My best writing happens when I am asleep


Dreaming is one of my favorite activities. I don’t mean daydreaming, or conscious dreaming. I am talking about the crazy shiz that goes down inside my head as I sleep each night. It never ceases to entertain me or give me ideas or insight into something that’s been on my mind.

I don’t always remember my dreams the next day. Today is one of those days. I know, somehow, that I had a very exciting dream last night and it involved going to NYC, but that’s all I can recall. I do wish I remembered it, but just knowing my subconscious is so active makes me happy. I know, somewhere in my brain’s depths, what happened in that dream. And somehow, sometime, it will affect some other thing in my life. I’m in for the mysteries and the questions. I like not knowing things!

Anyway, I made a list recently when I was submitting my short stories and essays to take note of where each story idea came from. Basically, all of my short story ideas come from dreams. There is only one of my collection of 5 ‘publishable’ short stories that wasn’t something I dreamed about. Of my three works-in-progress novels, one of them is from a dream. And it’s the most fun one, too. I love that I was dreaming about selling weed to wizards and knights. That story, when I get to it, should flow out pretty quickly, since it’s light-hearted, a little silly, and my protagonist is a fun chick. Not a chicken. A lady, a girl, a chick.

(And it’s funny I ended up talking about her being “not a chicken” because it’s this same book that made my Mom say one of my all-time favorite Mom Funny Phrases. She read the first chapter and asked me, seriously, “Is your main character a chicken?” Somehow–I honestly don’t know how– she got it in her head that this girl was a talking chicken. The only mention of chickens in the story is that my character has a pen with a few chickens outside her modest little hut in the village where she lives. Oh man, this just makes me laugh so much, and never gets old!)

Oh, dreams. You are the best. Thank you for being so good to me all these years! And for giving me some of the strangest and weirdest dreams ever, because they amuse me and make people think I’m on drugs. Why would I use drugs? I get this stuff for free.


On Tuesday, April 24, my Writer Ex’s second novel is released. It’s crazy, right? I think so. It was two years ago already that his first book came out, and now this new one hits the shelves. Random-fuckin’-House Publishers. DUDE. That’s still mind-blowing, and it always will be, probably.

The difference between this book’s release, and the first one two years ago, is relatively huge. I’m not upset this time. Not at all. In fact, I honestly feel excited for him. I haven’t read his first book (I know, right? You’d think I’d have done that by now, just out of curiosity, but I haven’t gotten around to it), but I will make an effort to read this one. That’s because it’s based on the novel he was writing back when we were together. It has a new title and, from what I can gather online, the plot has been tweaked… but for the better. I didn’t think it had a plot before, which was one of my criticisms of the book when I read it for him and gave him notes. I really have to see how the story changed from when I read it over a decade ago until now. It’s going to be really interesting. I am even considering going to the book release party. I’d see a lot of old friends there, for sure, but also I could see what a book release party is like for an author. It’s got to be a huge adrenaline rush. And stressful. And fun. (Maybe I’ll see him wet his pants…? And laugh?)

While a part of me will likely always be just a wee bit jealous, because, come on, he’s doing what I want to be doing, that part of me isn’t front and center at all anymore. I’m encouraged and inspired to work as hard as he did to get my work out there. I can’t begrudge him his success, because the fact is he did the work. He wrote, he revised, he submitted, and he did it over and over and over again until things started to happen. That’s not easy. I have to give him credit for doing it. I have only just started this, myself, and I can see how time consuming and complicated it can be to get a fiction career kickstarted. (He’s the one who flat-out told me last summer to ‘get some of your short stuff published, even online somewhere, to help land an agent when the book’s ready,‘ and yeah, I believe that advice.

I’m doing it. And I finally feel like I’m on the right track. I’m a little angry that it’s taken me this friggin’ long to get started, of course. I don’t know why I dragged my feet so much up until recently. I don’t know why I let myself get so distracted from my dream. Why I was relatively lazy and made excuses why I couldn’t write. UGH. However…

…that’s all in the past now. Now, things are different. Now, things are in motion. I may not have gotten accepted to any publications YET, but it’s still only been a couple of weeks. Soon I should hear at least my first rejection, and I can move along and submit that story to one other publication, and so on, and so on… The current Me is taking action and not settling for wasting perfectly good time. And I love that.

