Sometimes you hear about writers being inspired by dreams, or even writing their dreams down as stories. The fact of the matter is this doesn’t often end well. After all, dreams are a kind of brain defragmentation process, sifting and sorting through stuff in the waking day. The vast majority of dreams make no sense, so even though we feel how real it was, it’s really not. No matter how emotionally stirring it might be, no matter how much pathos we might feel, or fear, or joy, when we examine it in the cold sobriety of full caffeine-fuelled consciousness it becomes so much gibberish.
I present as Exhibit A the novel Twilight, by Stephenie Meyers. That whole bit with Edward taking Bella up into the trees and then exposing himself to the sun so she could see him sparkle like frickin diamonds to show what he really is – to which she responds he’s beautiful… that was a dream the author had. No lie.
It explains so much.
I once had a very real dream about a busload of people that were taken hostage. The thing was, the hostage takers were in fact dreaming themselves into the dream, and all the people on the bus were people inside of an apartment building at 3am. The idea was that if their demands from their real-world contact weren’t met, they would blow up the dream bus and everyone in it, killing everyone in the building in real life. It seemed so real I wrote it down as a story the next day, as close and as true to the dream as possible. I loved it. But when I showed it to my brother, who hadn’t experienced that sensations I had, it came across pretty flat.
However, that story inspired me to write a follow up story loosely connected to it, which he did like and I have to admit was a superior effort – even more imaginative than the dream. Dreams are chaos, imagination has order.
I bring this up now because I’ve been having a bit of a dry spell writing wise. I’ve written a chapter summary which I’ll be sending to my agent soon for feedback, but have written nothing new since. I haven’t been reading enough, either (finished Making History, though, and stand by my recommendation of it to you).
But last night I had a dream. A very vivid and real dream, one which I woke up from with a start. At first I thought “oh, that’s a neat idea,” and began to drift off again.
Then my mind started thinking about it.
In a semi-conscious state I began to explore the idea, expand upon it, take it apart, turn it over, see where it went. Even as I thought about it I realized where the influences came from (two movies, a book, and a video game), but the way they had recombined in this lucid stupor woke me up for good. It was 2am, and I went to my computer and turned it on. Unable to wait for it to boot up I got out my green notepad and started scribbling. I got two pages of ideas down and went to bed, only to get up ten minutes later and add a third.
The core image of the dream itself is still there, and will be incorporated with heavy changes, but it’s really just the grit that the rest of the idea congealed around. Is it good? I think it is, and I’m pretty sure I’m awake. Part of me wants to write this story and see where it goes, and part of me thinks I need to plot it out. I think I’ll meet the two ideas halfway and just write a basic outline to see if I have my hands on a novel or a long story.