I have a pesky recurring nightmare.
I’m at a book premiere. It’s very much like a movie premiere, with a red carpet, bleachers full of flashing cameras, a huge indoor theater with posh seats and dimmed lights. I enter the theater to a million flashes and make my way to the front row of the theater, right below the stage. I’m a guest of honor because one of my students published a book.
The theater fills. The room quiets as a pretty young woman approaches the podium. She introduces my student, and he walks onstage. He gives a lovely speech where he thanks me for inspiring him to be a writer and giving him the drive and focus he needed to complete a work of fiction.
Then, he lifts the book from the podium and holds it up for the audience to see. This is the first time I’ve seen it. The title on the cover is the title of my first fantasy novel. He cracks a joke about the price at the merchandise table outside, if people want to read along. Then, he starts to read.
He’s reading my book.
An elf lays in wait, watching a wedding procession, waiting for the right moment to assassinate the bride.
The names are the same. The places are the same. The details are the same. He’s added shittier dialogue, but it’s my story. Mine. MINE.
In the dream, I’m drowning. I’m stuck in the Sunken Place from Get Out.
I’m screaming at my student, but no one can hear me. A man beside me pats my hand and tells me it’s so lovely to see a nice young man thinking of his teacher. I want to stand, to make a scene, but I’m glued to my seat.
I wake dripping in sweat, tucked into fetal position.
I’m sure I’m not alone. While we know how hard it is for someone to make a living by stealing someone else’s manuscripts (if it were easy, we’d be making it just fine on our own!), it’s always at the back of one’s mind when sharing creations with someone else. In our genre, we have one or two scandals a year of someone taking het fiction and rewriting it into gay romance, or worse, outright stealing M/M romance, renaming characters, changing a few words in each paragraph, and calling it new.
Those imposters cause my nightmares, but they won’t stop me from writing,. They won’t prevent me from sharing what I write.
What fears cause your nightmares?