Dreams and Nightmares

Posted on November 17, 2014

Anyone who knows me knows my dreams are like blockbuster movies, complete with explosive sound effects and cinematic scores that I swear are written by Hans Zimmer himself.  My nightmares, unfortunately, feel just as real as the pleasant dreams, and the intensity and fear in the recurring ones grow with each instance.

One of my “favorite” recurring nightmares is one where I’m driving a beat-up old car, and the brakes falter when I approach a red light. Of course, there’s a car stopped right in front filled with children who stare back at me and wave happily.  The children scream at the top of their lungs when they see the fear in my face. Their cries are interrupted by the screeching of metal parts bending and twisting as my car mangles with theirs. The scene turns into slow motion, with dark bass music in the background (similar to the score from Inception), foretelling the doom to follow. Blood, flesh, and bones fly everywhere.  I float away towards consciousness, watching my broken body disappear into a faded memory, and wake up shaking, sweating, and sometimes cursing.

My dreams and nightmares find their way into my short stories and poems. A Bluebird’s Melancholy was a whimsical dream; I was the reincarnated bluebird, and my husband was the unassuming cat. The Soul Snatcher was a recurring nightmare I used to have as a child, stemming from an urban legend in my neighborhood about a man buried underneath our school's playground. My poem, Tidal Waves, represents a recurring nightmare I used to have whenever my work-life got too stressful. A recent dream about my toddler child (who is now older) running into a busy street was the basis of I Lost My Way. The list goes on and on.

Having vivid dreams isn't always a good thing, but sometimes it leads to interesting tales. My latest novel, Family Relics, is inspired by a lucid dream, with fierce yet beautiful witches and enormous fire-breathing dragons in a confrontation set across a modern-day city landscape. The smell of burning metals, the crumbling sound of collapsing buildings, and the screams of people running in fear - it was all incredibly realistic.  I woke my husband in the middle of the night to tell him about it; he looked at me like I had two heads. He went back to sleep, I woke up and wrote the first chapter.

I wonder if this is a common phenomenon with creative people… do we all dream with rich details and a full array of color, using all possible senses? Does it spill over into your writing, poetry, or any other forms of art? 

Or...should I see a shrink about this? <snort> ("You're fine," said the voices in my head.)

Tell me your dreams and nightmares that you've put into writing. Share some links. Crazy loves company!


Photo Credit:
Dreams and Nightmares by Robert Stevens Connett

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