Do you remember the book by Stephen King entitled The Tommyknockers where one of the protagonists, Bobbi Anderson finds a spaceship in the woods near her house? After the discovery, her failing writing career suddenly takes off, as I recall. Indeed, it takes off in such a fashion that she can type a story remotely; she’s out and about doing the things a country girl does, while inside her house, the typewriter is doing its stuff, all at the behest of her new found telekinetic powers.
Well, guess what!
Nope that didn’t happen to me. But I did dream a dream a couple of nights ago. I’d been struggling with a scene in a new short story I’m writing where I couldn’t understand the interaction between two of the three people who’d found themselves trapped in a confined space. The story had stalled because of it.
And further, the story itself had no middle or end – it’s a trait of mine, I’m afraid. I try and wing it. Sometimes it works wonderfully, and other times I end up shuffling around the house drooling and talking to the walls.
But this dream was my own personal Tommyknocker. It sorted things out, gave me help in understanding a complex relationship – which turned out not to be so complex after all – and this in turn helped wrap up the remainder of the tale. All I have to do now is write it. Now, where did I leave that spaceship?
One of the startling things about this dream is that I remembered it. Well, I remembered the concise edition, I remembered the instruction booklet it left behind on the floor of my mind before daylight could turn it into a wisp of fog and carry it away on the breeze. Now that really is startling. I usually sit bolt upright after having a Eureka moment, and because it was so vivid, convince myself there was no way I could forget it later when it was time to get up. Of course, I’d eventually get up and wonder what the gaping hole in my mind was all about, and I’d watch a wisp of fog disappear through an open window.
I know a lot of people keep a notebook and pencil beside their bed, and it’s a wonderful idea – so good in fact, that it’s something I’ve never done (don’t ask, I’m useless at things like that; I think it’s a fear of being organised!), but I did once use the voice-to-text feature on my phone to capture an extremely long and complicated dream that was, as I recall, a whole story filled with sparkle and charisma. I discovered, when I opened the document later that day, that text-to-speech doesn’t work too well when you’re babbling at half four in the morning.
So come on, smarty-pants, what do you do when a story strikes in your dreams?