Filtering by Tag: dreaming

Best Anonymous Quotes of 2013

As 2013 comes to an end, I've found that words bring the clearest meaning. The last half of this year has been packed with words: from the manuscripts I've written, or not written, the little emails laced with hope and jokes, and advice from friends that helped me both laugh and contemplate where life has taken me since graduating with my MFA.

Now that I have an iPhone (oh yes I do), I've joined the modern world with things like Instagram and other amazing apps (sorry, Kindle Fire. I love you, but your apps stink). I experimented with a typography app as I crafted this post. This year more any other, words spoken and written by anonymous people seemed to have encapsulated my thoughts and feelings. So I wanted to share these quotes with you.


I love this twist on the classic "great minds think alike." I adored this quote right away because of the use of "wonder," one my most favorite words. But there's a lot to love here. It reminds me of the wondering that I've had the pleasure of doing with some great friends. I appreciate it even more now that I'm out of school.

Nothing beats being able to hash out a new story idea or difficult scene with a friend. In the MFA program, I was spoiled by being surrounded by like-minded writer friends who were just a floor away. I'd wash the red ink off my hands after a grueling grading session and wander through the halls, knocking on my friends' offices with a burning question on my tongue: "What point of view should I use? What do you think of me adding a tiger into the end of my story? How do I describe creme brulee without using the name?"

Without batting an eye, my writer-friends would divulge their opinions. We'd talk entirely too long about our respective projects and end each conversation complaining about the lesson plans still to write.

In the "real world," you don't often run into people who can have such conversations easily. I try to keep my craft-talk to a minimum, but I still get blank stares, polite smiles, and nods from my new work friends. They're happy and proud of me. They're also eager to peek inside the brain of a would-be writer, but what they find there doesn't make a lot of sense. This is usually the case for most writers.

My writer-friends are pure miracles, really, and getting to meet them on a free weekend over a greasy sandwich or hot bowl of soup raises my spirits. We burn our voices out talking at the speed of light about writer things, and I'm just thankful that I can have these conversations, even if they are more a treat now than the norm these days.


I've had a ton of dreams this year that probably stemmed from stress, but were nonetheless memorable (and draining). Have you ever dreamed something so real that you woke up fully expecting it? That was me, at least once a week. Those dreams usually had to do with me thinking I'd received an email or phone call that, upon waking and checking my Kindle Fire, I realized hadn't happened at all. 

Yet, other times, when the said email or call would come (just later in the afternoon), I wondered, "Well hey, am I psychic or something?" Then I'd daydream about the Oracle of Delphi and scold myself for putting off writing a novel about Apollo. 

For someone who writes in the vein of fantasy, my dreams are mundane. Weird stuff happens, but usually framed within spending time with friends and family and doing normal things, like grocery shopping. Magical realism that would be too boring to write about. But again, if I believed that even one little part of my dream was real, I'd wake up blinking and scrambling for proof. 

Having dreams like that is tiring. When I get to work, cracking my jaw over a big yawn, it's because the manic and worry that came with an ordinary dream dug its claws into me. At times like this, I wish I drank coffee. 


This little manta comes from Wren, my college buddy who just started a blog, The Wren's Nest. She, in turn, had heard it from an old friend, so perhaps it's got some history in it. 

2013 was not without its disappointments. Rejections, a writer's best friend, came flooding in for various manuscripts; as a consequence, I finally cleaned out the pints of ice cream in my freezer (the taste of mint chocolate chip ice cream is greatly improved when sprinkled with tears).

Eventually though, I was tired of feeling sorry for myself. It was a useless emotion that cramped my writing mood - and anything that prevents me from writing is bad news. "If not this, something better" came at just the right time when Wren and I stayed up late talking over the phone. What's great about this saying is that it leaves no room for negativity. If your expectations about anything don't happen, then you're asking for something even better to replace it. It welcomes life to surprise you.

It's hard to accept surprises when you're a writer, because when you create a world, you're the one who controls everything. You know which plot twist will send your main character reeling. You know what kinds of flowers grow behind the haunted mansion in your story, which villain will be redeemed by the third book, and how many paper clips is in your MC's math teacher's desk. But real life? Who knows what will happen? Sometimes, that's a good thing, especially when you invite extraordinary surprises in. 


I'm trying to follow my own advice here. Not too long ago, I wrote a post about being stuck in revision hell, along with facing writer's block. I think the gifs I used within that post accurately described what that was like, haha. With the help of my friends, NaNoWriMo, and a few well-placed contests (with tight deadlines), I think I'm back on my feet. 

