Thursday, June 7, 2007

Dreaming big, but will fiction follow?

I know that everyone says not to start stories with dreams, but last night I had a strange one. It involved me "accidentally" marrying the wrong person (a common theme in my dreams, oddly) and not knowing what to do. At the end of the dream, I was standing on a frozen river, and when I started walking, my feet kept punching through the snowy crust and getting stuck in the current below. I walked this way for a while, and then came to the edge of a canyon. I stood on the canyon's rim, and looked over at the opposite rim, where my (accidental) husband was standing close to the edge. I called to him to get his attention, and when I did, he shouted with surprise and fell, plunging quickly into the depths of the canyon. The dream was a vivid one, and I watched him fall with a heady mix of emotions: sadness, fear, and most of all a deep relief that I would no longer have to be married to him.

The oddest thing about this dream was how literary it was. Instead of just unfolding, dreamlike, it was as if there was a sort of narrator, voicing over everything. I dreamt the words "punched through the snowy crust" and "deep relief," felt them AND heard them.

As I lay there, somewhat awake, I kept thinking that I had to get up and write it all down, that THIS was a story worth telling. But I've never been smart enough to keep a journal next to my bed, and the few times when I've had something to write on when I wake up in the morning, I'm
always disgusted when I read over my "amazing" nighttime ideas. And of course, by the time I was in the shower this morning, the dream seemed utterly absurd, silly and improbable; certainly not the stuff of good fiction.

But it got me thinking about where good ideas DO come from. While my dreams have never turned into good stories, I've found that I do my best writing in the morning, when my brain is still teetering between sleeping and waking. I think it's a flexibility thing--as soon as my Outlook calendar is open and my day is blocked off into checkboxes on a task list, I have a lot more trouble being creative.

I'm curious if other people have had luck using ideas that come from dreams, and how those ideas are remembered--just as flashes of images, or whole narratives? Has anyone written a successful story that came from a dream? Feel free to comment. I'd love to know what you think.


GRUB NEWS: We're all psyched about the Night of Debuts tomorrow night, June 8th, at 7:30pm. The event features readings by authors Jennifer McMahon, Tish Cohen and Patry Francis. Jennifer's book, PROMISE NOT TO TELL, was mentioned on NBC’s Today Show Saturday morning as one of ten “sizzling beach reads” for this summer and scored a 4-star review in People, while Tish Cohen's book sold out on Amazon the day it debuted, and Patry's book The Liar's Diary has gained a huge national following. The lovely Porter Square Books will be manning the book table, and we'll all sip champagne and nosh on chocolate treats. If you'd like to come, RSVP, please: 617.695.0075 or sonya@grubstreet.org. See you there!

In dread,
Whitney Scharer

3 comments:

Sonya C. said...

Yes, yes! I did once. It was about an injured terrorist who gets left in a bus in the desert with 3 women he he's just tried kidnapping. I felt like a different writer. Let's hear about the accidental husband!

Dan said...

Marrying someone else?! Scandal! Stop the presses!

Julia said...

I had a dream once that I was married to my boss. We were both of the 'well let's accept it and get on with it' mindset. But not in a good way, more in a fatalistic way. It was a weird dream that stuck with me for a good long time. Not really the dream, but the feeling.

I have had a few giggles to myself deciding on who is the most appropriate person to play your accidental husband.