I don’t normally write about dreams or use them as a basis for stories. Even when I remember them as more than fragmentary pictures or scenes, they are what they are: snatches of electronic housekeeping in the brain. There’s no meaning or import to them. They don’t foretell any futures or have significance for waking actions or thoughts.
Generally I remember narrative strands as I wake but they rapidly fade into the most memorable ‘clips’ or pictures with a general feeling attached. This feeling is the thing that lasts longest and can colour the first moments of the day, but little more for me. Both the specific dream, and its concomitant scenes and feelings, disappear very quickly as real sensory inputs flood in.
There are exceptions of recurring dreams, which I can only presume are related to difficult things going on in my head from times when I was very stressed and/or things I am still worried about at a subconscious level. Don’t worry I’m not going to bore you with those.
Occasionally something makes me think ‘that’s odd, that would make a great story’. I forget 90+% of these before I get to breakfast, never mind the pen and paper or keyboard stage. As a result of worrying about possibly missing the best thing since Don Quixote, War and Peace or The Alchemist, depending on your preferences, I did start leaving a pen and paper next to the bed and jotting these amazing insights into the human condition down in my half waking state. All that created was disturbed sleep patterns and screeds of illegible gibberish or weird unstructured chop cut scenes like a Ken Russell film but not as unstructured as Six Underground, currently luxuriating in number one slot in my Worst Films Ever Seen list.
I don’t keep a notepad by bedside for dream capture anymore.
So if I don’t do it, why spend all this time gibbering about it?
Well I broke my habit and my rule yesterday and posted a story based on a dream.
‘Onward Movement Opportunities’ has a body wrapped in a white material sitting up and pursuing me at its heart. That and evading her and locking her in a room were all part of the dream. The rest was the padding around it to try and give some sense to the unease of those events. Actually there as a more unsettling part near the beginning of the dream where several bodies wrapped in towelling shrouds slid down a baggage carousel and bumped into each other, but I felt that wasn’t right for the story I was telling. On reflection I have no idea why it wasn’t but it felt wrong.
Like the rest of it was perfectly okay?
Still I broke a rule and thought it provided the inspiration for what turned out to be an okay short story. Albeit of a type I wouldn’t normally write.
Does this mean I’m going to start mining dreams for narrative fiction? Pretty sure I’m not. If there are clearly defined, easily manipulated concepts and visual sequences that last beyond coffee and toast, or bacon and eggs, then I reserve the right to put my rule aside again, but until then we are probably all safe from my electronic mental housekeeping.