We all love dreams; we all have dreams. Not long ago, while walking on Amazon Street, in search for something new to add to my life, I was surrounded by a gang, all dressed in very camp, very flash clothes. They were loud. They were very forward. I had to stop and ask them what they wanted…
They were selling dreams. Not just any dream. But wet dreams, dreams of love and fantastical dreams. So, I bought a few. I bought a wet dream, and I found out that it ended in the rubbish bin together with packages and tissues (not provided). I bought a dream of love: I felt short changed. Why? Because that was my dream that had been sold to me. There was nothing new that that dream added to my shelf of dreams. Ashamed to give it to a charity, it is now gathering dust in the garret. I then bought a fantastical dream and I found myself in that dream, but not as the dreamer, but as the dreamed about, and not just, but I was less than me, I had lost my identity and what is more, I lost my status as a human being. In fact, I was the alien, I was dead, I was evil… I was a vampire.
Then, I went back to my youth. I started thinking about why I read… I started thinking about what I want from a book. What I want a book to give me, not what I want to give a book. I already know what I give a book: my time, my attention and my money. What should the book give me in return? Are dreams enough to justify my time, my attention and my money? I thought about it all night and the answer was a resounding ‘Yes!’ So what had gone wrong? Why did I feel that I had been shortchanged? Simple: if a book sells me a new dream, I gain something, I walk away from the book with new pictures, new images, new sounds, new feelings. But if a book sells me my dream back to me…then I have paid for something I already have. That was a boom I should have written, not read. So why did I buy it?
In the modern world, we love to be flattered. It doesn’t matter where the flattering comes from. How many times have you bought a pair of shoes because the shop assistant told you, that they are ‘really you‘. But who’s the shop assistant to say who I am? How nay times have you then gone back home and realised that you were wearing a pair almost identical to the ones you had just bought?
The gang saw me, they worked out that I was gay, put on masks and clothes that would identify them as gay friendly, and sold my own dreams back to me… I felt short changed.
Writers must give us their dreams, not sell us back our own. But we, as readers, need to smarten up and stop falling for flattery, stop looking for things we already have, and stop trusting the loudest and most flashy sellers, and check what they really have to sell us.