Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fever Dreams and Other States of Being

Do you dream?
Do the images come to you as fragments or as part of a contiguous story?
In color or black and white?
Can you taste? Smell? Feel in your dreams?

My dreams are vivid, movie-like and tangible. I often wake with a taste on my tongue or the echo of a tune in my ear. Much of the inspiration for my writing comes through dreams. I fall to sleep willing, even eager for the embrace of my dreams. I am a child begging for a story and my dreams rarely disappoint.

Except when I am sick. Cultural expectations are that fever dreams are more vivid, more visceral. for me, it is the exact opposite. When I am sick my dreams retreat to mere flickerings, incoherent and jumbled. Colors are muted, the senses muffled. It is one of the primary reasons I hate being sick - the feeling of being cut off from my creative center.

This is the first time in my memory that I have been sick while in the middle of a successful creative period. My writing is going well, the first five chapters have been massaged and edited, and the entire book is taking shape in a manner I have never experienced before. So this time, the fever dreams came and I pushed back. I demanded clarity. I don't have time for this shit!

I was left with vivid flashes - the sight of a stranger's face, the fading sound of the last note of a concerto, the whisper of silk on my skin - but nothing is connected, I can't grasp the story.

Is this how you dream?


Heather said...

My dreams aren't generally as vivid as yours, but I dream every night. My dreams do have color and sound, mostly dark and washed out palette, but they can be vivid. The ones that seem to be the most vivid are the ones I have when I wake up and fall back asleep for while.

Frequently my dreams are mundane processing of daily life. However, lots of time there is some suspenseful, action film storyline where I'm being hunted or pursued or helping someone escape from "the bad guys". Other times they are like bizarre, sci-fi films. The thing I find odd is that neither kind is a genre of film or literature that I am a big fan of in real life. I'm sure there's all kind of interpretation you can read into them there. :)

It's interesting to see how different people dream, isn't it?

Doug Hagler said...

My dreams are not normally vivid. I actually realized that I don't really smell or taste in my dreams. I might mentally acknowledge a taste or smell, but I don't actually experience it - case in point, I had a shark-related ocean-dream last night, but no taste of salt or smell of brine that I remember.

My dreams are very tactile - weight and surfaces all seem plausible, in the dream at least. Faces tend to be indistinct - when I look at them, they are often amalgams of faces of people I know.

For a long time my most common dreams were nightmares - for years I would have nightmares or nothing almost all the time. I associate that with depression and sleep deprivation, and I'm glad it is no longer the case that they are the norm.

Doug Hagler said...

I haven't had a serious fever since I was a kid, but I still remember the vividness of the hallucinations. I wouldn't say dreams even - I was awake, and talking to a parent, and I would also be experiencing the room around me being crumpled like paper, or seeing myself in a vast room divided into boxes by vertical planks of wood, and my bed in one of the boxes far from the door where I could just make out my dad. When he talked to me, it sounded distant, and there was an echo.