After graduating, I tried to write at my normal speed, but it was difficult to rebuild my schedule without the program. Being a writer now meant finding small moments during the day to write a paragraph or map out a few chapters on the back of a post-it note. Tired from a long day of work, I'd curl up on the couch and blink blearily at the television screen until finally stumbling to bed. 

I haven't stayed up late to write in months. Weekends are dedicated to catching up on sleep, seeing friends, watching movies / reading books / and other things I can't do during the week. I'm totally an adult now. It's almost too easy to be normal with such a schedule. 

So seeing "Stay Weird" printed in bold script on a sweater was like a wake-up call to me (and a hit to my wallet, haha). I didn't forget to "stay weird," but the principle of it had slipped to the back of my head. 

Maybe that's why I had such a hard time writing. When I let go, the wheels started turning again. 


2013 was a mixed bag. It was a year of growth forced by the natural consequences of leaving academia's cozy yet frustrating bosom and launching into the brick wall that is the "real world." 

I've revised tens of thousands of words, shed substantial weight, developed a love of sweet potatoes and beans, mimicked Sonic the Hedgehog in meeting writing contest deadlines, and filled my life with a lot of music and life-changing books. 

I'm happy to say goodbye. Hello, 2014. Let's be friends. 


Young Sally: " He will hear my call a mile away. He will whistle my favorite song. He can ride a pony backwards."

Young Gillian: "What are you doing?"

Young Sally: "Summoning up a true love spell. called Amas Veritas. He can flip pancakes in the air. He'll be marvelously kind. And his favorite shape will be a star. And he'll have one green eye and one blue."

Young Gillian: "I thought you never wanted to fall in love."

Young Sally: "That's the point. The guy I dreamed of doesn't exist. And if he doesn't exist, I'll never die of a broken heart."

- Practical Magic

After returning to school, there are some things I can’t help but think about. It must be the dense atmosphere of young adults scurrying from building to building with textbooks and bicycles. I can see trails in the grass where students made their own paths to beat the evil threat of tardiness. Yes, even in college. And then sometimes you pass the couple happily strolling along with their hands entwined like they were dolls – their fingers sewn together as they slept in plastic cocoons inside the box. You can’t help but murmur, “Well, wow. How’s that going to feel when it’s my turn?”

You can both cast a dreamy grin and adjust your bag strap, looking up the sky and wiggling your fingers as if someone was touching them back. Or you could pout and wish that Ben & Jerry’s was in your immediate, general direction.

I actually wrote something concerning this (or maybe echoing it) in one of the online novels I’m writing. Here is a full chapter from my serial novel, Birdcage Girl, where my main character Ashlyn faces her own desires head on. The chapter is called “The Prince List.”

At the age of ten, Ashlyn decided she had five qualities she expected for any man who would become her husband. She sat on her knees inside the birdcage and flattened a piece of her mother’s sketch paper. Her little face screwed up in concentration as she slowly dragged out the list with a salmon-colored crayon:

1. I have to be able to hear him approaching.

2. He should have one crooked pinky.

3. He can make homemade marshmallows.

4. He can't sing better than me, but he can play the piano from memory.

5. He must like birds.

She saved it in her scrap drawer. Over the years it got buried under other lists and other doodles. But Ashlyn still remembers it. She figures that one day, when she unearths it, she’ll either:

1. Laugh at the absurdity of the list.

2. Wonder how her ten-year-old self knew.

Before Figment decided to limit the genre boxes (ah, another kind of list), I had Birdcage Girl ticked off as a romance. And it is. It just hasn't happened yet. Ashlyn has a lot of other things on her mind than finding a boyfriend, certainly, but it doesn't mean she’s not thinking about it. Those gauzy thoughts flutter in her head – way in the back, where they’re practically abandoned. But they are there. And I can say, with every assurance, that someone will step up soon to draw that fragile gauze out and into the light.

Like Ashlyn, I’m sure there has been a time in everyone’s life where we’ve made such a list (though right now I’ll speak specifically to the girls).

You’ve heard they’re bad for you. You watch these lists burn on television in fire pits or just with the flick of a lighter’s delicate tongue.

But there’s something more to them, or to any action involving dreaming up that wonderful person.

Whether you hope your significant other has webbed feet or can make a good ham sandwich, I think it’s important to have fun with these thoughts. Don’t carry the list around with you in your purse, taking it out whenever you see a cute guy in line at the coffee shop or while waiting for your car to be repaired. Rolling it up in a tube and using it as a spyglass is much more useful than meticulously checking off the boxes.

For anyone still wanting for that special someone to walk in the door… well, there are ways to make the interval easier: