Unlike many people I know, I tend to recall my dreams every morning more often than not. That might be why it’s so hard for me to ascribe any hidden meaning to them. A dream where you’re chased by a giant monster made out of ravioli and cheese curds defies any attempts at decoding. Our society does, however, link creativity to dreaming, especially among writers.
“What inspired you to write this story?”
“Well, I had this dream…”
Dreams might provide an image or a character; rarely do they provide a story. At best, they seem to only tip off the creative process. At least, that’s what I’m gleaning from interviews and personal experience. I can’t say that dreams have inspired anything I’ve written, because my dreams lack any kind of coherent narrative. They have plenty of incoherent ones, sure, but in terms of story the best my subconscious comes up with is a vignette that might have a beginning but rarely has an end.
So, my dreams have failed to inspire stories. However, they’ve been inspirational in other ways.
One of my weirder nocturnal visions came after I was listening to a great many author interviews at work. My dreams are usually populated by people I know, so it was a bit unusual when this particular dream started with Gene Wolfe pulling up in a Model T Ford and driving me to his place, where Neil Gaiman was on the deck grilling souvlaki. I have no idea where this was supposed to be taking place, I assume it’s the same place with the recurring library of absolute perfection that I seem to go back to often. Then we sat down to have dinner and didn’t talk about writing at all.
This dream patently has no meaning, but I still woke up feeling pretty awesome about it. And it did make me want to write. So there’s that.
I don’t think it bears any relation to the other dream I had of meeting Terri Windling in a coffee shop except that it was probably in the same town with the incredible library. The whole adventure and excitement part of dreams seems to have drained away since I became a teenager and I’m far more likely to have dreams like the ones I’ve just described—I can’t even remember the last time I had a dream where I was swinging a sword around and rescuing princesses but that library keeps on coming back. In some ways, these ones are just as entertaining, and a great deal more comforting.