Saturday, October 28, 2006

back by popular demand

i've decided to rerun some of my more popular posts. this one is BY FAR the most googled post. i get five to ten hits a day from people looking for information about breastfeeding a puppy. i'm going to rerun this with all the comments, which were too good to leave back in October.

recurring dreams and breastfeeding the puppy

They say recurring dreams are the ones you should really pay attention to. Your subconscious is trying to tell you something. So what's this one about my breastfeeding a puppy? About 30 years ago I read this hippy pregnancy book and there was a chapter on adoption and an interview with a woman who had adopted a baby. She claimed to have "nursed" the baby, and over a period of a couple of weeks she began lactating. IS THIS TRUE??? CAN THIS REALLY HAPPEN? DOES ANYBODY KNOW? Anyway, in my dream I recall this book, and when somebody gives me a scrawny little puppy I decide to try it. and pretty soon I'm lactating away.

What am I trying to work out with this breastfeeding gig? I'll bet I've had this dream at least a dozen times.

here is my analysis of this particular dream:

I'm a nurturer, and for quite a while I've been feeling dissatisfied with many aspects of my life. I've toyed with the idea of having a writers' retreat, and I've thought about not writing for a year in order to move and maybe during that time do some freelance editing. I like helping other writers, but my problem is that I don't think I have any milk. :D I'm not a teacher. I absolutely don't want to deconstruct books or analyze writing. No writing 101. But I do think I'm fairly good at looking at a ms and immediately seeing what's wrong or what is needed to give it a boost.

I was presented with the idea of renting the mansion in iowa that I was considering for a retreat, but that in itself is like an unformed plot -- but maybe an opportunity for growth and a way to bring something into my own life. But right now my income is 100% from my books. I don't know how to chase this other dream and also have income. i don't have the stamina or focus to do more than one thing at a time. Okay, so I don't know where I'm going with this. Just wanted to share my puppy dream. Please file under too much information.


Kel said...

I did see this one crime show...Law in order or Criminal Intent?...where a young girl began lactating during an interview. Everyone thought she was prego, but when tested she wasn't. She just believed it so much that her body started to believe it. Yeah, they had some scientific term for it, but can't remember now. As for the puppy dream...I have no idea. I can barely understand my own dreams! haha

Stephen Blackmoore said...

I had something long, drawn out and insightful, but it sort of fell apart and started rambling on and on and on, kind of like this sentence, but, you know, with more punctuation, and it started to make sense, but then it unraveled like a cheap sweater from Wal-Mart, those blue, cable-knit numbers that always snag on the doorknob as you're backing into the house with arms full of groceries and you stop halfway through before you get yanked off your feet and onto the floor only because you forgot to get the butter for that pasta dish you read about in Gourmet magazine, which is just as well because the dogs would probably end up gettting their noses into it, anyway so you keep going, hear this tremendous tearing noise and get flashbacks to the time at your Senior prom where your tux tore getting out of the limo, right in the crotch and, how the hell are you going to fix that at this time, and you're not too sure that your date really likes you, anyway, so you just know the evening's going to end badly, so you just say to hell with it, find a safety pin and down half a bottle off Goldschlagger because they haven't invented Xanax yet, which is just as well because that stuff just gives you dry mouth the next morning and... Wait, what was I saying again?

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Okay, that was probably more flippant than it needed to be. ;-) Hang on as I put on my goatee, spectacles and best Austrian accent.

One of the things I often wonder about for full time writers is if there's a point where the books become little more than a "chop wood, carry water" exercise for them.

Guy I know does at least 4 books a year under various pseudonyms, does ghost writing, conducts writer's retreats, hits the conference circuit. He is 100% working all the time. It's not that he isn't having fun, or doesn't get enjoyment out of his writing, or what he does to teach other writers, it's that he doesn't allow room in his life for much of anything else. I honestly don't know how he even managed to breathe.

Personally, I think it would be a tragedy if you took time off writing, but that's because I'm a selfish bastard who wants my PI fix. ;-) But do you feel that there are other parts of your life that you're neglecting? Is the writing enough to feed your soul?

