I’ve read that if you want to be a good conversationalist, you should never talk about your dreams. I’ve also read that as a general rule, writers should avoid using dream sequences in novels. Dreams, to the person who didn’t experience them, are generally considered boring.
So, going against all advice, I’m going to tell you about a dream I had. It happened a few weekends ago at the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in Nacogdoches, Texas--which also happened to be MLK weekend.
If you’re not familiar with Pulpwood Queens and you love books, you’re missing out. Founded by Kathy L. Murphy to promote books, authors and literacy, Pulpwood Queens now boasts over 750 book club chapters worldwide and an annual get-together every January in Nacogdoches featuring authors from all over the world, a tiara contest and a Great Big Hair Ball. An artist and visionary, Kathy also has a killer business sense (don’t let the dreamy headscarves and bohemian garb fool you). How else could she get best-selling authors like the late Pat Conroy, Fannie Flagg, Jamie Ford, Alice Hoffman, Lisa Wingate, to name a few, to Nacogdoches? And Simon and Schuster to send 40 boxes of galleys and books to give away to attendees (pack an extra suitcase!)?
I got to attend this year to talk about my historical novel, Wickwythe Hall. I had no idea what to expect, but I did not expect to make lifelong friends after just three days. I did not expect to laugh as hard as I did because so many authors (who knew?) can double as standup comedians. I did not expect to meet so many members of book clubs who come to this event year after year after year. I did not expect to get comfortable wearing a tiara so that I almost forgot I had it on. I did not expect to become a member of a tribe. I did not expect to be inspired to be a better writer and a better reader and even a better person.
But all of that happened.
At Girlfriend Weekend, authors shared their stories, their advice, their struggles, and their successes. We laughed, we cried. There were what I used to call “Oprah Moments” that I will now call “Pulpwood Moments.” Do you remember those old rock tumblers that you could get at Toys-R-Us and you might have coveted, as I did, when you were a kid? The ones that claim to turn rough rocks into semi-precious gems? That’s what Girlfriend Weekend felt like. I went in a rough, unpolished stone, was spun around in a rock tumbler, and came out feeling like a semi-precious gem. Maybe it was all those tiaras…
Which leads me to the dream. Friday night, after we authors dressed in our best hippie outfits and served dinner to the readers, I literally dropped like a (rough) rock into bed in my fringe vest and love beads and fell fast asleep. And that night, I had a dream I’ve never had before, a very vivid dream, about the moon. It was way up there in the night sky, all warm and white and glowing. And it was shaped like a heart.
I usually have dreams where I’m driving a car I can’t control. The steering wheel won’t steer, the brakes don’t work and I’m veering all over the place, on the brink of disaster-- the typical dreams of a person who feels like their life is out of control. But Saturday morning, I woke with a sense of serenity I don’t usually have, of peace, and well-being.
A deep-thinking friend pointed out that the moon is a symbol of reflection as well as of the soul, which makes perfect sense. That heart-shaped moon was a reflection of the spirit of the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend, the joy, the tears, the Pulpwood Moments, the tribe. As another author put it after Girlfriend Weekend 2018 came to close, “my soul needed this.” So did mine.