Yes, it came from a dream …

Experiment Manuscript

***Warning, contains small Spoilers for The Experiment of Dreams.***

In February, 2014, two major events transpired that changed my life and direction. The first, and most important, was the birth of my daughter. The second, was about two weeks after my little girl was born, when I published The Experiment of Dreams. 

For obvious reasons, that time in my life was chaotic. Leading up to my daughter’s birth, back when I had a bit more free time, I had written two manuscripts. The first one was titled, Chaos, and the second was titled Lucid. Chaos was my first book, begun when I was about twenty eight, but first conceived back when I was sixteen … it really took me a long time to get those words on the paper. When I finally took the plunge, and hammered out all 155,000 words, or about 550 pages, I sat back and read my masterpiece … and it stunk. It had not turned out the way that I wanted, not in the least. As I despaired about what to do, and the work that would be involved to transform the manuscript into something legible, I decided to take a more in-depth look into an idea that I had only just come up with. It was from a dream, or what I could remember from the dream. The only scenes that stuck in my memory was seeing a man, maybe mid-twenties, standing in a brick-walled apartment, looking at a painting hanging on the wall of a cabin in the woods. Although I can’t remember if there was any backstory in the dream, I did immediately feel this person’s emotions and life history. He was troubled, depressed, and in danger. The other fragment of the dream that I could remember was seeing a person wearing a trench coat enter the man’s apartment late at night, and approach the poor man while he was in the pits of insanity. Yes, some things changed from the dream to the paper. I could feel this sinister man’s intent, and his wanting, needing, to eliminate this person … only, when he approached the body, skinny as could be, the man was already dead. I saw flashes of what the man had hallucinated moments before he died, and they were beautiful. In his mind, he thought he was back with the lost love of his life, but in reality, he was slowly dying of dehydration  and starvation. He had gone completely mad. I began to wake up at this point, but made a conscious effort to remember what I could, and let my semi-conscious mind continue to add to the story. I saw two doctors at the door to the man’s apartment, talking to him about a secretive experiment. When I woke up, I jotted down some notes, and wrote out a few opening chapters longhand. I wasn’t sure yet if the story was going to be a short story, novella, or a novel, but I knew that I had something worth hanging on to. So, back to Chaos. I put it aside, and started playing around with Lucid. As the chapters began to unfold, and the characters came to life, it began to feel like I was not writing the pages at all, but rather, they were just coming to me, unfolding as they would. It was like watching a movie in my head, and it was awesome. The final result was a little different than the dream, but the depth of the characters remained the same. The other characters, not in the dream, came about as the story progressed.

When I finished Lucid and sent it out to be edited, I sat back down and gave Choas another shot. I didn’t look at my first manuscript, but rather started from scratch … and it was the most enjoyable experience of my life. I missed those characters more than I realized.

Flashforward, and the rough draft of Choas is done, and I’ve finished editing Lucid. My daughter is born, my life gets hectic, and I promise myself that I will no longer be working on two books at once (no, I don’t keep that promise). Lucid gets changed to The Experiment of Dreams, and I take a look at Amazon’s Kindle program. I’m just playing around with it to see how it works, and I click the next button … and it goes live. I didn’t realize that I had hit submit. I panic, but my wife calms me down, and urges me to keep the book live. At the time, I didn’t even have a cover, the book needed one last polish/proofread, and I had no idea what I was getting into. Quickly, I made a cover for the time being, and sent it out to be proofread. I knew that not many, or no one at all, would buy the book right away, since I had told absolutely no one other than my wife that I had even written a book, let alone two. It came as quite a shock to most people, especially my parents, who also didn’t know that I had been writing for some time, and had been published once (a really short poem-thingy) when I was nineteen.

At the time, it seemed to take a century, but in reality it only took a few weeks until I had a professionally made cover, and the book had been polished and formatted. Luckily, not many copies of that first edition went out, but unfortunately, a few did. My top review, although three stars and not a one star review, clearly talks about spelling errors, and there is no way that I can change it, even though the book is now complete. Live and learn. And learn I have, because I will never make those mistakes again.

Now, two years later, I have spent countless hours learning what it takes to be an independent author. Chaos has been renamed, The After War, and as of today (literally, an hour ago), it is done. After publishing two novels, I am finally about to publish my first. More on that to come, including the cover reveal and prelaunch date. It’s coming up, very soon.

Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading.

-Brandon Zenner

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