Subtle Nightmares

There are some obvious nightmares: dreams where you’re chased by big monsters, or dreams where you wake up and someone is standing over you with a knife, or dreams where someone threatens to kill your puppy. For me, these dreams tend to be dark in tone and texture; they happen at night, and they’re often stripped of most of their colors, pulled down to a very basic color palette. (Those who say you can’t dream in color are simply wrong. I do dream in color, and sometimes color has been material to the unwinding of my dream.) You wake up from these dreams with a pounding heart, glad to be back in reality.

Then there are subtle nightmares. They start out like a regular dream: the full color spectrum. Nobody’s chasing me. Nobody’s threatening me or my loved ones. Instead, they start out so subtly normal that I think nothing of it. For instance, in one of my recurring subtle nightmares, I could be anywhere: walking through the town where I grew up, applying for a job, checking the mail. And then something happens: Maybe someone comes up to me and hands me a notice, or maybe it arrives in the mail, or maybe someone makes a phone call at the job where I’ve applied. For whatever reason, the nightmare part starts like this: “Well, Courtney, we just noticed that you never took the Public Health segment in high school. You’ll have to go back and finish it, or we’re going to rescind all your degrees.” And then, before I know what is happening, I’m being pushed back into high school, I’m turning seventeen again, I’m back among all those people, back when people cared more about the name on the jeans pocket than they did about what you might have to say…. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

I wake up, my heart pounding, glad to be back in reality where I desperately need to do laundry and I’ve still forgotten to pay that parking ticket, but by God, at least I don’t have to go back to high school. This is not very fun, as you can imagine. The subtle nightmares are in many ways more insidious, because they feel so much more real.

In any event, this is all by means of saying that in the last week or so, I’ve developed another subtle nightmare. And, yes, it will make you think I’m slightly neurotic as authors go, but hello. I should think you’d have figured that out by now. In any event, my agent, who is wonderful, has been sending me weekly sales reports gleaned from Bookscan. And those sales reports tell me how many copies of my book sold (although Bookscan is not complete, it is the only thing I have, and so I cling to it with irrational force) throughout the US. So far, the only reports I’ve gotten have been reports about the anthology–and I’ve been fairly blase about that in a sense, because it’s not one-hundred percent all the way mine. To be honest, most people bought it because it had the words “Mary Balogh” on the front, and I am totally cool with that.

But this… this one is all mine. And that makes it five hundred times scarier. In my subtle nightmare, I open my Bookscan report, and peer, frightened, at the number.

The number changes. Sometimes it is 6. Sometimes it is 7. It is never any greater than 8. And I say, “Wait. I bought every last mother-loving one of those copies!

So yes. That’s my current neurosis. I don’t see how authors back in the day survived, not knowing if anyone at all had purchased their book for months and months and months.

I sometimes think that these subtle nightmares are my subconscious’s way of making me feel good about reality by managing expectations. Yes, I may be behind at work; but hey, at least I don’t have to go back to high school! And yes, maybe I am getting far too angsty about meaningless numbers on Amazon–but at least more than 6 people will have bought my book (I hope–I actually will not see these magic numbers until, maybe, tomorrow, so there is one more evening of absolute neurotic panic).

In any event, if you bought my book, thank you for saving me from my worst neurosis. Thank you.

10 thoughts on “Subtle Nightmares

  1. I will be getting your book. Just need time to get to the book store with my Xmas certs. Take a deep breath….let it out, the book is good…
    twit edward60

  2. Hi Courtney. I’m still recovering from the Holidays and family visits, so I haven’t had a chance to buy your book yet, but I will. Been looking forward to reading it.

  3. I bought your book from Amazon and got it early. And I saw it on the new paperback display at Borders on Sunday, so hopefully you will have lots of sales!

  4. I went out to buy your book and the first bookstore I went to did not have it! The second one had multiple copies, though 🙂 I reviewed it on my website.

  5. Awe, poor Courtney. A few weeks ago I had a nightmare I wouldn’t graduate from high school. O_o [Which is kinda ridiculous, all things considered, but mostly because I was so arrogant then that would have been a joke, not something to be scared of.]

    Anyway – 😛 in your subtle nightmare you can kick that number up to -what, 12, at least based on the comments here. I bought a copy. Pinky swear. 😉

  6. One more purchase here!

    Bought the book at Target on the last day of 2009 (briefly considered moving the last two copies of your book on display to more prominent spots but realized the little tag with the title and price would be in the wrong place, so resisted!) and finished it before the weekend was over. Loved it so much!

    I got really sick on New Year’s Day, but this book was a bright spot in the last few days of my holiday (okay, that and the Buckeyes winning the Rose Bowl :))

  7. I hate those kinds of nightmares! Hope you don’t get them too often.

    I bought your book at Target too. Can’t wait to read it. Recently, on the Harl website (not sure if it’s still there or not), they had a cool banner on the home page with a crystal ball saying something like, Madame Esmerelda wants you to buy these books. How fun is that?


  8. Courtney, I waited for your book with bated breath–and wasn’t disappointed! Picked it up at Target, I think. Devoured it in 1 night. Way to go & keep them coming. You’re on my auto-buy list. xoxo

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