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Inadequacy Dream: Creative Frustration

The test assignment, Nicholas, was to write a story sparked by the sight of  a blob of goopy clay on a piece of paper.  In my dream, of creative frustration, I was late for the test but then began my story brilliantly:

Miss Coco Luna loved to go to Raleigh to shop. She ate lunch at the cafeteria. She wore white gloves and a hat.

test taking dream

From there, everything in the writing of the story went wrong:

*Twice my manuscript disappeared when I wasn’t looking

*My pen ran out of ink and I couldn’t find clean paper

*Worst of all, a woman sitting next to me decided to use the name Coco Luna in her story and asked me how to spell “assassinate.”

test taking inadequacy dream

Her using my Coco’s name infuriated me. I decided to tell on her. I complained to the test administrator, who was once my literary agent (Elaine Markson, who sold Sister India for me and this week died at 87.) Elaine said she’d take care of it.

*When I went back to writing, my manuscript was wet and disintegrating. Time was running out, but no one knew exactly when. A lot of people had finished and left already.

Waking Up To Calm

I was surprised to have this dream, because I’m not conscious of feeling creative frustration at all. Yes, my novel-in-progress is taking forever. But I’m used to that; I went through this with each of my previous novels. And I think my revisions on this one are going well.

So maybe I’m stifling impatience and frustration? Hiding it from myself? If so, I’ll keep on hiding it–there’s no point in messing up my my daytime peace of mind.

I do know I’m aware of “time running out and nobody knows when.”

Even so, I don’t really believe it’s going to run out and I’m sailing along happily most of the time.

Dreams of Old

I used to have inadequacy test-taking dreams a lot. They stopped almost entirely when I was thirty-eight. I wrote about that turning point before.

Not sure what to make of such a convoluted struggle-and-frustration dream turning up now.

Although, I do have one association. There’s another book in the wings that I’ve been working on now and then for years: a biography of an artist/mystic, Elisabeth Chant. She spent some time in a mental hospital and she was widely known as Miss Chant.  Perhaps she’s my trigger for the dreamworld Miss Coco Luna.

And of course the other waking life trigger: while I don’t wear white gloves and a hat, I’m a devoted diner at the Raleigh K&W cafeteria.

test taking dream inadequacy

So maybe it all makes sense one way and another.

I may find that I need to dash off some kind of quick story about Miss Coco Luna.  I really am enchanted by that name: Coco, which sounds both spicy and cosy, Luna suggesting both craziness and moonlight. I’d like to at least get to the fourth sentence and see what’s there.

Do you ever have this kind of dream? Does anyone not have at least a few?

Dreamily yours,








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  • June 6, 2018 at 8:55 pm Reply

    I don’t usually recall my night dreams, nor remember them much as the day passes by. In my therapy work I haven’t usually found processing client dreams especially useful, tho a few times they’ve been startlingly productive. Dream interpretation seems pretty uncertain and arbitrary to me.

    • Peggy Payne
      June 6, 2018 at 9:06 pm Reply

      It’s easy to pick up themes, though. They feel like a mash-up to me, Bob, a collage of floating stuff. Plus, they’re stories, and I do like stories.

  • Kenju
    June 6, 2018 at 9:12 pm Reply

    I want to read about Miss Coco Luna, who eats at one of my favorite places!

    I seldom remember dreams; but do recall having quite a few in college, where I was at the blackboard with no idea what to do and no pants on. Luckily, that never happened in reality.

    • Peggy Payne
      June 6, 2018 at 9:51 pm Reply

      That’s a double whammy, Kenju, not knowing what to write and no pants, either! But you seemed to get past it very well.

  • Bob Braxton
    June 7, 2018 at 1:10 am Reply

    I do

    • Peggy Payne
      June 7, 2018 at 1:19 am Reply

      I have an idea most of us do or have, Bob.

  • R L Jackson
    June 9, 2018 at 12:17 am Reply

    Last nt, I dreamed I was in the grocery store, left my purse in the cart, and walked a few steps down the aisle, forgetting the purse. When I came back, there was a cash register drawer sitting on top of the purse, empty. My purse was thoroughly looted, the wallet and cell phone gone, as well as my keys and empty ck books, plus new ck book. I then awakened and thanked God it was a dream. It was a typical anxiety dream, a new one I’d never had, which is rare for me, and it was one of those dreams which is so rare because it seemed so real, and inside it, I had no tipoffs that it was a dream. Many times I awake, because something is off, and I know I’m in a dream.

    • Peggy Payne
      June 9, 2018 at 1:20 am Reply

      Sounds very unpleasant, but nice to wake up to a different situation. I wish I had such tip-offs–I hear they’re the key to lucid dreaming, which I still haven’t managed.

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