Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Sleep...Perchance to Dream

Have you ever had a dream that’s so vivid and clear that, when you wake up, you’re disorientated for a brief moment and find yourself wondering which is the real world?

I’m sure you have. I’m sure, at some point, everyone has a dream like this. After all, if you watch the movie “Inception,” that’s pretty much the entire premise.

It’s amazing the landscapes our slumbering minds can create. We get to go places in our dreams that we’d never be able to go in reality. Reality is twisted and distorted and everything is possible.

I had one of those dreams last night. I won’t bore you with the details because our dreams are never as exciting to others as they are to us. I think it’s because while we’re dreaming, we feel like it’s real and, when we awaken, we still have the sense that something happened, even if it was just the makings of our subconscious mind.

The hard part about dreams is that they slip away from us. We can try to hold on to them but, over time, though we remember the main component of what happened, we don’t remember the tiny details that made it so vivid that we woke up feeling strangely exhilarated and as if we’d actually experienced them.

I try to write down dreams like this. I do it as soon as I can after waking so I can remember as much as I possibly can before it fades away, a distant whisper of something we dreamed but never as alive as it was upon waking.

The interesting thing is to go back and read about those dreams a few years later. I actually had a dream journal where I tried to capture the essence of the most vivid of my dreams. I read it recently and rereading them, I’m often amazed at the things my sleeping brain devised. I might remember having the dream but reading the details amazes me.

The one I had last night was like that. To some people, it would be alarming. To me, it was fascinating. Essentially (and without the too boring details), it involved an apocalypse, a Beast, me selling my soul to Satan in order to become a powerful demon who was immortal.

The thing I remember most is the detail of the dream. Even now, I can pinpoint the moment in the dream where I made the choice to sell my soul. It sounds weird and twisted but I’m fascinated that my subconscious was able to make it so realistic and actual. There was panic in the dream, mass chaos and lots of fear. Then there was an otherworldliness to the Hell my brain created and the exhilaration of feeling power and control.

(Note to people who know me: I promise I’m not contemplating a change in faith or becoming a satan worshipper. My brain is just a bit odd when I sleep. And when I’m awake. But that’s another story).

Granted, if you’re familiar with my book, The Reluctant Demon, demons and Hell aren’t exactly a stretch of my imagination. Since I just finished the sequel, Emmy Goes To Hell, it’s not even a surprise that I can visualize Hell since that’s entirely what composes the framework of that book.

However, the Hell of my subconscious was far scarier and, dare I say it, than the Hell my sleeping brain concocted. The demon I became was nothing like the demons I made up in my book. There were processes in my dream Hell that were surprisingly logical: I had to get baptized into the name of Satan, eat some form of offal and have dinner with Satan himself.

Naturally, as a writer, I’m quite fascinated. It’s like my brain wanted to write a new story, something darker and creepier than the comedic effort I just composed. If I had to analyze it, it’s probably due to the fact that I wrote my demon books to try something lighter and new but I’ve missed the dark and twistier tone I usually use. This was my brain’s attempt to reconcile what I actually did with what I subconsciously wanted to do.

This is not to say I don’t like the books I wrote. I do. I think they inject a little darkness into the chick-lit genre while still keeping a somewhat light tone. My heroine has trials and tribulations but she’s intrepid and determined and is never really in any danger. It would be a different book if she didn’t make it out of Hell but got stuck there forever. It definitely wouldn’t be a romantic comedy, would it?

It’s just that, well, danger is exciting, isn’t it? It’s thrilling and it makes things interesting as long as it ends well.

I think my next book needs to have a little more danger and darkness. I think my dream was my mind’s way of reminding me that while it’s fun to create fluffier things, what I really enjoy is a dark and twisty tale where my heart pounds a little and I never quite know if my hero/heroine will make it out intact.

Whatever the reason, I have to admit, I was disappointed to wake up this morning, even if it was to a puppy frantically trying to wake me up so I’d let her go outside to do her business. I felt a strange let down because I would never find out the end of my dream-tale. Dreams are not like DVR’s where you can resume the spot in the TV show where you left off and they’re not like books where you can bookmark a page and jump right back into the story.

Instead, dreams are an amazing place that’s always different and you never, ever know where you’ll end up when you lay down to sleep.

You just go along for the ride.

Happy Friday!

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