I know squat about your life, and I certainly don't want to presume, but is there a way you could take the place in Iowa, focus on the writing for a while and do a writing retreat once a year? The prep time alone is enormous, and the amount of work, mental and emotional capital you'll spend ramping it up and making it happen is tremendous.

Or are there other things outside of that, that would nurture you better? Taking the puppy imagery (warm, cuddly, but certainly not human), maybe you're nurturing the wrong thing?

Are you looking to nurture others, or do you need to focus more on nurturing yourself? It's difficult to figure out what will actually make us happy, not least because we won't know until we're in the middle of it. Especially if it takes hard work and hoop jumping to make it happen.

As to running a retreat or helping new writers, I think the best feedback isn't about deconstructing writing. It's about seeing what does and doesn't work. It's about being supportive but honest. I think your insight would be wasted on a Writing 101 course.

Okay, I'll shut up now.

JT Ellison said...

Wow, Stephen, those are damn good insights.
Anne, I wish I had an answer for you too. I pay attention to dreams, though I think I often misinterpret what they're meant to tell me. You would be an amzing teacher, just reading your blog makes me feel smarter and more connected. But wow, what a reponsibilty. My mother always begs me to be a teacher, and I can't make her understand that I'm teaching myself and in no way, shape or form am I able to give those insights to others outside of the occasional A-ha moment on the blogs. All the writing teachers I ever had were so damn busy breaking me down and making sure I didn't surpass their skill that I'm a little biased agaisnt teachers. I don't know if you can actually teach writing anymore. Structure, yes, but that innate ability to tell a story? I don't know.
Gee, really helpful, huh? I know you'll figure out the best thing to do.

anne frasier said...

kel, i think that must be it. if i remember correctly the lactation was explained by a mind/body connection. the new mom had to strongly believe in her ability to produce milk -- that was really important. the power of the mind. pretty amazing.

anne frasier said...

stephen, i see cormac mccarthy has visited my blog once again! :D you are so good at that. does cormac still write those long, wonderful, one-sentence paragraphs? i've been hearing such great things about his new book. i'll have to find out.

and in your second comment post -- are you saying i should breastfeed myself? interesting.... i CAN do it. i CAN!!!

but seriously, you brought up something i hadn't even thought about -- and might really be the underlying content of the dream. maybe i do need to nurture myself. i've been on a treadmill for 7 years, and after that amount of time i know nothing is going to change, that this year no breathing room hasn't just been a fluke. the chop wood, carry water is a good comparision because it does become this loop that is never going to change unless it breaks. the writing itself has never felt that way, but everything else does. because of certain things i can't talk about here, i've written the equivalent of 3 books a year for the past several years. no breathing room. no room for anything but writing.

BUT the PI sequel is still happening as far as i know. it's the last book of my present contract.

anne frasier said...

jt, thanks so much. :) and i know what you mean about misinterpreting dreams. i used to belong to a dream-study group, and i often felt it was useless because it's so easy to go the wrong direction. but it was very interesting to see how something oblivious to the dreamer was often obvious to everyone else once the dream was shared.

and as far as writing goes, i really do feel the more i learn the less i know. and things become more zen all the time, so i get what you're saying about teaching it. i can look at something and say why it isn't working, but i can't and don't care to try to explain how to do it before the words are on the page.

Joni said...

The next PI better be on its way! When I know things are coming as part of a series I always wait until the whole thing is complete to even begin because I'm VERY impatient once the plot gets going. So the ending (or lack thereof) of PI was a surprise and I literally closed the book and bellowed, "That Anne Frasier!" Your other books tie things up so nicely. It's very gratifying. So, uh, finish up soon, will ya?

As a sidenote. I saw PI at my grocery store and smiled for you. There's not a lot of selection there, so I was happy you made the cut.

