Dreaming Up Inspiration

delicate-arch-night-stars-landscape.jpgI had the strangest dream the other night:  I was on a planet called Halcyon for a conference that my ex-husband was also attending, and found out they were plotting to blow up my return ship in retaliation for the latest slight by Earth President Trump.  Yes, it definitely sounds like a nightmare so far…But wait!  I had Skylar and Josephine with me (my little dogs), and Jojo chose that moment to run off.  My escort on the planet grudgingly gave me permission to go after her, and by the time I caught her, my ship had left.  It did get blown up, which meant my ex-husband exploded along with it (hey, it’s not my fault, my subconscious did it!), and I got stranded on said planet.  As I was basically a political refugee, I wasn’t exactly welcome, so I ended up hiding out with the editor of an underground newspaper, an upperclass woman who was secretly a leftist dissident, and a group of prostitutes.  Oh, and my dogs.  Because in this dream-world as in life, I apparently didn’t like going on adventures without my trusty chinese cresteds along for the ride.  Since my dog basically saved my life though…

I’m not sure that some of the other details of the dream, like the big waterpark right outside the convention center or the giant waves I found myself struggling to stay under when I went scuba diving in Halcyon’s ocean, really fit very well into the bigger story, but the basic plot was still something useable.  I’m pretty sure we’ve all had strange things pop up in our dreams that made total sense to us at the time, but seemed really absurd, or at least out of place, when we woke up.  That said, I’ve heard enough recountings of people’s dreams and nightmares that I’m pretty sure we all have a whole plethora of stories that are fairly cohesive rattling around in our brains.  I’ve had people tell me that they’d love to come up with a good story, whether for fun, or to tell their kids at night,  or because they’d really love to write, but that they just can’t think of anything.  Putting aside the fact that everyone’s life contains all kinds of events and adventures to draw from, both good and bad, we also all have access to all the crazy stuff our subconscious minds come up with while we sleep.  We all dream, 4 to 6 times a night actually, so that’s an average of 35 times a week you can borrow an idea or a whole plot from your sleeping self.  And you thought you were wasting that 8 hours a night you spent in your bed!  See, you’re really doing story research for your next painting, song, or novel.  That’s your excuse and you’re sticking to it!

“But I never remember my dreams,” I hear you say.  Some people do actually seem to forget up to 95% of their dreams, and it turns out that people who wake throughout the night, i.e. those of us who tend to sleep poorly, remember a far higher percentage of their dreams then people who sleep soundly.  Isn’t it nice to find out that your insomnia has some benefits after all?  In any case, if you’re someone that rarely remembers your dreams, first try to eliminate any alcohol, strong medication, or heavy food before bed.  Then make sure your alarm isn’t set to play music or talk radio as that tends to bombard you with sounds from the waking world before you have a chance to remember what you were just experiencing in your dreams.  Finally, keep a notebook on your nightstand and write anything you remember down as soon as you wake up. Quite often you actually have bits and pieces of your dreams floating around in your conscious mind when you first wake up, but forget them as soon as you get out of bed and start planning your day.  As with any brain training, if you get into the practice of writing these details down the second you wake up, your recall will begin to get better.  I’m sure with some practice you’ll find you have all kinds of strange and wonderful stories just waiting to see the light of day.



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