“The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose.” Margaret Atwood
I wake with a start. I’m expected somewhere. Where am I supposed to be? Who knows? Nothing around me is recognizable. The fog gets thicker and I feel myself drift away into nothingness. Again.
The mist lifts. Momentarily. This time, I can see where I’m meant to be. I see the restless audience, my publisher pacing and eyeing her watch. I struggle with the door. It refuses to give. Then miraculously it does. I run toward my publisher. But the stage has shifted. The audience and publisher are across from me in another building. I can see them in the distance. I fan my arms; jump up and down as a four year old, in need of attention, might. I’m sure I’ve caught someone’s eye, but then it passes over me as though I’m not even there.
I fall again, only to wake to the same recurring feeling: I’ve been left behind. I’ve been unable to do what was expected, what I set out to do.
When the light seeps in through the curtains I see where I am. Looking around I try to figure out what day it is. Did I fulfill my commitments? What have I missed?
I’ve been on a tour promoting my book, The Brink of Freedom for the past few weeks. Rationally (when I can be that way), I know these nightmares and the malaise behind them have to do with being in a different city over several subsequent nights.
But then I think about the questions I’ve been asked by journalists and audience members alike. I shudder. What makes me an expert? Yes, I’ve spent a great deal of time researching and talking to people. Did I get it right? It’s a question I still ask myself even as I hold my book in my hands.
I could have made it all up. After all, my novel is a work of fiction. But I wanted to make it as real as possible. So maybe these cyclical dreams of mine are a reflection of my own insecurity, my own questioning brain.
That’s part of it, but it’s not the whole story either. As I write this, I realize I also want people to pay attention to the plight of refugees. That’s why I wrote the novel in the first place. My goal was to explore the lives of a few to help the reader understand the plight of all those people behind the sound bites and headlines.
But will the novel get traction? Will the stories contained within it be heard? With our 24-hour-ambulance-chasing-newscycle-reality, is it possible to hold anyone’s attention for any significant time? Or at least enough time to make a difference?
I don’t know. So the dreams/nightmares continue unabated. I’m okay with that. Better to be uncertain than to have all the answers.
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