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Wow. We’re almost out of July, and until today I’ve posted only one entry here this whole month. I won’t make excuses. Ok, a few: I was traveling the first week of the month, and came back only to have extensive oral surgery a couple of days later. I had two teeth pulled, two bone grafts done on the sockets, and implant posts placed where two of my other teeth had previously gone missing, one of them in the early 1990s. I was on heavy-duty painkillers for a couple of days, during which time I mostly read books that didn’t require a lot of brain cells. Writing was just not on the menu.

Nor was eating. For the first five or six days I subsisted on Glucerna, cottage cheese, and scrambled eggs. Eating was unpleasant. I lost five pounds. Eating is still tricky (and not entirely pleasant) because I have gaps (with stitches) on both sides of my mouth, so chewing on just one side isn’t an option. Chewing with my front teeth works to some extent, although I feel like a hamster when I do it. I haven’t eaten this much cottage cheese since, well, never.

This has made me grouchy. I wrote a rant for Contra here a few days ago that was so grouchy I’m still not entirely sure I’m going to post it. Let me think on that a little.

I began to suspect I was coming back to life when I got another thousand words down on Dreamhealer. It was supposed to be a short novel. True to my pattern, it’s getting more complex all the time, and I seriously doubt I’ll be able to pull it off in 50,000 words. I’ve already got 16,000 words down, and am just now getting out of second gear.

Dreamhealer is a very recent idea, and I haven’t said a lot about it. Here’s the elevator pitch:

A lucid dreamer discovers he can enter and heal the nightmares of others, and declares war on the mysterious creatures living in the collective unconscious that create nightmares and then feast on the terror that they invoke.

My back-cover hook is this:

Meet Larry. He’s your worst nightmare’s worst nightmare.

It’s a bit of a departure for me. It’s got nerds, PDP-8s, dogs, romance, programmable thought-forms, and some very weird dream footage. Oh, and something else: Julian Jaynes’ theory of bicameral psychology. I mentioned this in my May 10, 2017 entry about berserk Marian apparitions. Back in May I hadn’t re-read Jaynes’ book yet, and a lot of what I’ve done in the last two weeks has been devouring as much of Jaynes’ thought as I can manage. His book has hands-down the longest title of any in my library: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. He’s not a dazzling writer, and given my generally foul mood, I managed to slog through no more than a chapter a day. There is an interesting (and far better written) gloss on Jaynes’ theory in the book The Dark Side of God by Douglas Lockhart, which I reread after finishing Jaynes. Quite honestly, I don’t recommend the book on its own merits, but Lockhart had some useful insights on bicameral thought and the origins of religion.

One of my friends asked me the other day: “Whyinhell aren’t you writing the sequel to The Cunning Blood?” Good question, especially since I got the idea for The Cunning Blood (and the whole Gaeans Saga, including the Drumlins stories) almost exactly twenty years ago, in mid-July 1997. The easy answer is that I’ve never written a sequel and am not entirely sure how to go about it. I’ve got some characters (including an AI Oscar Wilde) some tech gimmicks, a few action scenes, but no plot to speak of. I do have a prolog for the story, which I published here some time back.

Honestly, guys, when I finish Dreamhealer, I’m going to finally take a good run at The Molten Flesh. Really. Cross my heart and hope to have more damned teeth pulled, which right about now strikes me as worse than dying.


  1. Alex says:

    Should that be “hope to have *no* more teeth pulled”?

    1. No. It was a play on that silly kid-oath that I heard a lot in grade school back in the late 50s and early 60s: “Cross my heart and hope to die.” In other words, I’m telling the truth, and if I lie I hope to die. This mouthwork has been a truly miserable business.

  2. TRX says:

    > Meet Larry. He’s your worst nightmare’s worst nightmare.

    I’d read that!

    1. Cool. Maybe I can tap you as a beta reader when the whole thing’s done, whenever that turns out to be. (I’m significantly behind schedule.)

  3. Mithral says:

    How about “He’s the worst nightmare of your worst nightmare.” Eh, six to one …

    I would suggest retaining a competent media agent, when the time comes. Sounds like this one might have movie potential. Practice some high concept pitches as well, for example “Inception meets The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” (Not quite right, but “Inception meets the collected works of Carl Jung” is probably not suit-friendly.”)

    For those who haven’t had the work done, a tooth bone graft involves packing the socket with powdered bone then covering it with a membrane which is stitched into place with dissolvable suture, followed up with massive amounts of antibiotics for the next two weeks. The object is to make a better base in the jaw for the implant post. The entire process, from extraction to screwing in the new tooth, can take up to a year. The worst part for me was the little suture strings hanging down that I couldn’t tug at and which refused to dissolve (yuck), and the after-effects of the antibiotics. Ain’t enough yogurt in the world to fix what happens to your gut. Worth it, though, in the long run.

    Heal well.

    1. I was given antibiotics for only seven days (X3; 21 capsules) and what gut trouble I had was minor. Yogurt certainly does help. 12 days out and the stitches have dissolved. I’ve used my new USB microscope to look at both grafted sockets and they’re closing up nicely. I can see the little grains of bone down at the bottom of one of them. That tooth had actually split in half below the crown at some point (we don’t know when) and had become infected, so there was some additional work in cleaning out the socket.

      Yukky stuff, for the most part, but I inherited my mother’s bad teeth, and now at 65 it’s only what I should pretty much have expected.

    2. As for agents, I have a media agent if I need one, and he’s happy to wait until I actually get some interest from the film industry, which to be honest I don’t expect. I’ll have to look up “Inception,” but Walter Mitty is right on. Larry is an awkward middle-aged PDP-8 expert in a dead-end job, but at night he dives into nightmares and fixes them, sometimes beating the snot out of the little monsters that create them–and in the process training the dreamers to be lucid themselves. Without quite knowing what he’s doing, he creates an army of empowered lucid dreamers like himself, just as the Boss Nightmare gets sick of his meddling and strikes back.

      1. Mithral says:

        Hmmm. Inception isn’t currently available through Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Redbox, but you might be able to pick up an inexpensive DVD. Maybe your local library has a copy you might check out.

        I think what you’ve described is one of your most potentially visual efforts to date. Maybe after the novel, you could go the graphic novel route, if you can hook up with an appropriate illustrator. Just a thought.

  4. Tom Hanlin says:

    Julian Jaynes is fun, yes? Though his writing style is a bit bricklike.

    I lucid-dream. I mostly leave it turned off, these days, but nightmares can’t get a grip.

    1. It’s a good book if you like speculation on the human mind, which I do. And I finally have a storyline that makes use of it.

      I’ve had one lucid dream in my life. It was shortly after my famous bichon Mr. Byte died. I dreamed I was in our bedroom, and Mr. Byte came ambling out of the walk-in closet. I thought, “Well, Mr. Byte is dead, so this must be a dream.” That was in 1995, and I don’t remember any more than that.

      I’m a poor sleeper, so I’m not going to try any of the exercises I see in books on lucid dreaming. On the other hand, it’s making for a peculiar but interesting story.

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