I don’t know if I’m in a funk because I’m not writing, or if I’m not writing because I am in a funk. This particular cause effect relationship has always been unclear to me.
Which is why when I saw this tweet by Rachel Syme being shared by multiple people, I could relate instantly.
What was even more amazing is the great number of people who echoed these feelings. Guess we aren’t all that different!
A couple of days ago, I was filling in a questionnaire for a friend of a friend, and one of the questions was about my first publication. I couldn’t remember and so I had to trawl through my emails, looking for what and when. As it turned out, it was a poem, A Tattoo and A Cat, which was published in the May-June 2014 issue of Reading Hour magazine.
In the process however, I also stumbled upon a number of other pieces that were rejected. Every, “thank you for sending us your work, but this is not for us,” replicated multiple times, till it hurt too much.
Bearing the burden of these rejections is an integral part of any writer’s life. It is important to remember, that these rejections do not mean that one’s work isn’t good. It just means that one must try harder, or simply that the piece just doesn’t belong to that particular platform. One must keep the faith, in oneself, or at the very least in the alien that crouches within us, churning out magic.
In any case, here is one of those pieces from the past that my alien produced. It was rejected, (but of course!) but reading it brought back the memories of me writing this, based on a dream that I had. Do let me know in the comments what you think of it!
The Secret History of Dreams
Once upon a time, only the Storytellers could dream. Every night as the people of the world slept they sat cross legged on the floor of the Grand Temple of Storytellers, humming and rocking gently from side to side, as they wove the dreams. The world’s pain was theirs; the rage and disappointment was theirs; but so was all the beauty. Their song was a lullaby of peace –a gift of dreamless sleep.
As the night uncoiled, so did the silver skeins of dreams. The Storytellers patiently teased the color out of the wispy threads as they arranged them in increasingly complicated patterns–luscious reds and cool blues, citrusy yellows and calming greens. By the time the sun peeked out from the horizon, the tapestries were ready and hung on the walls of the Temple.
Shimmering and shivering in the cool morning breeze the tapestries waved greetings to the waking world. Their scent was carried by the wind into every home.
Every day thousands came to the Temple and marveled at the skill of these master weavers. They stood hypnotized by the colors that looked solid and airy at the same time. They read the stories that the dreams told and left satisfied and thankful.
Happiness however, is never universal. There were some who were jealous of the Storytellers. They were men and women who forged the darkness into prisons and chains. “Why must they have all these beautiful dreams? We want them too.” They sought to steal the dreams away.
For many years they tried, and for many years they were foiled. The stolen dreams would melt into the earth or be soaked up by the sky. They tried destroying the Temple itself, but no matter what weapons were used, the Temple stood unscathed as if held up by some strange inner force.
Covetousness became disappointment and disappointment became anger. Anger grew into rage –a murderous monster that threatened to swallow the sun. “We must kill the Master Storyteller”, they decided.
One night, as the Storytellers wove, the threads fell apart in their hands. The Temple shook as if suffering from a fever. With fear choking them, the Storytellers looked around, and noticed that their Master was gone.
Morning never came. Plunged into an unending night, the people panicked. “The Master will die tonight”, they whispered.
Tearful and bent, the Storytellers crept to the prisons to beg for mercy and were sickened by the cruel figures adorning the prison walls. The floor thrummed as if to the beat of some disfigured heart. Gargoyles and devil heads leered from above, urging every person who entered to abandon all humanity. Shadows whispered evil things. This was truly the belly of a beast.
Inside, the Master sat at peace. With his eyes closed, he was meditating. The room was dark, but his inner light shone through, illuminating the space around him.
“Master, they say you will die”, they cried.
“Yes, I will,” he smiled.
“With you gone, we can no longer weave the dreams. The dreams will be blown away into the eyes of the people and they cannot see as we do. No good can come of this!”
“This day too is destined. The dreams will escape, yes. The Temple will fall. But not all will be lost. Not all will see, but some will and that is enough for the world.”
“What should we do then Master? Where will we go? The Temple is our home.”
“You will have no home. Everywhere is your residence. Travel. Give the people the gift of stories, so they know what to do with the dreams. Teach them to see.”
The disciples wept and the Master smiled.
When the executioner came, they surrounded the Master. They looked into the executioner’s soul, searching for a spark of mercy, but he was as cold and dark as the moonless night. Then they knew that the Master had spoken the truth.
With one stroke of the sword, the Master was split in two. A stream of light poured out, and rose to the heavens. Fixed in the firmament, the Master’s light became the Sun.
The Darkness was expelled, but the Light was now tinged with bitterness. Without the tapestries, the Day was no longer fresh.
Ever since then, everyone dreams. Broken dreams. Frustrated dreams. Forgotten Dreams. Nightmares.
Occasionally there was a pure dream of beauty, reminding the dreamer of the Temple and its tapestries.
The Storytellers dispersed like pollen. Nomads telling stories and providing scaffolding for the dreams.