Wednesday, April 20, 2011


A friend of mine regularly posts synopses of his dreams on Facebook. (keep reading--this isn't going where you think).  They're actually pretty interesting. Sometimes they're funny, or bizarre or touching. They're never static or boring. They're fuzzy and languid, as dreams should be, but they still manage to have a shape and a logic that rings true, even in the middle of the day, as I sit reading his posts and drinking coffee, in the very pragmatic and altogether un-dreamlike landscape of my office. I'm envious of those dreams. Sure, he could be nudging them, maneuvering them, James Fey-ing them to meet an aesthetic goal, but I'm willing to bet the guy's got pretty good material to start with.

I don't have that kind of material. Still, I keep a notebook and paper bedside, just in case. Just in case I awaken after a kick-ass dream and need to write it down.  It's happened a few times. I've opened my eyes in the small hours, after some incredible adventure, some insightful encounter, some mind-blowing revelation and groggily scrawled the thing down by lamp- or cellphone LED- light.  Then I've put down my pencil, closed the notebook and fallen back to sleep, blissfully confident that what I just transcribed will surely lead to the next great short story.  Then my alarm goes off.  It's morning. I check the notebook, and--this happens every single time--I can barely read my handwriting. Well, duh. That's because I wrote it half asleep at 3am.  But here's the rub: even if I am able to decipher my sleep-scrawl, what passes for a great idea in the muzzy middle of the night doesn't always make for a spectacular idea with the dawning of the first light.  I'd give you and example here, but honestly, I can't even remember the dream I had last night. I think my sister's cat, Hector made an appearance. Did I mention Hector is dead?

So, actually, I think I just illustrated my point.

Anyway, this brings me to the big question, the one that I guess this blog, at least in part, is about.

Where do ideas come from?

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of using dreams as material for writing. Sometimes I notice that I pick up on a very small visual object, or something someone says in just such a way, or a single action that gives me pause. I guess maybe it would make for better poetry material, but I kind of like the idea of building a story around it and seeing where it goes. Once I was riding my bike and happened to notice a small child's plastic beaded bracelet on the ground. I didn't get a morbid thought like the kid got smashed by a car, but more like a "...that's the kind of bracelet I would have played with or treasured as a child" and brought me to other thoughts, about childhood, the past, siblings, etc. Of course, I also found myself noticing how people pick up their little kids and sniff the backs of their pants to determine if they need a diaper change...and ended up writing (what I thought at least) a funny story about it. I remember also watching someone I worked with (kind of a good looking guy) look at his watch by rolling in his arm ever so gracefully - it just struck me a certain way. I guess the gift is putting it all into the right words.