Thursday, March 5, 2009

Can Nightmares About the "Ex" Inspire Writing?

Can nightmares about the "ex" inspire storylines, and plots and tension, fear and anger?

Hmmmm. Absolutely!

Although my ex-wife and I have been apart for years, I often dream about her. They are always odd dreams, like ... we're together in the dream, but I know that just can't be right. Or, sometimes, we're together again and it's weird like -- were the last two years really the dream, and us still being together is real? Very peculiar, let me tell you.

But once in a while, like last night, I had a nightmare where my "ex" was involved. (It's not unusual for me to have nightmares. It's rare if I don't. The unusual-ness is when my "ex" is part of the nightmare).

Let me run down the nightmare. (I'll keep it short. I know when people tell me what they dreamt the night before, it bores me to death, lol).

It was Christmas Eve. My "ex" and I were at my parents' house. My whole family was there. My kids. The "ex" and I were talking in the kitchen. I have no idea what the conversation was about. I was at the sink. When I turned around, she was gone. Vanished.

The phone rang. I answered it. It was one of her closest friends, wanting to know if she should come over and help round up a search party.

"No," I said. "It's Christmas Eve. I don't want to spoil this for the kids."

"Have you called the police?" the friend asked.

"Not yet. She's been gone minutes. Police aren't going to race out here to look for her. Not this soon."

The "ex" had been gone minutes, but like her friend, I knew something was wrong.

People at the party began noticing she wasn't there. I kept coming up with excuses. "She must be in the garage getting more chairs," or, "she's downstairs getting soda from the fridge."

Inside, I was beginning to panic. Where was she? What happened?

One thought kept coming to mind. What do I tell the kids?

I realized, in the dream, that I needed to call my "ex's" boyfriend to either tell him what was going on, or to see if he knew what might have happened.

The thought of calling this man made my stomach sick.

Part of me thought it was the right thing to do.

Another part -- well, we'll leave that alone now, won't we ...

Even now, while awake and blogging, I am aware of the emotions that ran through me last night.

Although I will not use this specific scenario in an actual story, the thoughts, and feelings I felt while dreaming can be stored for later use. Will be stored and called upon in the future.

Like most writers, I keep a journal. In this journal, I record information to refer to when writing. In the journal I jot down:

1. Possible book titles
2. Great names for characters
3. Memories, or events that invoked emotion
4. Story outlines, and plot ideas

The journal comes in handy when faced with writer's block. (If you are a writer and don't keep some kind of journal ... I'd strongly suggest you reconsider!)

Even though my dream provided no resolution, no climax, I woke this morning itching to get everything down in my journal (and to blog about this as a writing tip, as well).

The point? Ideas come from all over. Inspiration, for me, is derived from daily interactions with people, dreams, nightmares and plain old imagination. Without my journal, good ideas would be lost, or forgotten, or compromised.

I think for my next blog, I'll talk about heading to the mall with the journal and doing some serious people watching. A little creepy, I know. But fun. Good times. Good times.

So, until next time!

Thomas Phillips

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