big questions book writing

Lost in the Lot

Last night, I had a dream that I couldn’t find my car in the world’s most complex, fourth-dimensional parking lot and garage. Every time I exited the door of the mall, at the very center of the lot, I would open up at another location that looked familiar, but was obviously a different place. And through the dream I ran around the lot, searching for my parking space number, but I just couldn’t reach my car. Everyone else seemed to get home just fine, but the vehicles in the lot wouldn’t diminish; it reached closing time, and I woke up just as I was about to be locked out of the building, leaving me in that labyrinth of parking hell.

I know people’s dreams are mostly just random neurons building a scenario in one’s head without true rhyme or reason, but the overarching sensation created by the scenario – in this case, the combination of being lost and confused – is real, and when it’s strong enough it’s not something to simply be ignored. And that’s about how I feel even now… a bit lost, sort of confused.

Not my image. Credit: Paul Chin, used on

I’ve been writing the manuscript for over two years now, and the second draft is maybe ⅔ of the way finished up. It’s coming along, with some hard scenes that need a specific touch, but I think it’s working pretty well so far. Characters have come and gone, some protagonist development, and I think the writing I’ve done mostly continuously over the past four years has helped me come into my own as a cunning linguist (har har, couldn’t resist). It’s that 10,000-hour rule, isn’t it… work that long on something, and you become an “expert”. I don’t know where I am on the numbered scale, but it’s definitely reached four digits by now. (Even if the whole thing is kind of baseless – check this article for one writer’s take on why.)

One thing those “experts” – the legitimate ones – don’t say about the process is that, even if you’ve logged a thousand-plus hours like I have, if you’re taking something seriously, it’s still too damn easy to feel like you have no idea what the hell you’re doing. If you take a process seriously, writing or painting or music or whatever, there’s still the unknown factor from every project being different. There’s a better thought out there to take hold of: you never really know how to, in my case, write a novel, you only learn how to finish writing the one you’re on.

So I only hope for one thing from this long-term project: I would like it to be read. That’s all. I want it good enough to warrant a read-through, maybe twice (a few years apart of course, not back-to-back or anything crazy). I want it worthy of being on either a digital or physical shelf, at least as far as Ayn Rand or the novelization of Snakes on a Plane (which, yes, it exists, and it’s just as bad as you might think). That’s as close as I can get to a breakthrough on how this story will end up, especially when feeling sick as I do now and having to gather up enough energy to simply type out a few words about feeling lost in a dimension-shifting parking lot. Though hell, maybe THAT will be a story somewhere down the line. I know there’s (almost) always a new story worth writing.

May you stand tall and find your drive, my friends.