Thursday, October 23, 2008


I've always been a dreamer--both day and night. But it's the nighttime kind I want to discuss, because of an interesting phenomena I noticed this year.

My dreams have always been vivid, colorful, and almost entirely populated by strangers. Yes, my hsuband popped up quite a bit, and occasionally friends or my children. But more or less, my dreams were like my stories--wonderful scenes, intriguing characters, and almost no logical story to speak of. Once I began writing seriously, I would often dream about my stories and characters and even when I dreamed about something completely unrelated to what I was currently writing, I would wake up with an image or an emotion that I needed for a writing project. It was wonderful--my own version of getting drunk, I suppose, to help unleash the Muse.

And then something very odd happened. After my son was diagnosed with cancer in January, my dreams changed. It took me a good six weeks or so to realize it, but then it hit me--I was no longer dreaming about strangers.

My dreams were as vivid and colorful and disconnected as ever, but they were now populated wholly by people I know. My husband and children, my best friends . . . all of them became stars in my dreams.

It didn't take long to figure out why. Dream analysis may be beyond me, but I do know that the subconscious will throw our worries at us. Apparently, all I had to worry about before this year was my writing. But once January came . . . well, my worries were entirely about the people I love.

So I went with it. Not that I could do much else--I've heard of the concept "directed dreaming" but honestly, that just seemed mean. Why shut off my subconscious that was working so hard while I slept? Besides, for all I know, allowing my worries to express themselves at night in freeform helped keep me rational and calm during the day. Small price to pay.

Why am I bringing this up now? Because in the last week, I've noticed my dreams start to change once more. I still haven't made it through a dream (that I recall) that doesn't have at least one person I know, but strangers are starting to show up once again. Maybe my subconscious is starting to let go now that we've reached the end of treatment. Maybe it's paying attention to how hard I'm working on my new project and is trying to help me out.

Still, if it's trying to help me out in my writing, you'd think it could give me clearer direction than me meeting an astronaut who was hit by a chunk of space dust during a spacewalk and had to have her arm amputated in space and now can see her arm floating in some space debris through a really big telescope.

(To give my subconscious credit, it was a very moving dream. Full of wonderful details and amazing characters . . . I'm just trying to figure out how that's supposed to help me write about a modern teenager in 1800s England. I guess my conscious mind needs to get back into shape as well.)

1 comment:

Katie said...

Isn't it funny how dreams work. I usually take care of my conflicts and resolutions in dreams. Amazingly it feels so complete that I am able to accept it and move forward in real life.

Please tell me the space doctor looked more like Simon and less like our friendly cardiologist/space doc.