I don't know what to say about your puppy breastfeeding dream. I've given up on dream interpretation. Tori Amos has a picture of her breastfeeding a piglet in one of her album covers, though. Maybe it's more common than you think.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Maybe it's as simple as the idea that we women give of ourselves to nurture dogs.

anne frasier said...

joni, i'm so sorry about that!!! back in january of 2005 i tried to talk my publisher into releasing them close together. at that point, they didn't know if they wanted a sequel so there wasn't even any discussion. i can't imagine that people will want to wait for a year.

woot at spotting PI in the grocery store!!! i'm SHOCKED!! that's such good news!

belle and sebastian had a cover that featured a girl breastfeeding a tiger cub. are we all dreaming of breastfeeding animals??? come on, gals. confess!

anne frasier said...

sandra: LOL!

and some people can suck the life right out of you.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Yeah, you said it!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about the puppy dream. I do know that breastfeeding turns into an extreme sport once the baby gets teeth. And those puppies have razor sharp ones. Your dream self better stock up on those little round bandaids.

Time off and a chance to reorient yourself might be exactly what you need.

Christa M. Miller said...

Relactation is only partly psychological. Stimulating the nipples releases oxytocin and prolactin, so if an adoptive mother applies a breast pump several times a day for several weeks/months, she can lactate by the time baby arrives. That's a physical fact.

As for contemplating your own "nursing" abilities, remember that nursing provides more than just physical (Writing 101) nutrition - it's also emotional (giving a work a boost). Rather than calling it freelance editing, why not call it freelance critiquing? You could offer one in a contest and see how you like it.

It strikes me that there's something rather "apples and oranges" about your dream. Like maybe you're nurturing something that doesn't come naturally to you. Or something like that. I never pretended to be good at dream analysis. %)

Alex said...

This is the part where I say, "Thanks for the nightmares." :D

Jaye Wells said...

Maybe you're feeling the need to nurture now that your kids are older. Perhaps you should get a dog--just stick with Alpo.

anne frasier said...

jason, yeah all the way around!

christa, all right!! that's AMAZING!!!

and good idea about calling it freelance critiquing. that's hitting the target. and i think you might also be right about nurturing something that doesn't come naturally. very good observation! thank you. something for me to think about.

alex, this is where i say sweet dreams, and you're welcome. :D let me know what kind of animal it is. :D

anne frasier said...

jaye, i think my kids being grown is where a lot of this is coming from. and i have been around some really cute dogs lately.... but dogs are so needy. maybe THAT'S what the dream is telling me. don't get a dog! :D

bekbek said...

Wood-chopping is good exercise.

I never dream about breast-feeding (in either direction).

Dogs are stupid.

bekbek said...

Hope that helped.

stay_c said...

Anne--Being one of those newbie writers who would appreciate the type of workshop you're talking about, I feel like being self and saying yes! do it!

But, it does seem like you are searching for something more than just writing. Perhaps learning a new craft or some other creative endevour would help too. I taught myself to tat a few years ago. When editing and writing get to me, I pull out the thread and pattern books instead.

Otherwise, you've got some regular commentors. Maybe a virtual workshop on Yahoo groups to make some connections between people? Just a thought.

Jaye Wells said...

Okay, this is weird. Last night I had a dream you decided to get a dog and dedicated a post to me on your blog to thank me for the suggestion. At least I wasn't breastfeeding anything or anyone in it.

anne frasier said...

bekbek, thanks for the tip! :D back in high school i used to think the thoreau quote of wood warming you twice was pretty cool. now it just seems lame. i'm so jaded.

stay-c, i think people need a balance, and that's something lacking in my life right now. i've lost interest in everything i used to love, which is a sign of needing to recharge.

anne frasier said...

jaye: LOL! well, that could happen!! but i'm pretty sure a new dog won't be happening very soon. my geezer cat would be really pissed. but i'm disappointed there was no breastfeeding in the dream!! keep trying!!

anne frasier said...

okay, who just bought the mansion in iowa????????

i just got a call from the owner saying it sold. this after absolutely no interest in it for almost a year. i think we created some energy there.

Helen Brenna said...

Wow, this is a powder keg of a dream, Anne. Did you nurse your kids? I think you're view of it would probably say a lot about what the dream means.

Nursing was bittersweet for me, so I know if I had this dream, I'd be running from the pupies!

anne frasier said...

helen, yes i did nurse my kids. but i was, as we said on the farm, not a good milker. :D

Jaye Wells said...

