My husband claims he can’t remember his dreams. I know he dreams by the way he fidgets and mutters in his sleep. He’s never once mentioned anything when he wakes up: no comments about weird images or nightmares, neither does he suddenly in the middle of the day realise the thing he’s thinking about isn’t real, but a figment of a dream coming to life once again. That’s me. I’m the dreamer.
I’m prolific. Every night I have vivid dreams and they are voyages into the bizarre and incomprehensible. As I wake, I lie there, wondering how the hell my mind can create such confusing stories during my sleep. It doesn’t last long, by the time I’m eating breakfast only the smattering of images or expressions remain in my memories, the rest has faded away. Nothing I dream about makes good fodder for a book. It’s like trying to catch a wisp of air – elusive and insubstantial. However, my daydreams are a different matter.
I’ve frittered away years of daydreaming: staring out the window when work was tedious, contemplating during a long train or car journey, lost in thought when I should have been doing school work, I’ve even dallied in reveries while playing my piano (I can daydream and play at the same time with no recollection of playing a single note at the end of the piece, but not on the flute, probably because I have to keep track of my breathing – perhaps there is a link between conscious breathing and inability to daydream!). Sadly, in my waking dreams, I have composed reams of stories but none of it has been written down.
Am I alone in having this creative energy at the most inopportune moments in my life? For example, when I’m driving the car a conversation between two characters is ignited and I’m frantically trying to find the record button in my head to keep it there and not lose it. Once home, it vaporises the moment I grasp a pen or switch the computer on. It happens over and over – in the aisles of supermarkets, watching kids’ hideous movies in the cinema or the top of a hill while taking a walk. Why is it I’m so goddamn prolific in my creativity at the worst of times or places. The most infuriating: lying awake in the middle of the night, desperately trying not to start thinking about the next chapter – is that possible, daydreaming during the night? Clearly for me, yes.
Perhaps I should simply embrace this curse. I do try to carry a notepad wherever I go, just in case. I also make mental notes – key phrases or words – in the hope when I get home, these will trigger the whole account I’ve written in my head. Some is lost, forgotten, others re-emerge in a different form, already edited. Dreams are potent sources of ideas, whether in your sleep or wide awake, this amazing conscious stream of imagination and inventiveness sets us apart from other creatures on this planet.
Catherine Storr – Marianne Dreams