I encouraged my classes to keep journals. Some of the kids did a great job enthusiastically. Some refused. Others humored me to maintain their grade average. I never read any of their journals, but those who were enthusiastic confided in me. The others informed me of their displeasure! Into this atmosphere of mixed feelings I introduced the concept of writing down their daydreams (first for extra credit—those I read, made comments and inspired a genuine assignment). The Reluctant responded reluctantly. The Enthusiastic enthused me.
So, I’m writing this blog to encourage anyone and everyone to put your daydreams on paper. You will be surprised at what a fulfilling and cleansing a release it is. It doesn’t matter whether anyone else reads it. It’s yours.
I’m eighty now. I haven’t even talked to a seventeen-year-old in thirty years, but I still write my daydreams (and some night ones, too) down almost every day. The joy is in the writing. I write them up to twelve hundred words, read them again and again, then edit them, choosing just the right words and analyzing the mechanics. When all is to my satisfaction, I DELETE THEM!
I believe if the faint of heart will do this once, they will do it again… and then again because the feeling is euphoric.
In the 1950s, I wrote some stuff for White Birches Press (they published trade rags). An editor at Collier’s Magazine saw a short story I wrote about a farm boy who had to take a bath every Saturday night in the dead of winter and contacted me to ask if I would write for them. I was thrilled and penned a total of six short stories. They bought them all (at about $6 per fifteen hundred words). The bulk of them were never printed, and I mention this because early in 1957, the magazine ceased to exist. I don’t know if I contributed to its demise or not.
The downside was that I never got a by-line. The magazine put the names of well-known authors on our work to sell more issues. Good, seasoned authors couldn’t meet the demand to fill the pages week after week. The upside was that my words got printed in a national magazine when I was a junior in college!
MY POINT IS: few will become authors, even fewer renowned. It’s the writing that’s important, as therapy. It doesn’t matter whether one is a skilled surgeon or a homeless drug addict, everyone daydreams, so why not write them down?
Writing is like sex. Sure it’s more rewarding when shared with someone, but solo it’s quite satisfying, too. Besides, if you write for your own amusement (or amazement) you needn’t worry about criticism, bad grammar, or poor mechanics. Think of it as writing yourself a note. I recommend reworking it, adding a little here, eliminating something there. When every comma is to your satisfaction, DELETE IT! The rush, or orgasm, if you will, comes when you hit “YES!” in response to your “Are you sure this works?”
Think I’m crazy? Of course I am, but you’ll be astounded at the mental release (relief) that frees you from what ails you. Again, this cleansing exercise is not for the faint of heart. Back in the days when I was a poorly paid senior English teacher, those who indulged in journal writing (the girls called it a diary) couldn’t stop any more than I could.
However, capturing a daydream isn’t the same as writing in a journal or a diary. It is fantasy and fiction. If I may, here is an example:
Once, when I was traveling with family and researching colleges back east, we spent some time visiting Civil War and Revolutionary War sites. At a town in Pennsylvania, Caernarvon (pronounced Karen Rvon), where the British fired on refugees, killing several, we paused for a picnic at a historic marker. As I sat gazing at the now peaceful scene where once occurred such senseless carnage, I envisioned the scene (daydreamed) and eventually wrote it down. The act caused me to release feelings I’d pushed deep down inside about a day I’d experienced while in the army. At the time, personal computers didn’t exist, so I wrote everything down on a yellow legal tablet with a pencil, and I didn’t delete it as I would have on a PC. I burned it.
Without realizing it, by doing what I did, a day (too horrible to reiterate here) disappeared. To this day I am unable to recapture the memory. NOT THAT I WANT TO.
So, I leave you with this thought. Try it. The results will be worth it. That’s not a guarantee, but why not?
Copyright © Verl Hatch, February 27, 2015. All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be used or produced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, email the author: firstname.lastname@example.org