Thursday, November 05, 2015

Thursday Thoughts with CJane Elliott

 The Weird and Helpful World of Dreams

Every year Dreamspinner Press had an author’s conference and they give us these beautiful leather journals. I write down my dreams in them, something I’ve done for many years. The problem is, dreams are weird. Most of the time I have no idea what the heck my dreams “mean,” especially at first blush. I read a book a long time ago that suggested dream images don’t have one universal meaning (like Freud suggested), but that as we start noticing and listening to our own dreams, we can come up with meanings that are relevant to our lives.

Dreams do send messages or make commentary, sometimes in sneaky or funny ways. I had several close friends in college who were gay/lesbian and we used to like to go dancing in the gay clubs in DC. I kissed a few girls and liked it okay but I’ve always been pretty much a 1 on the Kinsey scale. One night after going out with my friends I dreamed that I was standing in a closet and I wasn’t coming out. That was all, but it made me laugh.

Some of the dreams in my books are from my own life. My first novel Serpentine Walls features a kid in college whose parents are going through a divorce. It was a reflection of my own life at that age. My parents had split up, we had to move out of our family home, and it all basically sucked. Here is the dream I had at the time, as re-told through the eyes of my main character Pete:

He’s outside his house, but he’s lost his key and can’t get in. Now he’s inside, standing in the foyer. All of the furniture is unfamiliar. Adults in black mourning clothes are in the hallway, and they say, “We’re sorry for your loss.” His eyes fill with tears and he keeps groping in his pocket for the key, but it’s not there.

Pretty simple but it says so much. And it helped me, because of the image of the adult mourners who were sharing my loss. I didn’t feel so alone.

Dreams come from what Jung called “the unconscious.” And far from being asleep, our unconscious is always at work – integrating experiences, providing helpful “commentary” (in the form of dream images), and offering solutions.

Recently, my third novel, Sex, Love, and Videogames, was released. And the very first review I got from a review site was a two-star pan. Ouch! But I couldn’t wallow in my pain (although I really, really wanted to) because I had blog posts to write and adult stuff to do. I had this dream about a week later:

I’m in a restaurant with M. (my husband) and a waitress is tallying our bill. It’s an expensive restaurant and the waitress seems a bit snobbish. M. shows her a bad bruise that’s on the small of his back and she doesn’t seem to care. I’m shocked that he’s been wounded. I call J. (my hyper-competent sister) and ask if she can get her friend the nurse to check it out.

Okay. Here’s my interpretation: men in my dreams often stand for creativity. M. had been bruised, i.e., my creativity had been bruised (by the two-star review) and my bruises were exposed in this kind of glitzy setting where I didn’t fit in and no one cared (the m/m blog world). I called on my competent side (my sister J. and her friend the nurse) to come help. And I realized that this was the way I could deal with the bruise – by being competent and productive and continuing on with life. That was helpful!

So I’ll continue to write my dreams down, even the weird ones, when I remember them. And if you ever have a dream you want to share with me, please do. I find them fascinating!

Sex, Love and Video Games

Shy guy Jed Carter has always felt invisible next to his charismatic older brother, Kent. Kent’s master plan for Jed is simple: University of Virginia, fraternity, business, sports, and ladies’ man. None of it is Jed, except for playing on the rugby team, which he joins in defiance of soccer-loving Kent. Jed comes out in his sophomore year and starts seeing Pete, an attractive junior, who uses him for sex and videogames. Jed wants more—in life and in love—and starts making his own plans. First on the list: getting to know Charlie, the handsome guy working at the local videogame arcade.

Charlie Ambrose has always felt like an oddball, and not just for his tendency to stutter. Being gay sets him apart from his African-American community, and as a “townie,” he doesn’t fit in with the college crowd. Charlie’s inspiration is his cousin, Morocco, who’s transgender and doesn’t give a fig about fitting in. Art is Charlie’s passion, and when a local videogame designer discovers him, Charlie’s living a dream. The only thing he’s missing is love. But the last person Charlie expects to find it with is a cute, white U.Va. rugby player named Jed.

Sex, Love and Video Games is available from Dreamspinner Press as is the whole Serpentine Series.

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.

In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

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