I know I’m still nobody when it comes to fiction. Right now, my name’s not on that particular radar. I have a long way to go. But at least I’m on my way, and that’s what matters to me right now. That’s what helps me feel pretty good about myself as I drift off to sleep every night. Sleep, perchance to dream, and so the cycle goes on and on…

I do love being a writer!


8 responses »

  1. I should enjoy being a writer more. For me, it’s more like this thing I *have* to do. So I’m all, ARGH THIS IS HARD and the mister points out that if it’s that horrible why am I doing it and I’m all, I HAVE TO.

    I’m going to make more of an effort now to enjoy the process. The fact that I have so much creativity inside my head but I don’t know how to get it out is frustrating. I don’t remember the last time I had a dream that would make a good story (in my last dream, I was feuding with Robert De Niro) but I always get these little flashes of genius in the moments right before I fall asleep.

    Oh, also? Your mom is adorable. Hee, a chicken.

  2. See, here’s what you can do with that Robert De Niro bit: Put it in a scenario and go nice and weird with it. Like, maybe he is the purveyor of a little fancy tea shop/cafe, and you are upset b/c he gave you the wrong tea and you know it–you can taste the difference, for God’s sake– or something like that. That’s kind of a lame example, I know, but my point is just plop the tiny detail you do have into something else and BLAM, quick story idea. That’s kind of how I do it.

    Also, you could try the mental trick of commanding yourself to remember your dream. You do it by writing it down clearly on a piece of paper– for me, writring it is important, not typing it– and memorize how the words look and what it means. Then, envision that paper and those words and repeat it over and over to yourself in your head as you fall asleep. It won’t work the first time, but I’m telling you, it does work eventually. You can also use this same method to direct your dreams. I’m a nerd about this and would love to find some other writer to be nerdy about dream-stuff with, too. It’d be cool if it was you. Just sayin’. 😉

  3. Oh, BTW, my words on the piece of paper are: “I will have a clear vivid dream and I will remember it in the morning.”

    And it’s also important to have a mental image in your head of yourself, waking up and remembering the dream. Picture yourself waking up, reaching for a pad of paper and a pen next to the bed (or wherever) and picture how it will feel to write the dream-ideas down. All that visualization helps plant the thoughts in your mind and begin to build a habit. It’s like magic or some shit.

  4. I love magic shit! What actually happened in the dream was, Robert De Niro was volunteering at Boston Market for Thanksgiving, and I ordered the side order platter, and he threw a bunch of crap on there (like steamed vegetables and sliced cucumbers) without asking me what I wanted. And he wouldn’t take the stuff off and give me what I wanted, so it was on.

    I’m going to try your dream trick this weekend. (I’ll be doing lots of sleeping.)

  5. I love the side item platter. That’s b/c there are so many good sides, it’s hard to just pick TWO. But Bobby D. had no business putting other veggies on your food like that, and then having the AUDACITY to not remove said items upon request… so I’m happy you gave him hell for it. Someone needs to put him in his place.

  6. Okay…I’m gonna send you an email in a bit. BUT, I need to know–do you dream in color or black and white? So many people actually dream in black and white! I only have EVER dreamed in color. I’m betting my dreams are like yours–amazing crazy vacations from real life. Torey is all into lucid-dreaming, but I’m like, “I DO NOT want to control what I’m dreaming! It’s the one time in my life where I feel no need for control, where I enjoy surprises!” He doesn’t get it because he doesn’t dream like me.

    Stay golden Pony Boy.

  7. I definitely dream in color. Actually, I think most people do, because it doesn’t make sense for our brains to swap out the color in the images they conjur up. Everything we dream comes from our own experiences. If you didn’t SEE something in real life in black and white, I never understood how you would suddenly dream it in black and white when you see it in your dream. I’d love to find out more regarding how that works… but then again, I am currently obsessed with neurology. 🙂

    I prefer the crazy, no-idea-what-will-happen-next dreams! But I don’t like when I wake up in the middle of one. So I have learned to direct myself back into the dream to “finish” it. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, oh man. It’s so nice. It’s like watching a perfect little movie, just for me.

  8. No, you’d be surprised! I’m always asking people if they dream in color or in black and white, and most people actually say black and white! Isn’t that strange?

    Oh yeah, when you wake up but can get back to the same dream, that is SO awesome. I LOVE that!

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