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I know: I’ve become obsessed with dreaming and now all I write about is dreaming and writing… don’t worry: it won’t last forever! Just bear with me a while longer.

The other day I was writing a dream sequence for my current project. I’d been procrastinating all week. I’d been telling myself that I needed to just research this thing or just think about that thing a little while longer. But eventually, the time came that I just had to get on and write it. And I did. And there was buzzing and serendipity and all manner of lovely things that happen when writing is going well. But there was also something else, something that’s never happened to me before.

I’ve been recording my dreams religiously for around a month now, trying to learn more about how they work and how to write them effectively, but often there are bits I miss – perhaps I had a conversation too soon in the morning and forgot to grab the thin ribbons of my dreams before they drifted away, or perhaps I ignored the alarm clock for too long before I got up. When I was writing this dream sequence though, I suddenly found snippets of dreams I thought I had forgotten landing in my consciousness like seagulls on a beach. It wasn’t even that I was writing about the same things that I’d dreamt about… or not exactly anyway. I would be writing about my character running towards a forest, for example, and I would suddenly have a sense of a dream I actually had about a series of rooms in a forest. I would write a passage about a dream figure with no face and remember a sliver of something about someone leaving their face behind after they’d kissed someone. They just sort of seeped into my writing thoughts.

These little lifebelts my subconscious threw out to help my writing really intrigued me. Suddenly I was aware of how much is going on up there that I don’t even know about. It was as though, in writing my character’s dreams, I was evoking in myself some kind of dream state: it was almost like I was dreaming while I was writing. It was a truly strange experience. I felt almost as though something magical had happened when I'd finished writing, almost as if some of the things I had written came from somewhere so deep within me that they were barely me at all.

Of course, I’ll never know if I really did dream those things or if my subconscious simply provided me with false memories of dreams. Perhaps it was just that I was writing about dreams that made me suggestible to the idea that these images really were fragments of my own dreams. And maybe the beauty, at least in part, is in the not knowing.

Image by Angie.

Reader Comments (9)

Dreams within daydreams. How intriguing! And I love the analogy of like seagulls landing on the beach.

I sometimes remember dreams later in the day - with a bit of a gasp as the memory seeps in. Sometimes I need a moment of thought to work out whether I'm remembering something that happened or something that was a dream. It's an odd feeling.

This morning, I slept late and had a very odd dream about my partner being unsafe with the plane. I stormed down the stairs, where he was quietly sitting at his computer, and had a go at him for being reckless. I *knew* it was only a dream but I still firmly felt he deserved telling off.

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersylvia

Dreams are such an odd thing. Sometimes I do that too where I perceive snippets of dreams at a later time like when I am doing mindless chores. I do wonder myself if it was a dream I am recalling or was it purely something I imagined as a part of the creative process.

It sounds like the writing is going great though and so I would just go with the feeling, better to not know where is comes from sometimes. It doesn't matter if these are false memories- because the act of becoming entrenched in your dreams is what is producing them.

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Gartner

I had a weird dream about my best friend's boyfriend and his Mom last night - and I've never met the guy. What can you tell me about that?

November 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTC

I've not experienced this writing, but definitely have had moments where something will happen during the day or someone will say something that will remind me of a dream I had that I thought I'd forgotten. (How's that for a long sentence?)

I remember the first time I discovered the full text of Freud's Interpretation of Dreams online, I was like a kid at Christmastime.

Someone sent me a link to this article the other day, sort of a new theory on dreams. I thought you might like to read it:


November 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBone

Sylvia - It's funny how dream-anger can seep into real life, isn't it? There have been plenty of times I've woken up angry with Dave and it's taken me as long to get over it as it would have done if I'd been angry in real life! And yes, that feeling where you're not sure whether you're remembering a memory or a dream, that's a strange one. Sometimes I'm not even confident that I've accurately worked it out!

Michelle - It's true - whatever's going on, it's all good. The writing is going pretty well at the moment. The dream stuff is almost just an added bonus!

TC - I've no idea! Maybe your subconscious is just trying to prepare you for when you do meet him. Maybe you sense that this is going to last and you're getting ready to accept him? I don't really know though... I have not really found a consistent pattern for analysing dream content. I'm not really sure there is one, to be honest.

Bone - Thank you very much! This is great - people are starting to do my research for me!

That remembering you describe, prompted by something someone says, I wonder if that's where deja vu comes from... or one of the places anyway. I've never thought of that before...

November 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJ Adamthwaite

Hi Jenny, I've just found your blog and I'm really glad I have. Your writing is beautiful; the word pictures you paint are so evocative. I shall visit again!

November 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjennyfreckles

Jenny: Thank you. And welcome! I look forward to seeing you again.

Bone: Thank you for that link. The article was not only interesting, but entirely supported the way I've written my dream sequence! Hurrah!

November 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJ Adamthwaite

Wow, that sounds really interesting!

I get the impression, that we are always dreaming while we are sleeping it's just that we can never remember it.

It's strange how there is so much stored in our memories that may rise to the surface at some point, or may stay hidden for years. I can't quite imagine the process of 'storing' as it's just a weird shaped mussel yet so much goes on inside it.

November 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

I know what you mean. It's amazing to think what goes on up there, isn't it? And so much of it beyond our control. I get nervous if I think about that part too much though! And I think you're right: everything I've read suggests that we do dream when we sleep - it's the remembering we don't always manage.

November 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJ Adamthwaite

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