Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Heroine of My Dreams

Written yesterday—but not posted

I’m dreaming in fiction. Maybe it’s like dreaming in Technicolor, one of those supposed great marks of a creative brain. Last night, for a full hour before I drifted into deep sleep, I was a heroine in a Regency romance. And you think I’m joking, don’t you? The thing is, I read 1.3 Julia Quinn novels this weekend—a treat just for me because it was Mother’s Day weekend. In fact, I had so Quinned myself that by the time I drifted into slumber last night it was no wonder that I dreamed about Regency London. For at least an hour, I was being forced to marry someone after some sort of “incident.” You know that damnable dreaded ton, always rushing to judgment. I dare say I was guiltless.

Fast forward until it was almost daybreak. Forget historic London, my friends—we’d gone all contemporary by then. I was Kate in THE CUTTING EDGE. I had to skate at the Nationals and Doug was my partner—only wait! Doug wasn’t nervous like in the movie! I was nervous, and that plot switch left me wondering if this little time traveling device of mine (back to the beginning of a story I already knew) didn’t signify other, deeper problems in the world of fiction I’d entered.

These dreamscapes are all too familiar; in fact for some time now I’ve been becoming a story character during sleep. And I’ve noticed that this “story traveling” first began as my writing hit a deeper level. It’s more than just the “heroine head hopping” in my sleep, though. My nighttime writing has become deeper and more exhausting at times. I’ve always written songs in my sleep—and edited on stories. Lately, though, this is happening more and more often, until these kinds of dreams dominate my nighttime landscape.

I’d like to hear from my fellow writers—does any of this sound familiar? I know a lot of writers who do create in their sleep. But…?? I’d love your own stories on this topic.

19 comments:

Demented M said...

I write poetry right before I wake up. Beautiful, graceful words that disappear the second I open my eyes.

I don't dream of my stories, but they can keep me up at night!

M

Ellen Fisher said...

The idea for one of my books actually originated in a dream-- I dreamed the first two chapters, and then woke up and typed them right out. That was unusual, for me. But ideas regularly come to me when I'm just going to sleep or just waking up. There seems to be something about "down time" that makes my brain more creative!

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I've always wanted the typewriter from Stephen King's Tommyknockers that captured the writer's story as she dreamed. My first book was inspired by a recurring dream. Sometimes I can prime my dreamscape with the next scene in the story by thinking of the characters or problems right before I drift to sleep.

Those were the B.C. years, though (Before Children). Now I'm usually too tired to dream!

Cindy Procter-King said...

I don't really dream about my stories. Not visually. I'm just not a very visual person. I dream about my stories in words. It's a hassle, though, because I don't tend to sleep well when a bunch of words are spinning through my brain. And of course it's not like they come in neat sentences. They're all jumbled up, like a puzzle I need to put together.

When I'm having a hard time with a certain scene or character, I "tell myself" to fix the problem while I'm asleep. I don't actually dream about the problem--I can be dreaming about something else entirely--but, underneath what little rest I'm getting, the words are spinning. When I wake up and go to my desk and start working, I "magically" (usually) have the answer to my problem. I'm just very tired, LOL.

Sometimes I have to to do this two nights in a row. And when I'm trying to plot an entire book like I'm trying to do right now (I'm so *not* a plotter)? I just walk around pretty much in a state of constant edginess until I get it all figured out.

IMO, what's really important is to "thank" your muse when she delivers you an answer to a writing problem while you're sleeping...when you wake up, whatever. I always thank my muse. She likes the buttering up, and it makes her easier to push around the next time.

Cindy

Trace said...

When I'm in the real heart of my book I'll dream of the story, me being involved in it, as a friend of my characters. It's really strange. We converse and I go on their adventures with them. We talk about what could happen if we do this or that. Always flips me right out.

Natalie Damschroder said...

I’d like to hear from my fellow writers—does any of this sound familiar?

Oh, man, I thought no one would ever ask. LOL

When something digs deep--a movie, a book, an actor, even a musical performance (just about anything on my Passions page, actually), I will dream about it. And my dreams will be very detailed, very real, and very exhausting. I'll be an active participant in the story, which is usually an amalgamation of the thing that moved me and my own twists.

For example, after seeing Sahara a few weeks ago, I dreamed about Matthew McConaughey in that half-wet suit he wore. Only he wasn't rescuing me. He was partially paralyzed (see: LOST's Locke) and "skiing" down a mountainside, and I rescued him.

It used to happen only when I wasn't writing new material for a while, but lately it's been happening more and more. Last night wasn't fictional, though. I dreamed they wouldn't let me drive down to the beach at the lake where I grew up because of the bananas.

Natalie, who probably is. :)

Jana Hanson said...

Clearly you aren't alone, De, because I do it too. It's in that moment when I'm still semi-conscious, just before my brain goes into 'off' mode. I've written some beautiful passages but I can never remember them or recreate them when I'm awake.

Anne said...

Apparently it is fairly normal ;) Which makes me feel weird.

