So, a week ago I turned 36. While a very small part of me had the obligatory, “oh gawd, I’m officially closer to 40 now” moment, 99% of me was absolutely thrilled. I love getting older. I feel more like myself every year. I’m no longer pushing to prove my identity (at least, not as much) and I am much more comfortable in my own skin. One can only hope that by the time I’m actually 40, I will be that much closer to thinking of myself as a cool person (just in time for my daughter to become a pre-teen and tell me that I’m not, haha).
In honor of my latest birthday, I decided I wanted to do something new. Something fun. And I settled on getting a journal to write down my dreams. Now, mind you, I already have one of these, but I use it sparingly, only when something SUPER cool happens while I sleep, something I just can’t let go of. That is, afterall, the origin story of my novel, THE CUBE. I had a dream vision of a glimmering cube that was actually a game and just couldn’t let it go. Score one for the dream journal.
This time I wanted to really document my dreams and so I bought a daily journal (spending WAY too much time at Target going through each one to finally settle on one that was ‘close enough’) and have decided to document my dreams every night for one year. The good, the bad, and the not-so-memorable.
I was so enamored with this idea, that I actually started the week before my birthday to get a head start.
So, I’ve been doing this for two weeks now, and I can tell you, it’s already been enlightening. First of all, it’s harder to remember my dreams that I thought it would be. I figured if I wrote them down when I first woke up, I’d have no problem, but even then I find they fly their way out of my mind quite easily. I’m learning a new discipline of dream retention, which hopefully will prove useful for something else down the line (you never know).
Secondly, I don’t have great dreams every night. Some nights my dreams are merely flashes of images, drops of color, flitting fits of dream-lets.
But, other nights my dreams are long-sweeping, in-depth storylines, one fully-written scenario leading to the next. And, as it turns out, the nights when my dreams are more in-depth are the mornings I wake up feeling more rested. My brain and body like a good story.
From a writing perspective, I am fascinated. The vivid imagery I can remember, the storylines I have pulled out, the ideas for short and long form storytelling I’ve already set aside for further exploration, are just so much fun. Imagine how many stories I could have told if I had been doing this longer?! For example, the other night I had a dream that scientists were training rats to eat mosquitoes and then putting them in mini helicopter like outfits to have them flying around campsites to cut down on campfire mosquito bites. WTF?! Who wouldn’t be fascinated by that? I can't imagine turning that into a novel anytime soon, but at least it was original! Score another for the dream journal.
Now, I’m not one for dream analysis. Some dreams are obvious - worrying about family or work. Others are a little insane (hello rat flying in front of me eating mosquitoes!!). But, at the end of this year, I do have a feeling I’m going to know myself even better. And hopefully discover some through lines to my subconscious.
I guess my initial take away is this: if you are ever looking for writing inspiration or some writing prompts, look no further than your own dreams. It’s all there. You just have to write it down before you forget. And then you’ll be able to extrapolate and write something you’ll remember forever. Spoiler Alert: I see some short story writing in my future, and some short story reading in yours. Stay tuned!