Monday, February 1, 2010


In middle school, I used to regale (or bore, depending on how kind you’re being) my carpool with stories of my dreams from the night before. I used to dream a lot more when I was a child than I do now; probably because I used to sleep a lot more than I do now. And despite the fact that I was as squeaky clean as they come, my childhood dreams seemed to always resemble drug trips. “I dreamed that my teacher boiled my tennis shoes,” one scrawled entry in my journal goes, “and they turned into neon green liquid.” Then there was the one where I was floating in a world of purple television static, scrambling for something to hold on to. Another about giant chess pieces suspended in space. On and on.

As I grew up, though, my dreams became less chaotic and more like stories. I met fascinating casts of characters – dark-haired, soft-whispering lovers; people who told me they were my long-deceased relatives; shadowy pursuers with their snarling hounds. I journeyed to both familiar places and new locales created by my mind. Often, these new places and the people I found there wormed their way into stories. Strangely enough, a common motif in my dreams is that of opening a book and then switching between reading the pages and experiencing the action as the protagonist.

I’ve only managed to dream about my novels a handful of times. No matter how much time I’ve spent deliberating about them during waking hours, somehow the characters shy away from my unconscious. When I do dream about them, they’re never doing anything relevant to the plotline. The one I remember with most clarity was a brief snippet of Arylle, Cor, and Tevian (from my first novel) sneaking away from a kitchen with their arms full of food. Tevian and Arylle, sure, but why would Cor be helping?

I’m envious of my boyfriend who dreams about the same cast of characters going on continuing adventures night after night. Where he leaves off in the morning, he’ll pick up later on. I’ve cursed the alarm clock time and again for interrupting dreams right as they’re getting to the good part – five more minutes and I would have known how it all turned out. And once I’m awake, it’s gone for good.

Interestingly enough, I tend to write less when I’ve been dreaming more. This may be a flimsy correlation; perhaps dreaming more means that I’m more stressed and therefore less interested in or capable of writing. Also, I tend to record more emotional dreams and sometimes when I’m finished writing it all out, I feel like I’ve gone through the wringer enough for one day and get up to find something else to do. Or perhaps writing is a substitute for dreaming.

Does anyone else experience this or does the relationship between dreams and writing go the opposite way for you?



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