I was reading an essay from the book Why I’m Like This by Cynthia Kaplan (wonderful book, by the way. Go thou and read likewise), in which she mentions that once you have been a waitress you will forever after suffer waitress dreams. Oh, so very true.
I’ve been both a cocktail waitress and a waitress in an Italian/seafood restaurant. The server gig is probably the best hourly wage you’ll ever make, legally and without an education. But there are the dreams.
I still dream that I’m working at the bar, and I have a ridiculously large tray full of mixed drinks. I’m scrambling to put all the right garnishes in (“Does this take a flag? A cherry? An olive?”), and shooting desperate looks around the bar, trying to locate all the people who ordered these drinks. Finally I hoist the huge tray to my shoulder. It teeters for a breathtaking moment…and I steady it…and step off…and realize I’m naked.
Or I’m working at the restaurant, and I’ve been given a party of one hundred and six people. Just one mammoth table stretching out as far as the eye can see, filled with hungry patrons. I take a deep breath, and start taking orders. I’m working my way down, carefully writing down what they want. People are shouting at me from across the table, adding and subtracting things from their orders. I’m nodding and scribbling furiously, until I get to person #103. And realize my pen has been out of ink the entire time.
When Tre was born I graduated to mom dreams, like the one where I realized that I had forgotten to feed the baby for three days. Or the one where I left him in the cart at Wal-Mart, and didn't realize it until I had already gone to bed.
My point (yes, I have one) is that the other night I woke up, sweating from a writer’s dream. I dreamt I had sent out 47 queries and had inadvertently left a really raunchy phrase as the salutation in each. When I had finally regained my wits and calmed my panicked heart I had to laugh. A WRITER’S dream? Who exactly do I think I am? As though I’m somehow unqualified to sweat over the details “real” writers sweat over. I’ve sent out query letters. Hopefully none with salutations alluding to the editor’s parentage, but it was anxiety producing enough. And yet…a WRITER’S dream?
This is a theme I hear a lot among the writers I know. When do we cross that line, take the title of “Writer”? What level of success legitimizes this thing we do? I have right here, next to me, a contract that I need to sign and send back so this lovely person can put my essay in her book. I’m getting paid and everything. Am I now a “Writer”? I’m not sure that’s enough. I have a little sign, hidden away in my desk drawer, that reads “Do Not Disturb. Writer At Work. I can't bring myself to use it.
But as though a writer’s dream weren’t enough to make me faintly embarrassed, I just read all those comments from my last post. My goodness. I’m blushing here, people. And from writers such as yourselves…I’m floored.
Now, I’ve been told I need to learn to take a compliment properly, so let me say thank you. My goodness. Thanks.
And I guess I’d better get working here. Fortunately, I’ve got a sign...