Friday, March 18, 2005

I mentioned over at my other blog that my new novel, Self Storage, was turned down by my editor at HarperCollins this Monday (the same day as Mimi's death). I didn't mention that I had an apocalyptic dream that night, in which white birds--doves, I suppose--were falling from the night sky by the droves. I'm sure there is all sorts of symbolism to be found in this dream--my fears of endless war (doves of peace plummeting), my sadness about Mimi's death, etc., etc. It feels connected to the book situation, somehow, too. The fact that HarperCollins published The Book of Dead Birds surely has something to do with it--the dream was full of dead birds, after all. But I think that their whiteness may also symbolize my early innocence as a writer; I feel as if I have lost a lot of that, even before I received this news. The publishing world has given me many, many gifts, but it can also be a cold place. Once I became published, it took me awhile to find joy in the writing process again; thoughts of marketing and sales numbers entered my consciousness and prickled like burrs. I have reclaimed that joy, but it is a joy suffused with a new knowledge of the wider world now. My birds are no longer so white.

I am full of hope, though. In the rest of the dream, a friend and I were able to shut down a power plant (or maybe restore power there--it's hard to remember exactly what was going on, but it involved a lot of ladder climbing and big gray machines) and in doing so, we essentially saved the world. I know the world of my book is going to be saved; it will find new life elsewhere. I am doing some revision now, based on great, specific, advice from Barbara Kingsolver; my agent will send the book out far and wide when it's ready. She assures me it will find an excellent home. Maybe even one where brightly colored birds fill the sky.


Damian McNicholl said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your Aunt's passing and the news about your book. Your description of the dolphin pod was exquisite. I saw them right before my screen. I know your book will find another home, the right home. That's what's important. There are still white birds awaiting you at another house.

gayle said...

Thank you so much, Damian. Your words are a very welcome balm.