Dreaming and Writing

I’ve been doing something very strange recently.  The weirdest part is that I have been doing it while I sleep.

I have had an interesting history with dreams.  When I was much younger, I read about how to train yourself to remember your dreams.
1  I also have a fairly long history of keeping dream journals.2  The good news is that I tend to remember my dreams.  Unfortunately, they are rarely fodder for story ideas as some would have you believe.4

I have also had some, albeit limited, success with lucid dreaming.  For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a lucid dream in one in which the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming and can then take control of the dream.  Essentially, the dreamer becomes a controlling character in the fictional landscape of the dream.

Now I have to admit that I do have a problem with the general idea of lucid dreaming. This involves how dreams function.  I can not help but question whether one actually has control over what is happening in the dream or if this control is actually an illusion which is part of the overall scheme of the dream itself.  For example, am I actually in control of the dream or am I dreaming that I am in control and the decisions that think that I am making are actually already made by my subconscious.

Moving beyond these seemingly meaningless questions, allow me to explain how lucid dreaming works for a friend of mine.  On numerous occasions she has dreamt of being in a mansion with many, many rooms.  When she realizes that she is there, she decides which portions of the building to explore.  She decides to go upstairs, or check out what is behind the closed door, or examine the books on the shelves in the library.  I have read about others who realize that they are having a nightmare and actively change the scenario, changing the dream into something pleasant.

So what does any of this have to do with anything?  I’m glad you asked.

I have been experiencing a particularly odd sort of lucid dreaming lately in which I become aware of the fact that I am dreaming by pulling back from the dream and seeing myself sitting down with the computer
writing what was happening.  For example, about a week ago I was dreaming that I was trying to get the house prepared for a number of guests who were coming to stay with us.  IRL7 I woke, let the dogs out and back in, then went back to sleep.  Later that night I dreamt that someone was walking through a large, unfurnished building.  I pulled back to an image of me writing this where I said “I’ll use that scene from the earlier dream.”

Another strange example involved someone running through a large, multi-use stadium building.  There was a graduation going on in one theater, a country music concert in another.  There was a hospital complete with security doors which trapped people trying to leave for the attached parking garage.  The person who was trying to escape was running from some sort of were-creature.  There were a number of instances where the individual used magic of one sort or another to get past various obstacles.  When he was finally trapped, the writer portion of the dream thought “To use another spell would seem like cheating.  He should have an object, a cloak of invisibility which looks like a normal hoodie until he zips it up.”  Then I skimmed back through the dream and added this detail earlier, correcting bits here and there for continuity’s sake.  I also decided that when drained by too much magic use, the character could restore himself by eating high calorie foods like candy.  This magical metabolism would explain why he was so thin.

I don’t know if this will continue or not, but it has been an interesting experience.  Hopefully, closer examination of the odd-ball quasi-lucid dreaming won’t wreck my ability to do it.

There is also a good chance that this is my subconscious telling me that I have been slacking off on the writing front of late.  If so, message heard.

1  To this day, I am not sure if this was a good idea.  The technique involved determining you sleep patterns and then waking yourself up at certain intervals in order to write down what you were dreaming.  I think that this may have contributed to my long standing problems with insomnia.

2  Something I no longer do, but I do keep an illuminated notepad next to the bed.  Everyone knows that the brilliant thing that you are sure you will remember when you wake will disappear with the morning dew.

3  It’s also true that things which seemed brilliant in the middle of the night may make little to no sense by dawn’s light.  The phrase “Expandable, inflatable, chocolate monkey wrench,” for example.

4  There are times when I have dreamt the solution to a problem that I was having with a particular story.  For this I credit my subconscious working overtime.  I’ve already been thinking about whatever sticking point I am currently stuck on when I find that I can’t keep my eyes open any longer (I do a lot of my writing at night).  It just makes sense that the old grey matter would keep on working off shift.

5  Which, of course, leads to the question of whether or not I am, as a matter of fact, in control of the dream because it is the creation of my subconscious which is necessarily part of me.  Then I start to get this blinding headache behind my eye and I stop thinking on so many levels.

6  Which works just fine until the dude in the striped sweater and fedora shows up and slices you with the razor glove.

7  In Real Life — Meat World.

8  It also showed that this particular character was not me, no matter how much I would like to have a magical excuse for eating chocolate.