Page 22 of Room to Write speaks of dreams, as what we recall and record of them can provide a source of material for our creative writing. Twilight fans may recall that Stephenie Meyer’s entire vampire saga stems from a dream she once had of a vampire falling in love with a mortal girl while laying together in a meadow; in fact, on her website she says, “For what is essentially a transcript of my dream, please see Chapter 13 (‘Confessions’) of the book.” And yes, I suspect that’s where the sparkling came from, too…maybe she could have edited that part out.
In any case, I have also written a scene shortly after a particular dreaming/waking experience and thought this would be an opportune time to share an except (character names have been substituted):
The sound of traffic outdoors rustled Margaret briefly awake, shattering the meadow of yellow in which she had been reclining before she sank again into REM sleep, tugging her awareness of lying on the sofa back with her into the underworld of dreams.
She could see nothing, for her eyes were closed in sleep even in this realm, but, after an immeasurable length of time, she heard someone enter the room and approach her beside the sofa, hovering over her, looking at her closely. She could sense other presences, smaller, children it seemed, at least two, also standing there, idle, inspecting. While they did not touch her, Margaret felt the energy of their presence softly press on her in three areas down the length of her body: her arm, her hip, her thigh.
Her awareness of this became so keen, she began to panic over who may have just let themselves into Ron’s flat, when the door should be locked—it did so automatically upon shutting. She was terrified to be so vulnerable, laying prostrate in nothing but a bathrobe with not so much as a sharp or heavy object within reach for defense, yet willed her eyes to open in order to stop this if it was in fact a dream, or to confront the invaders if it was not. Her brain signaled to her eyelids to rise, but a paralysis overwhelmed her body’s senses as if in rigor mortis. The eerie, monotone childhood chant, “Light as a feather, stiff as a board, light as a feather, stiff as a board,” whispered through her ears as she struggled with her mind to usurp command of her physical self.
Open your eyes, open your eyes, open your eyes.
Her desire was singular, all her power channeled to one narrow focus.
Just move, move.
The effort was tremendous, filled with the futility of one confined with locked-in syndrome, desperate to communicate to any degree again. Margaret fought the dread that would kill her will and urged herself on.
She became aware of her head, aware of her neck.
Her arms materialized, if only phantom limbs. She wanted to lift outside of herself, to reach out and grasp the shoulders pinned to the cushion and shake them fervently.
Her chest swelled. She felt it; it too was still there. With a breath, she welled with autonomous energy and shook herself.
The lurch of her torso sent a sharp inhale up her nostrils, and the glow of the morning sun ignited her lids. With a flutter, they opened.
Margaret found herself steaming in sweat, looking at nothing but the blank ceiling, then the wall with its two gaping windows, then her feet still propped on the cognac leather arm. Slowly, she boosted herself up and pivoted on the sofa to conventional seated position, facing the television on the wall opposite. To her right was just the empty kitchen, and she craned her neck to view further out into the hall and entryway. The unit door was closed. Rotating her skull to loosen the neck muscles, she stared at the empty space between the couch and the table that she had felt so certain was occupied but an infinitesimal fraction of a minute ago.
And in the event that you’re wondering, yes, I do have the uncanny ability to shake myself awake when I’m in the middle of an unpleasant dream that I want to escape. I don’t know how I do it—I’m sometimes simultaneously dreaming and aware of the fact that I’m dreaming, and I somehow will myself to wake up. Anyways, that was the exact dream I had as well, which, if didn’t originally inspire my plot, does indeed coincide well with it. With that, I bid you adieu for today and will follow up with a post freshly addressing page 22’s writing prompt. In the meantime, sweet dreams 😉
April 1st, 2010 at 19:56
There is definitely something magical about that threshold where we hang in between falling asleep and staying awake. And I certainly think dreams are very powerful tools for writers, I know lots of writers drew inspiration from their dreams.
I really enjoyed your scene; you really created the atmosphere of that dreaming/waking moment well, I felt like I experienced the whole thing with your character.
It’s getting quiet late, time to go to sleep… who knows what I’ll be coming back with from the other side 🙂
April 2nd, 2010 at 12:57
Thank you, Lua! I appreciate any and all feedback, and am relieved to know this scene comes across as intended. Dream anything last night? Please do post it here if so! I know I dreamt something last night, but have already forgotten…*sigh*
April 3rd, 2010 at 09:01
Haha – interesting. 🙂 Usually I am not the one to dream something useful at all, but since yesterday there must be some imaginative high developing or something (must be the hallucinatory power of the tummy bug I just overcame). I saw this person in Berlin metro that have me a weird little trait to one of my next main characters (isn’t it funny how you just know when you see them?). And then today, I actually dreamt of a story. It was some weird Avatar-like set pieces, evil scientists and all. But I woke up and knew – today’s a day to write. It is starting to fade now, so I better get going writing it down. Who knows what you might need hermaphroditic Avatar-resembling creatures for … Wish you some inspiring days, Monkey and Lua…
April 3rd, 2010 at 10:28
The storyworld needs more hermaphroditic blue beings indeed…ha! That’s brilliant, Eva. I hope you remembered enough about it to jot down and are able to use it somehow–sounds wildly creative. I love getting ideas from people-watching in public, too, usually when it’s not deliberate. There are all walks of life out there…people are quirkier than I could ever invent in my head 🙂 Sorry to hear you were ill–hope you’re feeling much better and have success writing today!