Dream, Dream, Dream

By Erika Hoffman

Dream, Dream, Dream

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” This first line of Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, gives me shivers all these decades later because it evokes emotion with the word “dream.” It hooks you because folks can relate to dreaming about a past place they once knew. Who hasn’t felt the power of a dream?

“Dream, dream, dream, dream,” belted out the Everly Brothers. They sang about being a forlorn boyfriend who can do nothing to rekindle the love he had except dream about it. Sometimes dreams are reveries like the lyrics in this classic tune; however, just as often dreams may be prophetic, like Joseph’s in the Old Testament when his nightly visions predicted seven years of prosperity in Egypt followed by seven years of famine.

I’ve had dreams that seemed so real that upon waking I wondered if the events had happened or if they were remnants of a movie I’d dozed off watching earlier in the night. But my dreams had a purpose a few years ago. One day I decided to write a novel. Countless times while I was composing it, I’d find myself with a cliff hanger on the paper, but no resolution in sight. Sometimes I’d stare at the monitor willing the words to appear. Often late in the evening, I couldn’t fathom what my main character would do next or what awful situation might befall him. Tired and thwarted by my lack of imagination and therefore lack of progress, I’d quit ruminating over the plot, switch off the monitor with a sigh, and climb the stairs to resign myself to being stuck.

In the middle of the night, I’d have my “aha” moment. Suddenly, I’d jolt from my pillow and know exactly what would happen to the protagonist in the next chapter. Like a movie, the story unfurled in my head. The next scene had come to me while I slept. In my mind’s eye, I saw my novel’s sequence of events as though they had already been written. Quickly, I’d pick up a notepad on my bureau and jot down as much as l could recall, fearing that by morning light my dream would have evaporated, and I’d be greeted with a blank page again and nary a creative thought lingering in my noggin.

My saga took nine months to pen. Not every night did the muse descend into my bed chamber like a tooth fairy leaving me a little something valuable. Yet, I dreamt my next sequence of events often enough that I became a believer. I discovered my unconscious mind did overtime while the physical me reposed. I looked forward to my nightly mental adventures.

When I was young and had a problem, my folks said, “Sleep on it. All will be better in the morning.” Now when I stay up past the time that Craig Ferguson has tucked in his puppets for the night and still no idea has popped into my cerebellum, and I’m thwarted with weaving my plot lines and fleshing out my character’s foibles, I mutter to myself, “Get to bed Erika! It will work itself out by morning.” And usually it does in fantastic ways. The old wives’ tale states that kids grow when they sleep. I think modern day scientific research has verified that adage. I maintain that one’s mind grows too when the body sleeps – it expands to entertain ideas that never would have dared appear to a person in her conscious, coffee-laden, focused state.

So creative folks and fellow scribes and pursuers of fantasy and impossible happenings – go to bed and dream. And who knows? Something might morph from being a figment of your imagination to being the solution to a long time problem that you couldn’t wrap your head around when you were stonily, consciously, caffeine- stoked awake. Embrace your dreams! Each night we rewind; each morning we begin again.

About this writer

  • Erika Hoffman Erika Hoffman views most travel experiences as educational experiences and sometimes the lessons learned are revelations about oneself.

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4 Responses to “Dream, Dream, Dream”

  1. I wonder if this works for non-fiction writers, too? I need to get more sleep! :)

    • Erika Hoffman says:

      LOL! I don’t know. With my non-fiction, I write it straight out, one sitting, as I recall it. With fiction, I am making stuff up which is hard to keep track of and often I paint my characters into a corner and can’t figure an exit strategy and I have no “truth” to rely on as it’s all been conjured up! So, in answer to your question, I’m not sure dreaming is so helpful for non-fiction. But maybe? Who knows?

  2. Mary Ann says:

    I agree–creative sleep. Thanks for giving me an excuse to go to bed early!

  3. Karla Sullivan says:

    I loved your story on Midlife Collage and you encourage me to do what you do…so happy to see your humor here.

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