This is What Dreams Are Made Of

Ten points to the correct age group who just got that title reference.

I know it’s been a while, but as it turns out I’ve been really busy! NYC may be the city that never sleeps, but that’s also a good descriptor of me trying to get the most out of my time here. As I write this, just over one of my four months here has elapsed and that is a scary, scary thought.

And yet, I’ve already done so much!

At the end of the last post, I was off to see a production of Medea, which was one of the most amazing pieces of theater I’ve ever seen. Since then, I’ve gone back to the Globe to see Comedy of Errors – SO MUCH BETTER on stage than while reading it – gone back to Edinburgh, Scotland, for a weekend and turned in my first paper of the semester. Along with a bunch of other stuff.

The thing I want to highlight in this post, though, is my trip to Hampton Court a few IMG_0975weekends ago. If you don’t know, I’m a huge Tudor history buff and Hampton Court is just about THE PLACE to go if you love Henry VIII and his crazy family.

I’ve wanted to go for years. I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to go. It’s a bit out of the city and tickets aren’t all that cheap, so I ended up having to beg a friend to go with me. (HI SARA I LOVE YOU.) (I’m a sucker for going places alone.)

IMG_1000Getting there was like entering a dream. Pictures and videos will never make you ready for the real thing. It was the absolute definition of the word “majesty.” It was just so gigantically huge that I thought it would swallow me whole and then I’d need a week to find my way back out again. I almost did.

We went ahead and got those audio guide things, which was a great decision because the overall signage in the rooms wasn’t great. There was so much information on them that I don’t know how anyone was going without. We wandered through the rooms of Georgian kings, the suites of William and Mary and then finally – saving the best for last – the rooms of Henry VIII.

It was like I’d stepped through my TV screen. Finally, finally, the crest of Anne Boleyn and IMG_1004the ceiling dedicated to Jane Seymour and the gallery where the ghost of Katherine Howard is said to walk. All in front of me.

I don’t want to gush over long about all this, but I guess my point is that there are dreams that eventually do come true. What sounded crazier than saying “I want to visit this random palace in England” just a few years ago? And now I’ve done it. I’ve wandered the Hampton Court maze and traipsed through Henry’s great hall and now I own a mug with Henry and his wives on it, where the wives disappear when you fill it with hot water.

I did it. That dream came true. And it feels like I can do anything next.

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Is there a demon worse than writer’s block? Yes, yes there is.

So, usually, writers think that writer’s block is their greatest enemy. I mean, what’s a writer without the ability to write? For good reason, writer’s block has become the demon that haunts all writers’ nightmares. But did you think that’s the only thing that goes bump in the writer’s night? Did you think it was the worst thing? Because THINK AGAIN.

Now you’re laughing at me, right? Because writer’s block is the very stuff nightmares are made out of for a writer. The idea that you just can’t pick up a pencil or tap some keys and make words come out and form stories because all the sudden your imagination is barren and you’re stuck worrying for days and an weeks and months if maybe you’ve finally killed your brain and there is just no more creativity to be had. The very thought makes life a lot less worth living. But, if the past couple of weeks have taught me anything, there is most certainly something worse.

At least, with writer’s block, there are things you can do to help yourself. You take a break, curse your characters some, and swear you’ll never write them again if they don’t hurry up and behave. There are writing exercises you can do, or it just gives your fingers a well deserved break. Good things can come out of writer’s block if it doesn’t drive you to drown in despair first.

But imagine not being able to do ANYTHING. Imagine having ideas that you want to write but not being able to. Your laptop is sitting right on your desk, your notebook is resting right in your drawer—right there, all in reach. But you CAN’T WRITE.

Welcome to the nightmare that is carpal tunnel.

This had been my nightmare for the past two weeks. Luckily for me, all it took was a few weeks of resting in an arm brace for me to get right back at it again. Not going to lie, certain things still hurt like all get out, but there was only so much time I could take away from my writing before I went nuts. There are few forms of torture so agonizing as being able to touch your keyboard and smooth your notebook pages but not being able to tap the keys or curl your hand around a pen. You start wondering just what you did in a past life to deserve this, right before the laptop and notebook start laughing at you and your pain. The kicker is that carpal tunnel comes from writing and typing too much, so clearly you’ve been interrupted right in the middle of this great flow of creativity that is now being forcibly stopped up. It makes your head want to burst. All you want to do is sleep because you HURT and hopefully when you wake up enough time will have passed that you don’t hurt anymore.

Now, granted, there are some things you can do. For instance, I have speech recognition software on my computer, so there was that. I wasn’t completely dead in the water, no matter how I felt. But, for me, speaking aloud doesn’t allow me the same connection with my subconscious that produces words in the perfect conduit onto the page. It’s something, but it’s not enough. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

So there you are, my fellow writers. There’s a new nightmare for your dreams, a new scary story to tell around your campfires. I hope you sleep well tonight.