Wandering in a Fiction Dreamland
by John Andreula
edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
In recent weeks I’ve been hearing a lot of questions regarding my ongoing fiction epic The Dreamer.
What is The Dreamer?
Where does the inspiration come from?
How did you decide to write it?
Where the hell is it going?
In this edition of The Wanderer I want to answer these questions and set the record straight.
This will be entirely different from my normal local event and travel-based wanderings and musings. I plan to still include some of my standard witty commentary, but I will be writing about a new brand of wandering that I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of recently.
That wandering is my fiction writing, specifically the process of creating my ongoing fiction epic entitled The Dreamer.
For the past few months I’ve been writing this long-form story called The Dreamer. If you are reading this than I suspect you may have seen that. It’s been a complicated process, to say the least.
Needless to say, writing fiction for my own enjoyment, and absolutely no expectation of financial compensation, places it fairly far down the flow chart that is my to do list. Yet, still I write, and still I love it.
The Dreamer is my baby. It’s like another child that doesn’t cost me money. It doesn’t talk back or test its boundaries, and it does not interrupt the other important stuff unless I allow it to.
Aside from my daughter’s birth, creating The Dreamer is one of the very few instances in my life that I feel I am planting the seeds of a legacy that will remain for some time after I’m gone. It may sound a bit fatalistic, but it’s the truth.
So, I take time out to write The Dreamer, regardless of all the many reasons not to. Inspiration and flow are not always consistently on my team. My old tendencies of being a world-class procrastinator are always lurking in the shadows.
Still, I know that the story must go on. And either people are reading it or not. Somehow I’m okay with that. The main reason it’s getting written is because I want to do it. I’ve always wanted to write fiction, and now I’m actually doing it persistently.
Science fiction has inspired me since I was a youngster. Comic books, TV shows, movies, and video games have as well. These days I watch STRANGER THINGS and WESTWORLD. I still read X-MEN and SPIDER-MAN. With all of these, I think, I could write this stuff. Of course, I don’t…that is, until now.
Several times in the past decade I’ve sat down at my computer’s keyboard and began creating fiction works. The first attempt was a classic heroes and villains tale. Then I went pretty deep into a Gatsby-esque story about a middle-class man who receives an invitation to participate in some high-society debauchery. Lots of weird shit happened in those stories, but I eventually lost interest, or my train of thought, or both, and moved on.
Most recently I attempted to write a novella ghost story during last year’s NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo, for the uninitiated, is a yearly writing contest that takes place every October. Would-be and experienced writers attempt to write 50,000 words over the course of the month. Each sets a pace for themselves and proceeds by trying to create a daily writing habit, with the end goal of having a novel written during the contest.
NaNo was something I had always thought would be cool to do, so I gave it my best shot. I wrote fifteen thousand words, more than I had written for any other preceding work in my entire life.
But it wasn’t meant to be. About two weeks into the contest my health broke down. That project got shelved like the others.
I learned several things from my experiences writing those stories and participating in that writing contest though. First, too many things go through my mind while it engages in the process of story writing…
What if I do all this work and the story sucks?
What if nobody reads it?
What if they read it and don’t like it?
What the hell was I writing about anyway?
The answers never really mattered though. The questions were just road blocks my mind put up to prevent me from doing what my heart really wanted.
I learned, or shall I say relearned, that I am an Ares. I am predisposed to becoming distracted by the next shiny object. That, or I have done too thorough a job convincing myself of that over my lifetime.
My inner editor disrupts me similarly. Too many times in the past my perfectionist side killed the momentum of my creative one. All too often it seems to take over and get in the way of the universes I pen.
Lastly, I have always lacked the discipline to make fiction writing a high enough life priority. I had been dreaming of writing—forgive the pun—for so long, but had not made it my reality.
The Dreamer pushes me to change all of it.
I don’t care who reads this or The Dreamer. I’m doing it for me. I may see some sparkling distraction and chase it for a few minutes, but The Dreamer will be waiting for me.
The final learning, and perhaps the most difficult, was the discipline to prop fiction writing up high enough in my life. I want it bad. I know I want it. Sure I can play video games, watch Netflix, or do some other forms of mental masturbation, but I know I have to make sacrifices to make this writing happen.
