December 6, 2007

Dreaming in Color

Do you dream in color? Or do you only think you do? Do you really dream in black and white and the memory of that Technicolor pony in a red sports car is just that -- only a memory. Evaporated like an ice cube on a warm plate.

Many mornings, as I lie in bed listening to the warm air rattling through the vents overhead, struggling to remember the colors in my dreams, I worry that I've only imagined them. And I'm just wasting my time trying to remember. And that no matter how good it was, it was only a dream. Only a collection of my crazy, giddy, mournful pasts colliding with unrealized events of the next moment. But still I lie there and wish in vain that the dream will linger. That the good things will last a little longer.

And that maybe by some happy accident, I can make the good dreams happen. Again. And That maybe, by sheer will and imagination, I can, like some magician or clown with a million bright scarves up my sleeve, make up a colorful dream. One with the right plot. With exceptional characterization and superb pacing. If I could just get it right ... just like last time. Revise. Rewrite. Repeat.

I think we writer types do this with fiction to some degree. We strain to construct the fictive dream, a trap of sorts intended to snare our readers in emotion, in a sensational journey that will resonate with the entire cosmos, change the course of history, or at least bend time and space long enough for a housewife to escape and relax.

We want to create the perfect fictive dream. Vivid. Unique. Better. The BEST. But it is all just a stab in the dark. Considering that out of the 6 billion or so people on the globe, not one is like me (or you). 6 billion people with countless emotional buttons. No one of us exactly the same. Sure we share commonalities, from person to person, and sometimes even across cultures. But as it's been said, 'My blues ain't like yours.'

So we writers hone our craft. We subject ourselves to sleepless nights and endless rejection. And for what? To have a reader say, 'that was a good book.'

A GOOD BOOK. The highest compliment, indeed.

But what makes a good book? One with the right plot? With exceptional characterization and superb pacing? One that resonates on the deepest emotional level? One that has the widest, most endearing compelling appeal? But what emotions and what endearments would propel our reader into the dream and leave them there indefinitely, comparing us to Morrison or Plath or Mosley as the Holy Spirit draws them ever closer to the Truth?

So to manage our pursuit of the good fictive dream, we define an audience. And we narrow down to our target reader. Our Becky. We find a niche. And we stick to it. We plot for it. We characterize for it. We get deep in the dream. 10,000 Leagues into it. The journey to THE GOOD BOOK.

But I wonder now, like I do many mornings as I lie there listening, if I've lost touch with reality. If I will ever find that emotionally resonating place, humming like a tuning fork with brilliant color, with deep meaningful wide appeal. Because I don't just want to write for black folks. I don't like it that I'm expected to only be able to write church dramas or be sassy or gritty. I want to write about all people, for all people; not an imprint of people.

At the risk of being dis-invited from the party, I want to say that I don't like being pigeonholed into the 'black' box. I looked and I couldn't find the 'yellow' box or the 'red' box. But there is a black one. It's there and I think it's gonna stay. It works for the industry, I won't mess with it but I don't have to like it. That box is the reality of marketing, even in the Christian ain't-we-all-reconciled-yet marketplace. (Is my book in print saying, it's a good book or good enough for this box?)

Truth be told, the dream has evaporated a little and the colors have faded. But I'm not sure they were there in the first place.


Enough I'm-not-an-angry-black-female reflection for now. Tomorrow, I'll post more survey responses. If you'd like to take my survey, visit Be sure to visit your email box after you click submit for an important message. Thanks.

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