When I was in college in Boston in the late sixties back in the day of single sex institutions, I had a boyfriend who went to an all male school about an hour away by public transportation from my all female college. He didn’t have a car and would take the T to pick me up for our Saturday night dates. He always had a book with him. I look back remembering how I was puzzled by his need to have something to read during the ride. Even though I was always an avid reader, reading a book on this long stretch of free time seemed such a waste of good daydreaming space.
Granted, he was a more ambitious and conscientious student than I was and I was still in my party-girl mode. My academic ambition did not kick in for another 6 or 7 years. But even so, he wasn’t reading assigned books. He was reading from a list of great books that one of his professors gave him for his own personal development. I actually got that list and started reading those books too. But that was later. In those days, during college, I was still riding the train daydreaming—something I only do now when I can’t read or look at my phone and check my messages or Facebook or if I wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep.
As I said, my academic persona did not kick in until law school and my writing identity was even later—when I was 32 and pregnant with my first child. But in hindsight, that ability to daydream, to occupy myself for hours at a time thinking of stories and plot scenarios, was probably the beginning of my becoming a writer.
My daydream scenarios always started with a heroine, a thinner, prettier and less self-conscious version of me. They would take place some time in the future when school was done and I was on my own. There usually was an apartment—often an artist’s garret or studio in New York City. Of course there was also a hero and some sort of what I know now is a “meet cute” beginning.
But these daydreams also had extensive dialogue. I was bashful then and had trouble talking to people until I knew them well. In my daydreams my heroine was always having great conversations and they weren’t just to the hero. She was confident and articulate and would talk to everybody including any impressive or intimidating person that I knew or wanted to know.
I have wondered over the years particularly as I’ve met other writers and discovered how much we have in common whether some of them were also daydreamers and if their daydreams were also previews for the books they would eventually write.