Flights of Fancy

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Dreams and stress and throwing an artist's tantrum
marianndashwood
I hardly ever have bad dreams - only when I'm stressed out. Every once in a while I convince myself my dreams mean things, but there's a good chance they don't. 85% of my self says that bad dreams merely mean I'm stressed out and my brain is trying to make sense of it or act it out. Maybe 93%.

There's super terrible things going on in my family. And the way we find out about it is, my dad calls my brother, my brother calls me, and tells me to call my mom. My dad won't talk to my mom and my brother won't talk to my mom. My dad won't talk to me either, even when my brother gives him my number and tells him to. So information is fed from my dad to my brother and my brother to me and my brother is so mad he won't talk to my mom but he tells me to tell her what to do. I'm all distressed about it all.

In the midst of that, a couple weeks ago, I dreamed there was an earthquake and I went looking for my boyfriend and my roommate's boyfriend told me he had found him dead in his house. I then walked in and saw him dead though it looked like he was just asleep. This was totally distressing.

Then things got better for a while and then my brother called me again this week and talked to me again. And I went to bed that night and dreamed I got kidnapped with a bunch of other girls and they were making us work at this store in the mall but they'd keep one of us behind every day so they could kill her if the rest of us tried to escape or say anything.

Then the next day I talked to my mom again and dangit - my mom is the most adult person I know. She's also been through more crap than anyone should have to go through in one lifetime and she keeps going. She told me to tell my brother that my dad needed to work things out directly with her and he needed to answer her calls. She told me it wasn't our job to sort through our parents' 10 year old divorce and that it was OK for me to let go of it. Nevermind that me letting go means just one more burden that she has to pick up herself.

So then I felt a lot better, but it was poignant that my feeling better came with the realization of how hard everything is on my mother.

Then last night I dreamed that I got bitten by a rattlesnake. It was just on my finger, but I kept walking around doing work and homework and stuff and nobody thought that it was a big deal or that I needed to go to a doctor, but I was really worried. My finger started to turn blue. So I kept making a big deal about it but everyone kept telling me I would be fine. And then I was all guilty about whether I should trust my friends or my own worries.

Then today I heard back from the people who commissioned me to do some art for a book cover.

Let's see how quick I can make this story: they told me the content and that they wanted it to look like a 1930's pulp scifi novel. I painted it in Photoshop because I don't have any actual art supplies and can't afford them. Also, they're not paying me, but they did promise me royalties on the book sales.

I gave them a first draft. I didn't get any feedback. I asked for feedback and found out there had been a conversation going on that I wasn't being CCed on. Got the feedback. They wanted it, among other things, to look more painterly. I did a second draft and sent it to them a few weeks ago - the book is going to press this month. I didn't get any feedback.

Earlier this week, one of the guys emailed me and asked me to send him a picture of the cover art without any of the wording or layout. I did so. Last night he emails me with this: "I printed out your piece and had another lady paint on top of it so it would look painterly. This is really wonderful, aren't we all happy. I'm going to have another friend finish the layout of the spine and the back so you don't have to worry about anything else."

I answered back with "Um, sorry, but that actually makes me kind of angry. Why did I not get feedback? Why did you just do this behind my back?"

"Oh, you didn't know? I'm sorry. I didn't CC you on those emails I guess."

I called him out on it. "I'm pretty sure it wasn't just an oversight. I'm pretty sure this all happened behind my back - I can tell by the vague request for me to send the original artwork. You knew full well I didn't know what was going on."

Him: "You're right, I'm sorry. I misled you. It was close to printing time and I panicked. It's OK - we're going to give you credit. Tell me how you want to be credited."

So right now I feel like I got bit by the snake. And I feel like no one else thinks it's a big deal. I want to just tell them to kill my part in it - I certainly don't want them to grudgingly publish something they don't like. But the problem with that is the fact that it's going to press so soon and who else are they going to find to paint exactly what they wanted? For free? As a volunteer?

And I don't want them to publish something that's not my work - something they took and had someone else paint over - with my name all over it. I feel like that's insulting and condescending.

So I told them that they can use the altered artwork but I don't want my name on it anywhere. They said that's not a good option - they want to either work it out or kill the cover.

I am so mad. I know it's not good to be mad. I know it's good to be conciliatory. To me, the best way I can be conciliatory is to give them rights to use my artwork and alter it, but I don't want that out in the world with my name on it - it's an unfair representation of my work. If they went ahead and used my work unaltered that would be fair to me, but apparently it was so far from what they wanted that they're going to hate the finished product.

I don't know at this point whether I'm being petulant or assertive. I'm aware I'm  throwing a tantrum, but I feel pretty justified in it. And I don't like walking around with stress and anger, but I don't know what the right choice is in this situation.

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(((Annie))) Good to hear from you. Dreams mean something in the sense that they mean you are stressed. At least, that's what my sister the psychiatrist says. I tell her some really awful dream and she says "wow, you have a lot of anxiety." When we were little, we'd make up what happens next.

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