#ContactForm1 { display: none ! important; }

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Octopus Dreams and Other Omens

Pictured: Not an octopus.
 Back in college I had a reef tank, or rather WE had a reef tank, it was a joint project between me and my roommates and then later me and my husband (who is also a permanent sort of roommate). In our tiny two bedroom apartment on the east coast of Florida the couches pointed towards a reef tank. Guests would first give me a funny look, and then sit down, and then a few minutes later start screaming that a rock was moving, or something just waved at them. There were Christmas Tree worm and Xenia. Mandarin dragonets, a dragon wrasse, and a flame angel all came to live with us.

During our travels we've tried to set up the tank everywhere we go. I daydream about corals the way the cliched cheerleader in a the after-school comedy line up dreams about shoes and dating the quarterback. It isn't always possible to set the tank up, sometimes we're too far from a good supplier, sometimes we won't be in one place long enough to set up the tank.

Pictured: Still not an octopus.
Time is crucial for reefs. They are a hobby that requires patience. Before you even think of buying the fish you need to get the water ready, then layer in the sand and live rocks, the teeny tiny things living on the life rocks need time to grow and build a healthy population, then you might be able to add some corals, and then a tester fish or two, damsels are good but some people prefer chromis...  but you don't need the technical specs.

Right now there's a 55 gallon tank in my living room. We never set it up because half the equipment was broken in the move, and because starting a reef tank requires a significant monetary investment and the budget is tight, and because when we arrived we weren't sure how long we would be here.

Still, the other night I dreamed I was fish shopping. I was soooo excited! And even though I know how quickly you can overcrowd a 55 gallon tank I was buying fish up left and right. Pretty soon I had a cart full of plastic bags filled with swimming jewels. I packed them all in my car and drove home to my unprepared tank.

Pictured: OCTOPUS!!!!
This was nerve-wracking. In my dream I was wringing my hands and I could feel my blood pressure rising as I worried about how I was going to get everything done in time to keep my precious fish alive.

As the fish died one by one I woke up in a panic. Why had I been so stupid? I know better! I KNOW BETTER!It was a horrible feeling knowing I'd killed those wonderful creatures because I was in such a rush to have a reef tank.

Possibly the worst bit were the octopuses, three little baby octopuses that I had no business buying (even in a dream) because they don't belong in a tiny reef tank.  The vivid dream of them lying helpless and dying as time and oxygen ran out gutted me. Nothing should suffer like that!

As I grumbled my way out of bed, cursing my own dream stupidity, I had a moment of perfect clarity. My subconscious has finally found a way to communicate without using "return to high school" nightmares. I spent this week thinking about querying JANE DOE again. There's pitch contests and an agent posted a description on the #MSWL tumblr that seems a perfect fit for my manuscript. But it's not.

Because JANE isn't ready. In fact, I'm not sure JANE will be JANE much longer. Editorial feedback from various agents has led to some editing to make this book the book I really wanted, but either didn't have the patience or skill for the first time. I rushed into querying. I thought I was ready, and I was good enough, but not great. Better than average, but not flawless.

Worst of all is that the manuscript I originally queried last October isn't exactly what I wanted it to be. It's close, very close, but it's a Shadow of the true thing. Which means I can make my manuscript better, perfect it, and this time plan ahead so my manuscript doesn't die from over-eagerness the way the fish in my dreams did.

Patience is the best strategy in the long run.

No comments:

Post a Comment