I know we've talked about dreams before...and I've told you before that I *never* remember my dreams. However, I do tend to find that my mind gets the most creative when I'm *almost* asleep - just lying there, seconds away from falling asleep and just letting my mind drift away from me. *sigh* I love that time.

Diana Peterfreund said...

Count me in, too. (Though you're lucky you dreamed The Cutting Edge; last weekend I dreamed Closer [shudder].)

The most vivid dream story was one that happened to me many years ago, when I was way too young to be dreaming any kind of novel. I dreamed it like I was watching a movie, then descended into it where I stayed for what seemed like many months. I woke up crying because it had already been told and it was several hours before I realized that it had not.

But it stuck with me for years, and occasionally, I go back in my dreams and revisit that story. Someday, when I have the chops, I'll take a stab at writing it.

Tammy said...

I actually dreamed the opening scene of the second novel I wrote (and my marvelous agent recently SOLD! Thanks, D). I pictured a man returning home on horseback, badly scarred and disfigured. He eventually comes to a graveyard where a service is being held. After everyone leaves, he walks to the graveside and looks down--his name is on the tombstone.

That's how the idea for REKINDLED was born. I love it when stuff like that happens!
Tammy

Nephele said...

I've done this since childhood. I distinctly recall dreams where Mary Norton's "Borrowers" showed up in my front yard, where spiders on my bedroom wall were talking to me a la "Charlotte's Web," and in which I followed a robin into a secret garden. Of course, I also have a habit of thinking in third person like a narration, so I'm not really sure what any of this says about me...

Jeanne Damoff said...

This may be a slightly different twist, but I often edit my dreams as I'm dreaming them. I'm a character in the dream, and if I don't like the way a scene is unfolding, the dream rewinds to the place it went wrong and unfolds in the direction I send it. Even so, I don't know what's going to happen next, and I experience the full effect of fear or excitement or whatever emotion the dream-story dictates. It's like watching a movie and being in it AND being the director at the same time.

A couple of times I've written what I believed was heart-breakingly beautiful poetry in my sleep. Convinced that the world must not be denied this most perfect of word combinations ever conceived, I'd repeat it to myself several times upon awaking. However, as full consciousness replaced foggy half-sleep, I'd realize the poetry was a pile of poo. Then I'd laugh, slide out of bed, and go make a latte.

I suppose we're all brilliant in our dreams, eh? ;)

Deidre Knight said...

Ladies,
This is awesome. I plan to look over these posts and reply as a new blog posting. I may quote some of you. It's a fascinating topic. My urgent question, though, is why can't we more effectively tap into this realm creatively? Did you notice how many people said they lose whatever they gain? I do agree with Cindy, though, that we may not even totally know the resolutions that occur. I've had plenty of those exhausting dreams where it's clear my subconscious is hard at work creatively, only to find my resolution the next day.

Destruction Angel said...

Well...

The dreams I have are only worthy of horror novels.

Natalie said...

Of course, I also have a habit of thinking in third person like a narration, so I'm not really sure what any of this says about me...

ME, TOO! I've narrated my life ever since I was old enough to read. I distinctly remember being about 10 or so and walking along a lake edge--I don't even know where I was. And in my mind was a running narration in third person of what I was doing and seeing.

So, obviously, it says that you are an intelligent, creative woman. Of course.

Natalie

Jeanne Damoff said...

Natalie, that's funny. I posted my "Secret Narration Girl" comment on Deidre's League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen post and then read what you wrote here. Like you and Nephele, I've pretty much been writing my lifestory in my head as I've lived it. And sometimes--just for my own amusement--I alter my persona . . .

She eases into her Stealth MINI with the smooth grace of a jungle cat. Slipping on her shades, she revs the engine and cranks up the stereo volume. As Amy Leigh wails, "Now I will tell you what I've done for you," she glances convertly from side to side. Convinced she's escaped the spies' notice, she hits the gas, leaving a black streak of gloating laughter on the suburban neighborhood street. Reaching her destination in record time, she takes one last look at her mission. Milk. Bread. Orange Juice. This should be a piece of cake. Mmmm. Piece of cake. Maybe she'll add a few things to this list . . .

Do you ever laugh out loud at the story you're writing in your head?

I'm just pleased to know I'm not crazy.

Jeanne Damoff said...

Covertly. Not convertly. Um, yeah.

Natalie said...

That was wonderful, Jeanne! Even though I've been writing with Bombshell as a target lately, I haven't been QUITE that good with my narration. Must work on that. :)

Natalie

Lynn said...

I always dream plot ideas, and of course, I'm usually starring as the heroine. Oh, the heroes I've butted heads with in my dreams! *sigh*

I dreamed my entire first book. It was actually what got me started writing, because the dream wouldn't leave me alone until I finally got it down on paper. The ending in the dream was very different from the end of the book, though--that end was great for the dream, but it really bit the big one on paper. *g*

I also edit and get other ideas when I'm right on the cusp of awake and asleep. And then I pray I'll remember everything in the morning.

But I can honestly say I've never dreamed myself into any already written fiction. Guess I just like to create my own. *g*