Dreams & Nightmares

The title is the name of a poetry magazine specializing in speculative forms. However, I’m talking about those things that hit you when you’re asleep.

We all dream. It’s part of the mind’s way of processing daily events and emotions. If we don’t dream we go mad. People who suffer from apnea risk never dreaming because they don’t go into the right leve of sleep, REM (meaning rapid eye movement) where dreams take place. A person can develop a neurosis or suffer other health problems if they don’t achieve sufficient sleep and depth of sleep. This is still debated because the brain is a crafty organ to understand.

Needless to say that most mammals seem to dream. And that dreaming is part of the normal sleep process. While a dream might be the processing of the day’s events, it is also a place of alien concepts. My dreams rarely correlate to what happened during the day. Sometimes they will, like being at my ex’s party this weekend (we’re still friends) and going to sleep thinking about a relationship I”m writing in a story.

It brought out a strange dream about my ex not paying attention to me though there were two of him in the room. I awoke crying, realizing that it was a dream and thinking how bizarre it was to dream of our relationship many years in the past. But that was a combination of things on my mine or recent events.

However, I often dream of different worlds and societies, or  place where people walk around with their skins off. How these dreams relate to my everyday is very unclear. My dreams are often fantastical and science fictional. I read once that a study showed that creative people suffer more nightmares on the average than others. Why that is, I’m not sure anyone knows.

My dreams have often been the fuel for stories and sometimes poems. Dreams however, have dream logic. They’re often a mishmash of images and even storylines. In an average night a person may have five or six REM episodes, and although we have longer ones later into the night, I bet our brains sometimes mix the different episodes into one.

So a dream may be vivid and colorful and have a complex plot but as I start to unwind the storyline I see the gaps in it. I must then iron it out and not be slavishly true to the dream. Years ago I had a dream so complete with religious society, nobility, races, conflicts, plots, characters, that I started writing a novel from that dream. I had enough material to get through half a book. I’m still writing that book and I can no longer tell how much was dream and work I’ve put in since then doing world building. But I have the dream written somewhere and I know that society was very complete.

Where did that dream come from? Not from what I was reading, nor from my day-to-day activities. All I can presume is that I entered a different world, one of what-if. My sleeping brain, given freedom to roam and create, said hey, what if there was a world like this? And off it went.

I’m glad  my brain makes bizarre connections and imagines worlds and races not of this earth. My creativity sometimes carries on even when I’m not aware of it. I’ve also gone to sleep with a half completed story whirling in my thoughts specifically so that I can dream up an ending. Sometimes it works, sometimes it takes several naps. And sometimes I’m still looking for an appropriate ending.

I am very happy that I can remember at least some of my dreams. It makes my sleeping more fun and my creativity more bountiful.

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Filed under art, fantasy, health, life, memories, people, science, science fiction, Writing

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