I often use dreams as inspiration for my writing. Once in a while, I’ll have this long, complicated dream, and while I’m dreaming it, I’ll think, Wow, this would make a great story! When I wake up, I simply have to write it down and capture this brilliance! But upon waking, that dream-like state where everything make sense evaporates, and I’m left with the thought, “That was the dumbest thing ever.”
But once in a while, a dream or a piece of a dream will inspire a story. One of my first short stories I ever wrote involved a dream where my daughter Lilly was surrounded by lions. I was so terrified, but it turned out that they were afraid of her. She was stronger than I gave her credit for. It inspired a story I called The Lion, in which a mother kills a vampire for its blood to “cure” her disabled daughter. The mother had the lion dream one night; she hatched the plan to kill the vampire to “save” her child, but she realizes in the end that her daughter is perfect the way she is. The vampire wasn’t the lion; her daughter was the lion. I didn’t post this story on the blog because I don’t think it’s very good, actually, but I learned to take cues from my dreams to inspire stories.
I’m working on a story right now that is based on a dream I had sometime last year. I was thumbing through my notebook looking for inspiration when I came across the entry describing it. It was another dream about my daughter in which she and I were at a carnival. I turned away for one moment to buy ice cream or cotton candy, and when I turned back, Lilly was being led away by another woman. She was luring her away from me with candy or something, and Lilly didn’t hear me calling for her. The woman turned to me and said, “We’ll teach her what she needs to know.” And then they were gone and I was left sobbing on the ground.
So I basically lifted that whole scene from my dream and wrote it down, but that’s all I have right now. I have no idea who the woman is or what she’s going to teach the child or why she took her. It may not be about that at all; it might be about how the mother deals with the loss and the lack of answers she has. I’m not sure, but it will be interesting to find out.
Most of my dreams are silly gibberish; but I do think our unconscious minds have a way of speaking to us. Sometimes, I can pull out a gem and polish it up for a story.
If you’re a writer, do your dreams ever inspire stories?