In these divisive times, most people of whatever political bent do tend to agree on one thing—other people’s dreams aren’t that interesting. Proper dreams are full 3D VR experiences, complete with touch, smell, sound, color, emotion, the full range of human sensory experience. Telling the dream loses that, unless you’re a good enough writer/storyteller to shore up the gaps, and even then you’re down to something like “I flew from one mountaintop to another! It was amazing!” And the listener nods politely and changes the subject.

So I will tell you about a dream I had and immediately change the subject. Sort of. The dream, in its odd way, was the subject. It was a fairly prosaic dream which I will not embellish. Essentially, there was a writer’s group I was part of and we were looking for a place to meet. We eventually found a venue where dozens, if not hundreds of writers were already meeting, so we joined in. There was an invited Guest Speaker. I was listening to what he had to say, or trying to, because every other person in the room immediately broke up into small, intimate groups of five or six and started discussing their latest works. One woman was even narrating her most recent story via interpretive dance and method acting. No one was listening to the speaker except me, and I just thought, “Well, that was rude.”

Once awake again, I revised that comment to one word­­—“typical.”

What I was seeing in the dream was an overt example of writerly ego out of control. Never mind you. What about me? It’s sometimes called Writer’s Arrogance (WA) and it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s essential. Especially in the white heat of creation, where you must believe, to the bottom of your soul, that you’re making something worth another person’s time to read. Not to mention that it takes a great deal of self-confidence to face down the other writerly emotion, Crippling Doubt (CD). Which is likewise not always a bad thing, especially when it comes time to revise. There CD has to edge out WA so you can take a good hard jaundiced look at what you’ve written, and pinpoint the flaws so you can fix them. However, CD cannot be allowed to beat WA during the creation process, or nothing gets written. There’s a balance, or should be if this thing is going to work.

The dream was an example of WA run amuck. No one in the dream was capable of listening to anyone except themselves. I’ll give the Guest Speaker a pass because he had been brought there specifically to talk about his work. Only no one except the “I” of the dream was listening. Hmmm. According to several psychological theories, everyone in a dream is just a reflection of the dreamer. All those aspects of me, not listening? Then again, if the Speaker was just me talking, maybe I wouldn’t listen either.

There could be a lesson there, or not. I don’t pretend to know. Maybe I should listen more and talk less. Or at least not be so rude about it. It’s a thought.


Dream Time

Our Lady of 47 Ursae Majoris Uff, what a night. That combination of cold medicine and antihistamine sent me to a very strange place. I dreamed an entire series of stories, far future dystopian with some nasty day to day situations to get through and people barely recognizable as human, at least on an emotional level, yet recognizable enough. Not my usual thing at all. They were so vivid that at one point it was as if I was remembering that I had read them and trying to remember who the author was.

Then I realized that I had never read them before, or even heard of anything like them. So maybe I’m supposed to write them. If I can capture the tone of those dreams it’ll be worth it, yet they still have to wait their turn. After the book is done.

Do You Want Footnotes With That?

Heian Lady

Reference books. We tend to accumulate them in the natural course of our writing projects, whatever they may be. After all, Google doesn’t have all the answers, and while any single citation should be taken with a grain of salt, the ones you find on the internet need something more along the lines of a 50 lb bag. A source of reliable information is to be treasured, and since I’m going to be packing them up soon (oh, they are SO going with me), I thought I’d mention a few. I’ll concentrate on those I’ve found especially useful for the Yamada series and why, since I’ve been asked about them so apparently some people are curious.

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Yume no Monogatari

SleepingBuddhaThis is an account of a dream, so those of you bored by such things can be forewarned and skim elsewhere. I dreamed that the old Victorian-style house I spent most of my childhood in was still standing (it isn’t). Since we weren’t using it, I had volunteered it to be blown up (think Mythbusters), but my mother said no, we can’t blow it up. We should sell it.

Fine, says I, but if we’re not blowing it up I know the attic is full of things I need to look at before we sell it to anyone else. So I go into the attic. In real life the attic was just an attic, unfinished, no flooring, and the only time I ever went into it was the time I accidentally set the house on fire and needed to make sure that there was no smoldering going on, but that’s another story–which I will never tell, because it’s just too embarrassing. Anyway, in the dream the attic was HUGE. Bigger than our living quarters even. Divided into large rooms. Each room held something different. In one room there was nothing but very large stainless-steel vessels, which I recognized as parts of old milking machines. Another room held nothing but quivers full of arrows. The last room I visited was, to me, the most interesting because it was full of old books. Apparently I had spent quite a bit of time there as a kid, and one book was lying on the floor, open to the page I’d been reading years ago before I’d gone off to college and never finished it. Yet even that wasn’t what caught my attention, that was yet another book. A large book. And by “large” I mean about four feet high and three across, a picture book called something like SCENES FROM TOKYO. It was published just after WWII, and show paintings (not photos) of street scenes from the early 1950’s.

I opened it and it happened to fall open on a page showing three large men dressed as either Mongols or Tibetan Sherpas standing in a Japanese ice cream shop. The proprietor is handing one of them an ice cream cone.

Caption Reads: “Visitor Being Presented With the Ice Cream Cone of Redemption”

I was relating the dream to Carol, but after the Large Book she just sighed. “You know, I was doing pretty well parsing this in symbolic terms until ‘The Ice Cream Cone of Redemption.'”

Maybe it means something. Maybe I just had a craving.

Hypnogogic Pedagogue

That’s probably wrong, but it sounds cool. Regardless, I was doing the drifting in and out of consciousness thing a few nights ago and at one point heard my mother speaking to me:

“You have to settle things with your bitter jacket.”

Sure, I’ve had several jackets over the years, some I probably treated better than others, but I can’t recall any with hard feelings toward me or its life as a jacket. I was just awake enough to think, “That made no sense” and just asleep enough to think that maybe it did. Continue reading