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Monday, March 8, 2010

Dream Weaver

During school visits I often ask students if they ever get story ideas from their dreams. Usually a couple of students nod or raise their hands. And I know writers who keep a notebook beside their beds to record their dreams before the images slip away. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to share some info about dreams—mine in particular.

Most nights I love dreaming. When I dream, my subconscious mind makes me the star of my own adventure. But the first dream I remember was terrifying. I was lying in my crib “wide awake” when a conga line of huge, transparent insects and worms paraded around the railing. At the same time a dark-haired boy and girl were staging a boxing match in the corner of my ceiling. I screamed for my parents because I was certain I was awake.

After that terrifying experience I took control of my dreams. If something awful were about to happen I’d stop the action and change the scene so that it worked out well for me. From then on, I enjoyed my dreams. In fact, I liked some of them so much that I’d carry them over from night to night. In the morning I’d mark my place in the dream, and the next night I’d proceed with the story from the stopping point. Sometimes I’d continue the same dream for several nights in a row until I got bored with it and decided to dream something else.

Another part of dreaming I love is being different characters—male and female--in exotic settings. A point of interest to me is that I’m always my own age or younger, never older. Naturally, I have a range of superhuman talents. I float but rarely fly, escape from evil space aliens, and excel in hand-to-hand combat. Oddly, I can’t read in my dreams. Sometimes I make out a word on a sign, but if I’m handed a letter or a book, the words blur into indecipherable symbols.

Here are a few other dream facts:

I dream in Technicolor, have "normal" conversations, and usually have a task to complete.

If I’m doing something impossible like levitating, I “test” myself to see if it’s real. Since I usually pass the test I'm often disappointed in the morning.

Some recurring elements in my dreams are dessert buffets, animals—real and imaginary, antiques and knickknacks, and having adventures with my high school friends and/or celebrities.

Saturday night, Ellen Degeneres and I had a jumping contest on a high platform above a crowd of people. Although our jumping abilities were closely matched, at the top of my last jump I decided to hover in the air for a while. I won.

After decades of spectacular dreaming, I should have come up with at least one decent story idea. Not even close.

So I’m asking all you writers and dreamers out there, have you dreamed up any stories, song lyrics, poems, etc. that have held up in the light of day? If not, any recurring or bizarre dreams you’d like to share? Come on, they can’t be worse than mine!


Kali VanBaale said...

I always dream that I'm fighting with someone and when I go to hit them, my punch is in slow-motion and soft as a pillow. Or I'm trying to run somewhere but my legs move like they're in syrup. I'm sure Freud would say I'm having feelings of powerlessness, am experiencing a loss of control over my life, have deep-seeded issues with my mother, am jealous of my sister and wasn't breast-fed as a baby.
Or I just fight like a sissy. I like your dreams waaaaay better.

Jan Blazanin said...

Have you thought about taking some self-defense classes in your sleep? They could make you a better dream fighter.

I bought a book for analyzing dreams a while back, but I'm afraid to read it. If I find out what my dreams really mean I may never sleep again.

Jenny O'Connell said...

The first book I published was started the morning after I had a dream and thought, "That should be a book." It sold in a pre-empt three months later.

Sounds so easy!! Which is why book #2, not conceived in a dream, felt like pulling teeth.