Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Beautiful dreamers ... until you wake up

Okay, I'm not too proud to admit that I like naps. Actually, I adore them. With Boy headed for school at 6:30 am, in combination with my crazy evenings, I often don't get the ten, er, eight hours of sleep I need to feel fully functional. So occasionally, like this morning, I see Boy out the door and then head straight back to bed for a couple hours' make-up time. I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to waste work the rest of the day.

This morning was a little different. I had a really weird dream, so weird that it actually woke me up. It involved driving with Boy and getting lost (and I did get lost alone in my car this weekend, different story), finding a way back to a place I knew and finding it blocked, turning around, and then being forced to leave the car for some reason (the dream skipped that part) and go by bicycle, then foot, to escape a city via rail tracks. (The dream also skipped why we couldn't just take the train; they were in the station.) Anyway, Boy and I ended up in someone's workshop, being chased by zombies we didn't know were behind us. Pretty creepy, and yet, as I was dreaming, a little corner of my subconscious was saying, "Escaping a city chased by zombies? This would make an awesome story!"*

Now, there's no reason that dreams can't inspire good stories. One of my favorite writers of historical fantasy, Katherine Kurtz, has written over a dozen books after fleshing out a story (and an entire world) that she had in a dream. Of course, she likely had notecards right next to her bed to take down the dream in minute detail. My little corner of the subconscious is not that proactive. It whispers, "Oh, this would be an awesome story," yet it doesn't bother trying to wake me up to take notes. (It, too, probably needs its ten, er, eight hours of sleep.) So I have woken up, vaguely remembering the following:

  • A girl's home is about to overrun by invaders? aliens? ecological disaster? She escapes to the town's underground library, where she will rebuild civilization with books. And everyone will be grateful and treat her like a goddess! (Why the library is hidden underground, I don't know. Why a smartypants should expect to be treated like a goddess is equally mysterious. And yet, while I was dreaming this, I thought it was the greatest idea ever!)
  • There's something like a jungle gym in the sky. And people run around it to fight each other! They might fall off! But the winner will rule the kingdom! (Again, why in the sky? I don't know. And yet, my silly subconscious was telling me, "This is the greatest story ever!!!")
So I was reminded again this morning that while my subconscious might come up with an image or a situation that seems really unique and interesting, when you take away the immediacy of dreaming, by itself it's not very compelling. I've never been tempted to try any of these ideas because there's no story to them. More important, there's no character in them. Now, someday I might dream up a character who seems to fit in one of these situations, and that might spark something. But for now, I just take that little subconscious voice with a grain of salt. And vow I'll try to get to bed earlier tomorrow.

*Or it might, if Max Brooks hadn't beaten me to writing the definitive zombie book.

1 comment:

  1. My subconscious does this too. Also, the book is often written in languages I don't even speak.