A Writing Tip: Have you ever had a dream, so real, that it lingered upon awakening?
I have. Often. Bizarre, seemingly unrelated imagery, words, that seem to make sense in the dream world, although, upon awakening, leaves an emotional aftertaste, without much in the way of cohesive meaning. And then, over the ensuing half-hour, or so, the imagery fades away until it is barely remembered.
But not always…
I could smell the coffee, the dark roast, freshly brewed, before my wife handed me the paper cup, shriveled in some bizarre, and yet, normal, way. That was the coffee, and I held it in my hand as the scent permeated both worlds; the one where I was lying on my bed, a hypnotic soundtrack playing through ear buds, and the world where I was sitting in a familiarly, foreign couch, surrounded by people I knew—some family members—and others, at a birthday party for me. The party was a bore; no one did anything, we sat around waiting for the coffee, and I slipped between conscious and semi-consciousness, bringing with me the scent of the coffee.
For a moment I opened my eyes and saw my wife seated across the room, reading a book, with a glass of wine beside her. She looked at me, hoping that the assault of tinnitus that had made me take a hypnotic nap, had helped, and she waited for me to say something.
“Did you just have a coffee? ” I asked, groggily. I already knew the answer; the wine glass was half-full, so it had been awhile in the partaking. She shook her head, and I lay back down, muttering, “Just had an amazingly real dream….” But was it?
Was I really there, in that place, the alt-world of subconsciousness, where the erratic and often jumbled reality, still makes sense, nonetheless? It was real enough to believe that it was real enough. The sight, sounds, touch, scents. Even though the plot line seemed more a psychedelic trip, it held a credential to reality, an innate proof that somehow I could understand.
“I’ve heard that you tap into multiverses; alt-realities that exist elsewhere, like a television set that picks up every fucking channel at once, and you stare at it, hypnotically, and you catch a bit here and there, yet no one gave you the roadmap, or no one showed you how to fine-tune your immersion to a single channel.” I’m not sure to whom this is directed. I almost believe that there is someone there, a voice of reason to help me piecemeal this trip into coherence. But I do not know who that is.
I’ve often believed that reality is the state of belief. It’s not original. The best movie to that effect was the sappy, Christopher Reeve film, Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour, a romantic, trans-time film about lovers criss-crossing from 1912, through the 1970’s when the film was made. If you believe enough, you can go elsewhere. We are here because we believe we are here.
Wipe that smirk off your face, reader. It’s my story, dammit! Besides which, you have NO proof I am wrong, just as I have no proof you are right. But what if?
Philip K. Dick wrote a short story called The Electric Ant back in the day—you can read it in the reprinted anthology of Dick’s voluminous works. The story is about a man who wakes up in hospital to learn he is not the human he thought he was; rather a robot (back before androids, replicants and artificial people.) The question was a definition of reality. How do you know? Really. How do you know?
Back to the dream. Lucid dreaming, and I will call it that for the sake of etiquette, does offer the writer a chance at vivid writing. To open your mind to the possibilities, which is contrary to the uniform mentality of the PC society we now live in, allows the writer to be the master, something imperative when using an omniscient point of view. After all, this is your creation we are talking about, your story, your world, your characters that you have created and are solely responsible for. Is this not so?
I am plagued by what I call “my payback” for being a shit in an earlier life. I have degenerative vertebrae that inflict a host of symptoms, mostly three arthritic cervicals that are a result of writer’s slouch (also known as millennial phone slouch, these days). I am also plagued by tinnitus which ranges from mild to severe, which, despite a myriad of medical professionals arguing to the contrary, is related to the cervical decay. It is also your vanilla, aging, tinnitus—about 50/50.
I wear hearing aids with a tinnitus masking generator. This has helped greatly, to about 50%. Now I must seek alternative treatment for the remaining 50% since a cervical epidural failed to help. My mother always said I was a “pain in the neck,” and now she gets the proof of it.
I am hardly incapacitated. I function as do you, my stubborn arrogance prohibiting any self-pity, although there are days when a nap is certainly a requirement. As was the case today, my lucid dreaming from the hypnotic audio binaural beats blended with obscure orchestral variants, quite hypnotic and inductive to a relaxed state of mind.
As a writer I recognize one fact at I find other writers reluctant to openly admit. This is MY world, dammit, and I, at least in my writing, get to decide how it works, why it works and how to manipulate it. I do not have to endure the PC illness that plagues the outside world, do not have to identify everything with a label. It is my creation and it remains raw, pure, subject to all the influences placed upon it, including freshly brewed coffee that is so strong that it returns to my awake world with me.
So what’s the point? A good question. Often, I receive manuscripts that get a detailed, raw response back. I assume that you know you can write already, so I do not feel the need to praise you for the effort. I assume you want to know what is not right, how to strengthen it, not some hyperbolic platitude that your mother or grandmother has already given you. My advice is to take the reality, and to take everything else and make it your own brand of reality; God knows humanity has not done a better job. Write raw, write real, hold nothing back and what you will have is both a manuscript of note, but also a reflection of the demons within, the dreams within, and the muddle of deciphering what it all means.
Don’t buy a book on how to write. If you need that, you have no business writing. And don’t get hung up on grammar and sentence structure. That’s why God invented editors and proofreaders. Some of the best-selling writers I know have so many errors in their work it is close to embarrassing. No one gives a shit; the story is so compelling they never notice.
Just write. Because you are a writer. In this world. In the dream world. In the parallel world. In the alternate world, and even in the world behind the veil of reality, the one we have yet to discover.
And that’s that!
Of course, if you want a little mind-blowing science… check THIS OUT!
Amen. Or not.