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?