I think writers probably have different nightmares than some other professions. I know that when I used to act on the stage, I had the classic one in which I'd been an understudy to a major role and all of a sudden I have to perform and I know NONE OF THE LINES.
That dream has mostly faded. Now-a-days, I have a reoccurring dream/nightmare where I'm arriving at a science fiction convention bright and early on a Saturday morning, I make my leisurely way to registration and... discover I've missed half of the panels I was supposed to be on.
After last night, I suspect I'm going to have a brand new writing-related nightmare: missing a reading.
So, yeah, I was sitting on my comfy chair doing a whole lot of nothing when the phone rings. Shawn answers it. I hear, "This is she. ... Oh my god!" I sit up, because I think, "Oh, crap, who died?!" Shawn's eyes are wide and she looks at me, "Lyda! You were supposed to be at a reading at Dreamhaven!" I run to the phone, and, sure enough, it's Eric Heideman who coordinates the Speculations Reading series wondering where the heck I am. I look at the time: it's 6:35 pm (the reading started at 6:30) and, after a thousand apologies and several "how the hell did I forget?"s, I say, "On my way!" At least he tells me, I'm not the only one who forgot--at the present time the only people in the store were Greg (Dreamhaven's owner) and himself.
Knowing there wasn't even a small crowd waiting meant to didn't kill anyone as I sped across town.
Luckily, Dreamhaven, though it's in another city (Minneapolis), is no more than fifteen minutes away. I made it in 20, because (of course) not only did I hit every single traffic light, but the light rail train crossed at 38th and I had to wait.
On my panicked drive I called fellow Wyrdsmith, Naomi Kritzer because I really needed to share my horror with someone who would understand. Luckily, Naomi thought it was hilarious (just what I needed, honestly,) and I was able to tell her that what I wished was for that moment in "Practical Magic" where Sandra Bullock's character is able to "activate the phone tree!" People seem to be able to organize flash mobs on a moment's notice, but could I get anyone to show up at Dreamhaven for me?
In the end it was me, Eric, and one actual audience member. I really tried to wheedle my way out of reading anything, but Eric insisted I read SOMETHING. He'd found a copy of a Tales of the UnAnticipated that I had a short story in, so I ended up reading the entire "Van Buylen Effect" (my time-travel couch story.) Since I was mostly reading for myself, I spent the time thinking, "Huh, that was a pretty good story." I don't write a lot of short stories because I tend to find them difficult--condensing a whole beginning, middle and end and all the other things you need like an emotional arc and all that into 10,000 words or less is a very daunting prospect for me. So, I was surprised I'd managed to pull it off pretty well. This story was recently rejected for a time-travel anthology (the editors were specifically looking for reprints). I'd been feeling like maybe it wasn't as strong a story as I remembered, but now I think, well, actually it was all right.
Anyway, afterwards, the three of us went out for drinks at Merlin's Rest. It was quiz night at the pub, so we entertained ourselves by trying to answer the questions, even though we weren't playing along. I hadn't been in Merlin's Rest before really, and I tasted a bit of the fish and chips Eric ordered. I have to say, I'll be back there. Shawn and I have been looking for a decent fish and chips place since Molly Quinn's closed.
The night ended up being salvaged but OH MY GOD WHAT A NIGHTMARE.
At least I didn't show up naked.