The magic ink is out-of-stock


Sometimes our dreams offer a lot more than mere rehashing of a day’s events, and give us valuable clues to what is going on deep in our unconscious. The following dream may well be of interest:

I dreamed I had gone to an expensive and swish sort of hotel for some sort of conference. One of the first things I managed to do was lose the key to my room; one of those, “I’m sure I put it in my handbag” moments of frantic rummaging around, until it seemed unimportant so I went through to the main conference room. It was like the vast dining rooms you see in Oxford and Cambridge colleges and it was filled with tables laid out with all sorts of wares for writing, from marvellous machines, exquisite journals and notebooks, pens of a thousand thousand kinds from the usual Bic biros to fabulously expensive Mont Blancs, and quills and dipping pens of many types. I knew I had come to find the most exclusive inks in the world, also the most expensive, but as I searched table after table, it became clear I was too late and they’d sold out. I found a sheet of creamy white paper, the kind that is made by pulping cloth, and looks rather like parchment, and a quill pen, and started trying to write, but no matter how many times I dipped my pen in the ink, the page remained resolutely blank because the ink was not the magic ink I’d come to find.

Regular readers of this blog will know (and perhaps share) my obsession and love for stationery, and may well be familiar with my long struggle to overcome something that is generally referred to as Writer’s Block (but before anyone starts kindly suggesting exercises or websites or, God forbid, apps, the term is used very loosely and it’s something deeper and darker than what the term is usually applied to).

The dream speaks of my fear that I have somehow arrived too late at the table, despite the fact that as I went round table after table looking for the ink, I was almost the only person present. In terms of the writing/publishing industry, I wasn’t first at the feast but I jumped in reasonably early in the day, with the first (paperback only) edition of Strangers and Pilgrims being published early in 2010, and the first (and flawed) Kindle edition about a year or so later. But the magic of those early days is gone, heaven only knows where, if it ever truly existed at all. With it has gone my confidence of creating anything worthy of the fine paper I tried to write upon in my dream.

Anyway, I’m going to keep on trying. Confidence is a thing easy enough to fake; I’ve been doing it my entire life. I’ve always said that in certain ways the I that is conscious is not the writer of the stories, but the unconscious I is the real creatrix. When I draw upon the deep, dark, hidden levels, that’s when the stories start to flow, dipping into my own veins to use the inner ink.

14 thoughts on “The magic ink is out-of-stock

  1. Vivienne – It’s paradoxical that in recounting this dream about your lack of confidence in your writing, you demonstrate your talent for vivid description and your depth of understanding. Some of the things which make your writing so good!


  2. The vein’s ‘inner ink’ is perhaps what the absence of the celebrated ‘outer ink’ was re-directing you to use. The Oxbridge dining hall with its collection of prestigious tools ( all ‘sold out’) has been a recurrent theme in my dreams too! I think it was a salutary dream of comfort.


    • How odd that we should dream similar themed dreams; I can’t remember where you went, but I went to a solid Victorian red-brick (Liverpool) which had very modern (well, sixties) dining halls.


      • I had a series of dreams in which I was trying, single handedly to rebuild a monastic ruin of vast proportions (without scaffolding or tools or materials). The ruin remained unchanged until I found in a glass fronted niche in a wall a perfect model of the whole edifice, white, shiny embellished with each gargoyle, each parapet and a spire- a working model from which it would be reconstructed. Not difficult to interpret but not unlike your dream!


  3. Beautifully written–and the last line gives me chills. It’s true–sometimes writing feels like a real blood-letting–but I never thought of that image of dipping into one’s own veins. Writing is my “life’s blood” as well. Much to ponder! Thank you.


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