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.