I had a dream, as the poets say, which was not all a dream.
I was at some kind of literary convention, and Louisa May Alcott was at one of the booths, and she told me that my writing was promising enough that she would introduce me to her publisher. This publisher, she assured me, would be eager to purchase whatever my next project happened to be, even though I told her that I didn’t have any new ideas at the moment.
“That will all be fine,” she said. “Sign the contract now, and figure the rest out later.”
(This seems a very LMA thing to say, given what I know about her career.)
So I let her take me to meet her publisher.
As we were running through what appeared to be subterranean subway-like passages, she in her long black nineteenth-century dress and me in my usual clothes, Don Draper appeared. This did not register as a surprise to me, since L and have been watching (or, in my case, rewatching) Mad Men for the past month or so.
Don Draper was wearing a trenchcoat. We were, after all, technically outside — I mean, we were inside, but we were in the kind of inside that you only go through as a way to get from one outside to another, and if that isn’t a metaphor then I don’t know what is.
“Don’t do it,” he said. “Don’t go to this meeting. The second you start thinking about that kind of stuff — the money, the contracts, the awards, even the potential audience — your story is over. It becomes someone else’s story, and in your case you don’t even know what the story is yet. Why would you turn it over to someone else before you’ve had the chance to create it? Why would you give it up before you’ve gotten to live the experience of doing the best work you possibly can?”
That was the point at which I woke up.
Later that day, I told L about the dream.
The day after that — well, I suppose I’ll tell you about that tomorrow. ❤️