Last night in the bathtub – a fine place for encouraging the muse – a story came to me in vivid detail: the characters, the dialogue, the setting, and a story arc that I rode right to the end. I never spoke a word aloud. It was if I had sat down to watch a movie.
The story began when two people from my past who had never known each other appeared together in a place I did not recognize. That alchemy is a gift from my imagination. I would never have thought of bringing those two people together. Perhaps it was old unfinished business, but my imagination saw it as grist for the mill before I could begin to ponder its meaning. The finished story, enriched by the freedom I give it, will tell me the meaning, if there is one. There doesn’t always have to be.
What I have now is a note in a folder. When I return to it, those two people who had never met will, when I follow them, take me somewhere different than the dream. To try to recreate it would limit it. Instead I shall follow my nose. Therein lies the joy of fiction.
It reminds me that when I write I am my first reader, full of curiosity about where the impulse to write – to follow – is going to take me. If the journey remains interesting to me, it has the best chance to be interesting to my readers.
Have you had dreams that bring surprises from your past? Odd combinations of people, events, and circumstances? What do you do with them when they come? Journal them? Fictionalize them? Find their meaning?