Dreams Half-Remembered

Dreaming and writing are strangely connected for me. I write  best in the mornings when I’ve woken up from a vivid dream, even if I’m not trying to capture the essence of the dream. I rarely try to capture the essence of a dream, actually. The emotion is so intense and surreal and personal that my efforts inevitably fail, but that moment when you mourn the realization that you don’t live in the dream world is very much what I hope to invoke in my readers.

I didn’t so much dream memorably last night as I do sometimes, but I went to sleep having just finished a fairly excellent post-apocalyptic sci fi. It left my mind dancing  with ideas and handed me a puzzle piece that I needed for my own post-apocalyptic novel…that piece that starts your mind singing and drives the writing forward. Until I find that piece, I always feel like I’m working uphill to build a mountain of dung. It’s the soul of the thing. No matter how carefully crafted a plot or how well-developed the characters, a story without soul isn’t worth reading…and I figured out what that missing soul piece was as I was drifting off contemplating the book I had just finished.

I woke up this morning, charged to get writing, which feels amazing after two or three weeks of feeling dead about the whole writing  thing because my brain has been utterly stressed out by the lack of a definitive answer about whether or not the bank is going to give us the mortgage on this house. (Reason number umpteen to avoid working for giant, asshat corporations: their salary verification processes for lenders suck.) We STILL don’t have an absolute, 100% “yes,” even though our loan officer is still saying we’re probably fine to close on Tuesday, so the stress is still there, but it’s like a breath of fresh air to find this soul-piece of a story to take  my mind elsewhere.

Anyway, I sat down at my computer to get to work and in the process of looking for the files for this story, which I haven’t touched in a while, I ended up going through a few old pieces I’ve either finished or started on. I came across one that took my breath away to leave me incredibly sad, not because it’s a staggering work of genius by any means, but because I got to the end and really wanted to know more. And I realized that I’m the only one who knows what’s supposed to happen next and I DON’T REMEMBER IT AT ALL. I don’t remember writing the beginning, and I don’t remember the general concept for the tale, so I’m left with this fairly intriguing beginning and no clear idea of what to do with it.

This is exactly what happens when you don’t keep on writing when you’ve got the soul of a project in your hand, so I’m going to chase after that story sprite and attempt to capture it before my mind wakes up all the way. And in the meantime, maybe I told someone about this story and maybe that someone reads my blog and remembers what the heck I was thinking about when I wrote this, so here’s the snippet that left  me wishing I remembered how it goes on…

A Shellhead’s Pearls (a working title I threw on there after reading it  this morning, so don’t think there are necessarily any clues in the title)


Dreams Be Dreams

Do you dream much? I do. My dreams are something of a standing joke between John and I. Whether it’s a function of my biology or my sleep schedule or some occult genetic gift (that was a joke, Mom), I often wake up with vivid memories of long and insane dreams that stick with me through the day. They play across the emotional spectrum from hilarious to horrifying and the horrifying ones don’t go away easily. I’m really not sure if my Telly Monster personality is what makes the bad ones hang around or whether it’s the clinging bad dreams that have turned me into a Telly Monster, but I’ve been dreaming like this for as long as I can remember.

Possibly the most vivid dream I have ever had was when I was in oh, fourth or fifth grade, I guess. I was in Girl Scouts for a short time, and I’m pretty sure the dream was concurrent with that experience because in the dream, my mother was baking a pickle cake for my troop. I had discovered a tiny spark of fire in my bedroom closet and called my parents. Instead of putting the flame out or even calling the fire department, my dream-parents started packing to move. For some reason, and essential part of this move was baking a pickle cake for my Girl Scout troop. The dream ended disjointedly with me being tied to a chair in the kitchen, covered in spiders, while the house slowly burned down around my ears.

It was a bit traumatizing, to say the least.

The first time John learned about my crazy, half-lucid dreams was when I woke him up in the middle of the night, sobbing hysterically because I had just dreamed about someone in my family dying. I had been dream-visiting a hotel with my mother, my aunt and uncle, and my grandmother and grandfather and the place was a complete maze. We couldn’t find each other in the dining room, so my mother sent me to go find the others. The concierge ended up directing me outside, where I walked down this long and eerily quiet path in the woods to a mossy green clearing. My grandmother was outside the trailer, crying, and I didn’t want to go into the trailer, because I knew on some horrible level that I would find someone dead inside. Sure enough, the concierge came along the path, only she was a funeral director, and she made me go into the trailer. It was blue inside and as cold as a refrigerator but instead of finding a trailer’s insides, there was a small stone chapel and my grandmother was sitting alone at the front, crying.

I woke up with tears running down my face from that one, woke John up to reassure me that it was just a dream. When I dream like that, it takes me a few minutes to sort the dream events from reality, which is far from easy when you’re half asleep.

I dreamed last night of an old friend who died a few years back. He was never a close friend, but he was one of those people I had known since we were pretty young kids. I don’t know if it gets easier as you get older, but I had a hard time with believing this friend was gone in the first place. My generation is still supposed to be young and immortal, you know? In my dream, scattered among seriously disturbing events like the death of my husband and my parents’ imprisonment for credit card fraud, this friend was bright and alive and generally the sort of person I suppose he’d have grown into. When I woke up, it was easy to laugh off the bit about my parents committing any financial crime and not too difficult to reassure myself that John was still alive. It wasn’t so easy, however, to remember that my friend isn’t out there growing into an adult, as I am.

By the morning light, my post-dream disorientation feels silly. Dreams are only dreams, neh? All the same, I’d take my dreams while a smaller dose of realistic syrup if anyone made the offer.