Some ruiner bought the mansion?!? Damn it!

anne frasier said...

jaye, yes, can you believe it? the place went from this baby will be on the market for years to SOLD! well, it was supposed to be horribly haunted so i'm not even sure about renting a house where someone was driven mad and ended up killing herself in one of the rooms. sounds like a great place to visit. just visit.

Tami said...

Awww man. I can't believe someone bought the house. Maybe we gave it good karma! When the people move in you should knock on the door and see the kind of people who bought it!

Hmm, that dream is a little creepy. Nursing puppies? The greatest part is when I was reading the blog post and my boyfriend walked behind me and was like "Who in the world is blogging about breastfeeding puppies! that's creepy!" Very nice! It sounds like you need to rekindle the hobbies that you used to have that didn't include writing. Maybe take a class that is completely different (like a cooking class or an art class) to put yourself in a completely different environment. I just recently joined a hockey league for this very same reason (and I also needed to get back into shape after being lazy for the last few years.) It's really helped balance everything I do out.

Totally off subject, but I think we jinxed my luck from a few posts ago. My mom found the link to my blog on Sunday and has now asked tons of questions about writing. ::sigh:: just my luck.

anne frasier said...

tami, i was thinking i should haunt the house. :D but really, there are a lot of big cool houses in that town, so i'm sure something else interesting will come along. plus the timing simply wasn't right for me. i've got a book to finish and a house to sell before i make any other big decisions.

about your boyfriend's comment -- if i know i've creeped out one person today, then i can go to bed happy. :D

hockey! that's very cool!!! i do think i need some other creative outlet, but the problem is time. i need to find more time.

and i thought you might be on thin ice as far as your mom was concerned! haha! it's hard to keep a secret on the internet!!

Anonymous said...

Here's a smart answer to your question. Dreams are attempts by our unconscious to balance out what we experience in our conscious lives. Typical examples are people experiencing problems tied to low esteme and depression who have dreams of flying--then there are the people who go around aggressively encountering everyone they meet, and have recurrent dreams of people or monsters chasing them. It's all a matter of balancing you. If you take note of the dreams and realize that everything in your dream is a part of yourself, that you project onto your environment during conscious activity, you can actually start the process of taking back those projected parts of your psyche, and again achieve wholeness. Yea! By the same token, when you go without sleep for extended periods of time, your unconscious mind can't work to balance out the projection you are doing all the time--result, you start halucinating and going clinically nuts. Now, let's look back at what I've just said and you should plainly see that you are the puppy who needs nurturing and if you start plugging into and satisfying that need, your dreams about the nursing puppy will stop--become aware of and satisfy your need for nurturing. BE FOREWARNED: This may however, ease your tortured soul and lessen your art--hell, happiness is overrated anyway!

Sweet Dreams!
Benjamine Yarbrough
ben @

PS. I learned what I know about dreams from reading Fritz Perls Dreamwork seminars (humanistic psyschology work done in the late 60's)--good stuff. You may have read one of his poems "You do your thing and I'll do mine" if we find each other, its beautiful, (and then the part that is usually left off) and if not, it can't be helped."

anne frasier said...

benjamine -- thanks so much for the insightful comment!! i used to keep a dream journal, but haven't for years. in the past i've read some books on dream therapy, but nothing really in-depth. i found this part of your comment especially interesting and on target:

BE FOREWARNED: This may however, ease your tortured soul and lessen your art--hell, happiness is overrated anyway!

Anne McAllister said...

Good grief, I go away for two weeks and when I come back you're breast feeding puppies and whining about mansions in Iowa being sold? Who the hell is buying mansions in Iowa? What do they know that I don't?

And were you going to? When? Where?

Get a dog. They aren't really stupid. Gunnar understands everything I say. He understands more of what I tell him than I understand of what he tells me.

anne frasier said...

hehe! i was looking at a place in burlington. i tend to get excited when i go there and see the going price of restored mansions. :D

i'm not sure about the dog.... right now i just borrow them. i think i have one coming tomorrow.

Anne McAllister said...

oh, well, Burlington. Figures! Still, I think the dog would be a good idea!

Anonymous said...

Well, well, see this. A Japanese woman mothers a pet!

The idea of breastfeeding a puppy or kitten is weird. Not being a woman, I can only shudder at the idea. Won't the puppy or kitten bite?