream. He said that they were all waiting for me. I woke up freaked up saying no I’m too young and still have things that I want to do. I have just recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

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  2. When I was a high school teacher I was very honest in my comments on a Middle States evaluation of the ten-school school evaluation. They were supposed to be anonymous, but the principal found out. (Need I say that his autocratic style was one of the things I was honest about?) So I was summarily transferred and demoted. Rather than return that fall I traded up and became a community college professor. I am not a dream rememberer, but the night I got “sacked” was different. I awoke from a dream-chat with a recently deceased friend who told me, “College professors don’t teach all day, every day. Now you can do what you’ve always wanted to do . . . write.” It took me twenty years, but I published my first mystery in 2020.

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      1. Jen, a psychologist told me you know you’re in a good head space (and have healthy self esteem) when you are the hero in your dreams. That rarely happens, but I’ll definitely settle for my protagonist being the hero in my dreams!

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  3. Vickie, this is so exciting! I can’t wait to read it! I’ve never had anything like that happen to me, but I hear stories all the time about people devastated by getting fired/divorced/diagnosed/pregnant/etc … and then it turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to them, sending them off on a trajectory they never could have imagined for themselves. I find it very inspirational. I’m not big into the woo-woo, but it always seems that other forces might be at play.

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    1. Thanks, Becky! I do believe God sometimes speaks to us in dreams. I also think sometimes stuff we’re avoiding works itself out sub-consciously and shows up in our dreams. And I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Congrats, Vickie, for having the courage to follow your dreams! I think that’s what writing is all about.
    I love the state of the publishing industry today. When I began the Natalie McMasters Mysteries, I was concerned that the stories were too sexy, too violent, too profane and just too out there for mainstream publishing. And yet, I just had to write it the way I saw it. Well, I was right; no agent wanted it, even after a year of queries, so I followed my dreams and published it with KDP. Six books later, I have fans and the series is still going strong. Somehow in my latest book, I gave the impression that it’s the last one, and I since received several pleas to keep it going.
    If I was writing even twenty years ago, my series would have never even seen the light of day.
    So I anxiously await your dream book, Vickie. Bring it on!

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  5. Vickie,
    Thank you for this post. I believe you wrote this just for me. I get it. This is a message for me to get off my butt and finish my edits. I promise all the Chicks I will work the heck out of my edits this week after I get off work. Which is so hard to do when I am so exhausted. But I won’t let anyone or anything interfere.
    As far as other world influences, I do believe. Right before each of my kids were born I had a dream telling me about medical/ mental problems they would have. Bi-polar, hole in the heart, hearing voices. And each one did come true. Yes, sometimes it’s God (if you believe), your subconscious or some other person telling you what is important.
    Even my mother believes. She was contemplating suicide years ago, and my grandmother came to her in the shower saying “don’t do it. Your daughter is pregnant.” A week later I called mom and folder her she was going to be a grandmother.

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    1. Hestia, I do believe the word to your mom in the shower was a supernatural intervention — wow! I’ve never had any doubt you would finish your book — you’re a can-do, get things done kind of gal! Sounds like you’re close to a finished, polished manuscript. Yay!! Keep at it, but don’t impose a strict one-week deadline to finish edits. That could just drive you nuts!

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  6. Vickie,
    I understand both sides of what you are writing. When I started One Taste Too Many, I zoomed through half of it and then my mom died. I didn’t write for four months. When I began again, I pushed to the end of the book and knew it didn’t work from the middle to the end. I put it aside and worried about it, but didn’t know what to do. It was in a dream or that wake up from the dream moment that it hit me….the message was loud and clear… “You have the wrong killer, idiot!” Kindly, the dream supplied me with the right killer, too. I threw out half the book and rewrote from the point I knew it was stiff. Once again, the writing flew as it worked its way to the right killer. Finished, the book found an agent and sold. The beginning of what, by next summer, will be at least five books.

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    1. That is so cool!
      I had one year I was prepping for nano, and one of my main characters told me which story idea to follow and that he wanted a more exciting part. This happened to be right at the moment when nano hit 100k followers, and they had said something special would happen when they hit the mark.

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    2. Wow, Debra, that’s great! (And, by the way, the killer did work in that book!) Grief can definitely shut things down. I remember walking around in a fog for months after my dad died. So glad your book gave you a wake up call!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I remember reading Anne Rice say when she wrote Interview With the Vampire how it gushed out of her onto the page. I feel I’m a slow writer. I don’t get a gush of words — usually more of a trickle. But writing sprints definitely help prime the pump!

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  7. This post made me SO happy, Vickie! I am so excited for you–and for all of us readers!–and can’t wait to read “the book”!

    I do occasionally dream about plot points and characters, and wake up thinking, “Ohmygod, that is PERFECT!” Only to realize once I’m fully awake, that it’s completely cliché or ridiculous. I guess I need to work more on my dream life…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Vickie!!! I’m so excited for you. I can’t wait to read your “dream” project. And yes, I have had the occasional dream revelation. I have a memory of actually dreaming a whole plotline once – of course now I can’t remember which one it was. But I’m stuck on one project storyline, so here’s hoping your post will inspire a dream that delivers me the answers I need!

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    1. Thanks, El! It would be nice if we could order the kind of dreams we want — like takeout dinners! Fingers crossed that your dreams give you the storyline answers you need!

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  9. Years ago after my step-father died, I dreamt I was sitting in my bedroom at home, which later became his office, when he walked down the hall, stopped at the door, laughed at me and said,” You still don’t get it. Only family matters.” I still hear that in my head when I’m stressed.

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    1. Keenan, it’s reassuring to hear from those we care about after they’ve crossed over. And those were words of wisdom from your step-father!

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  10. Well, darn it all, why can’t I dream helpful plots and resolutions? I rarely remember any dreams, but I enjoyed reading about all of these. A year ago or so, though, I dreamed my late mom showed up in a very sunny atrium of what I gathered was some kind of fancy hotel. She was all dressed up and carried a clutch purse. “Come on, Lisa, let’s go,” she said, in a very chip-chop way. “It’s time. Stephanie’s (my daughter) water just broke.” This message was enough to actually wake me up, and I looked at the clock. 3 am. At 6 am my daughter texted me to say her water had broken 3 hrs. earlier (she hadn’t wanted to wake me) and she would be on her way to the hospital soon. And you know, I just wasn’t that surprised. Can’t wait to sprint with you, Vickie! We can work on our new manuscripts together!!!!! xo

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  11. Aw, Lisa, you’re mom was very excited about the new baby, and wanted to share the experience with you! And, you’re on for sprints! Jen said she’s up for it, too!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Aw I love this so much, and I super-duper love that you’re writing the book that’s been asking to be written (and following you into dreamland!).

    My subconscious likes to pop into my dreams and remind me of things: where I left my keys, who I forgot to call, why such-and-such is happening and so on. Very handy!

    PS I’m ready to join you for sprints and can’t WAIT to read the book!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kathy! Look forward to sprints! Wish my subconscious worked as a lost and found bureau like yours! Hubs and I are forever misplacing things!

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