Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bad Dreams

Status Update: back to the routine again. Drinking black coffee, of a darkness and ferocity rivaled only by certain varieties of chemical agents only to be found in the worst sorts of chemlabs. Some day, I'll accidentally add one more ounce of grounds to my coffee machine and that's how zombie apocalypses start, folks.

Why the hell does "apocalypse" even have a plural form? You'd think one would be enough.

Anyhow.

I had a dream recently where I went back to some earlier blog entries and realized that my entry length had increased 300% since the beginning of the year. I felt a bit of chagrin over the fact--is my bloviating achieving some sort of critical density? Yes, I believe it is. Ce la vie.

It was an odd sort of thing to have an anxiety dream about. They always say that you should log your dreams so you can mine them for story ideas. Or sell them online as prophecies to wing-nuts. Either/or, I guess.

In my case, my brain never really serves me a huge variety of bad dreams. They always boil down to the same three things:

1. I'm late for something.
2. Tornadoes.
3. Haunted houses.

Thin pickings, unless I want to start up a new genre of horror stories involving being late for ghost-tornado-school.

When I'm not having anxiety dreams, I'm having Boring Dreams. The sort of dream where you wake up, go through the work day, have a typical night, maybe type some words on the internet while drinking awesome coffee, and then you wake up, only you have to do it in real life.

I had a dream once where I was stuck in a department store because I couldn't make up my mind which set of towels to buy. Plaid or red? Blue stripes or panda print? My brain is, occasionally, a very boring place.

Hell, I used to have anxiety dreams all the time about being naked in public. Then, at some point, I realized that random horrifying public nudity is actually kinda fun in a way and my brain stopped inflicting those dreams on me.

It's fun to think about, really. In writing, whenever you see a dream sequence, it's always a big glowing signpost that Something Meaningful is about to happen, perhaps in a symbolic form. Dreams are culturally ingrained in our collective psyche as a form of portent, messages from the supernatural world of great import. Mythology and religion is rife with examples: oracles and prophets, shamans and such.

When a character has a dream in a story, it's probably a good time to take notes--the author is going to get all poetic and Freudian on us. If it's the sort of story where fantastic things happen, then you're getting a taste of what the rest of the story's going to be about. If it's not, then you're about to get a peek at what's stewing around in the character's subconscious, perhaps get an alternate carnival house of mirrors view of what's going on in the story.

You never really see dreams as they really happen in real life. Pointless meanderings or childish portrayals of fears that the adult waking mind would dismiss out of hand without a second thought if the dreamer were awake and not a captive audience.

I suppose it's a cliche, that use of the dream sequence as a sort of scare quotes around Important-Stuff-We-Don't-Want-To-Come-Right-Out-And-Tell-You-About. But it's a fun one. It's probably why nobody really shies away from it--dreams are fun to talk about and even more fun to write. Unless it's about towels.

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