Next week, when I facilitate workshops at the Hunt Country Writers’ Retreat in Virginia, I will finally get to meet Ken Kraus for the first time. Ken is a New Jersey-based writer of speculative fiction, and while I’ve worked with him on and off for years as his editor and writing coach, we’ve never met face to face. Some years back Ken sent me this amazing e-mail about a dream he had, which at the time I shared with my writing community. I’d like to share that story with you. Happy Friday the 13th!
As many of you know, I’m not easy on my writers. I’ve often said that when you cast your lot with me, I become your best friend and your worst nightmare. So imagine how it must’ve felt to learn that I literally turned into the latter for one of my people!
Here’s the deal: I’ve spent the past six months working with an east coast writer named Ken on a promising science fiction novel, the first of a proposed series. Imagine my surprise at receiving the following note, which Ken was kind enough to let me share:
“What is my subconscious doing cooking up the dream I had last night? I kid you not. I awoke at 3 a.m. for a few moments and went back to sleep. Next thing I know I turn in bed and there YOU are, in nice long pajamas lying comfortably on the other side of my wife (who sleeps in the middle). I ask: Mike, how did you get here unannounced? Well, you say in the dark, you were coming to the east coast anyway for a visit and thought you’d drop in on an important student. I close my eyes and tell myself this is either a dream or I’ll deal with you in the morning, but moments later I get a tap on my shoulder.
“Now you’re standing at attention next to my side of the bed with a big dopey smile on your face. ‘No more sleeping, Ken. Time to get up and have a working session.’ Oh shit, I mutter. But I don’t want my wife disturbed so I lead us into the next room. There you have an easel set up and a marker. A few of your other students (faceless) are in the room ready for your lecture, the subject of which is my book.
“I ask you again what you mean by dropping in on me like this. You hang your head and give some heartfelt story about following your visions, which led you to my bedroom, and won’t I please take advantage of your presence and learn from you in person. Fine, I say, let’s get on with it. Then you launch into some wacky lecture about what [my character] really needs to fill it out are a few catchy songs. You suggest two ditties from the Elizabethan period and even perform one for us. Thank heaven I can’t recall the words, but you held a tune pretty well. At that point I woke up. It was 3:48 a.m.
“I did get back to sleep without further dreams that I recalled.”
Ken wrote me a day or so later with the following addendum:
“As for my personal experience with you, maybe having an editor has brought some pressure but working with you personally has been mostly a pleasure, even when we disagree. In the dream I think you represented this overall pressure in human form, and even in my dream world, you were still upbeat and encouraging, if that’s possible at 3 a.m. Oh yeah, and I forgot to relate that while singing the Elizabethan ditty, you had put on a Groucho Marx-style nightcap in bright blue, one of those two-foot-long saggy affairs with the tassel on the end.”
The oddest thing about all of this? I couldn’t carry a tune if you put one in a shopping bag! Thanks, Ken. You made my month!