Someone once said anything worth doing is going to be difficult. They were right. Writing long form fiction is incredibly arduous.
I am blessed to have 5280 Geek as a platform to launch the my story into the ethos. I’m blessed to have as many people reading it as are. And most importantly I am blessed to have this invincible desire to write the damn thing.
I think about The Dreamer all the time. I think about it when I get up in the morning. I think about it throughout the day. I think about it at night, and even in my subconscious while I dream.
That’s how The Dreamer began. Most of my fiction stories are birthed from the content of my dreams. The Dreamer was no different.
One night I dreamed I was Sierra. It was vivid, and lively, and dark. When I awoke I knew I would never be able to return to that wonderful experience.
It could have been quite depressing, but I’ve found I can capture some of those types of dreams within my memories by writing them down. I keep a journal near my bedside. That morning I wrote about my dream, and that was the beginning of The Dreamer.
Many of my dreams live on similarly in my notebooks. Thanks to the act of writing them down, some of them are still embedded within my imagination and memory, or wherever else they have made their homes within my mind.
The story I originally wrote about that dream grew into something entirely different. It became a longer story. It was so long that I had to break it into two parts. I felt the story had legs. I kept thinking about it and more and more concepts became developed. New characters and strange settings kept popping up in my mind. I even borrowed some characters from those previously shelved stories I had mentioned earlier.
It became a wonder-filled, fulfilling process. I can tell, there’s still so much more to be written and hopefully read.
Smurf, the brains behind 5280Geek.com and my encouraging and open-minded publisher, asked last week on Facebook, Where’s it all going? Even he, who reads comics that are numbered in the high hundreds, is concerned that The Dreamer may be off the rails. I hope to satisfy him and anyone else who is wondering the same.
I have ideas for where the story is going. In my head it makes sense. I know how it will all come together. But truthfully, I’m what’s known in the writing world as a “pantser.” Let’s just say that’s the opposite of a plotter and planner.
And much to the chagrin of my editor and lovely wife Kodid, every time I attempt to sit my hyperactive ass down and write an outline for The Dreamer I end up just writing more and more of the story. I cannot help it. It’s just the type of writer and person I am.
Sometimes I sit down to write more Sierra, and I won’t. And sometimes I sit down to write more about Seth Stanton, and I don’t. I ponder plot twists I have tucked away in my mind, and recognize myself and the story are not quite established enough yet to drop those bombs.
Unfortunately life still has a way of getting in the way of The Dreamer‘s creation. Time and energy are resources I have to allot strategically. Still, Sierra, Ty, and the Controller are always, always on my mind.
Even works like this one become creative ways of avoiding my epic. In no way does it mean that the story is lost. It just means that this was the piece I felt needed to be written now. That’s the beauty of being a writer. And one of my personal philosophies has been IDWIW, or I do what I want!
I have a vacation coming up next week. That bodes well for The Dreamer. I can even see the light at the end of a very, very busy work season. I see plenty of gaps where I’ll be able to continue to breathe life into The Dreamer.
For now, thank you to those who have been following my story. Thanks in advance to those who will continue to discover it.
Thank you to my accountabilibuddy Ian, who is engaged in the story. He provides me with much-needed positive feedback all along the journey.
And there is no thanks enough for Smurf, and for my wife, for trusting me and putting up with the wackiness that is my artistry.
I promise everyone more amazing chapters of The Dreamer. It will definitely all come full circle. I may possibly even end it one day.
Readers trust George R. R. Martin and his wandering, many charactered story. And we trusted J.K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien, and all the other writers with many initials in their names before. I probably should change my pseudonym to reflect this while I can.
Now it’s time to trust me. The journey that is The Dreamer has barely begun.
Most likely I will wander some more, because that’s my process. It’s what I do as a creative, and the person that I am.
The muse will get inside me and speak through my flow. Sometimes she may even take a right turn from the left lane, as in last week’s chapter Imagery, but it all fits into the story as whole.
Thanks for wandering with me this week, as always. And thanks as well for following along with Sierra and Ty and all the rest of the characters within The Dreamer. I look forward to bringing forth many more chapters in the future.
Until the next time we wander together,
aka The Wanderer