You know how other people’s dreams are usually boring? I’ll try not to be. But remember, you volunteered to read this.
I don’t often recall dreams. Pretty sure I undergo the usual REM and sleep cycles, so I know I dream. But the other night I dreamed and I remembered. It hasn’t faded away yet either. You know, in the way they do, like when you’re too eager to ice a cake fresh out of the oven and the mix melts clear away to nothing.
Anyhoo, it wasn’t like that this time. It was a different order of dream and it’s still with me. Also still with me is a kinda weird, something aint right feeling, which was especially apparent when I work up at 4:40am to get ready to go to work. Dark and uncanny was the morning after that dream. And I put on every light in the house.
Back to the story. I was in an old building, an amalgam of buildings familiar to me, which was once a settler home but now a shop, selling touristy knickknacks and hippie gear and souvenirs. You know the kind of thing. Handmade instantly breakable stitched things next to leather bags, quaint cards and ceramicy stuff. The proprietor was a complete stranger to me, but very personable. Like he knew me. And he had a jaunty hat. So far so normal.
Just as it all seemed ok, the place turned into a kind of ye olde parlour filled with people and the aforementioned proprietor began to talk about ghosts and how his shop was haunted. Then everyone had to tell their ghost story. Again, fine-ish.
The proprietor began to describe his shop ghost, which, for a lack of a better name, he called Mr Corpy. Now I was starting to get creeped out. Then I realised why.
I was freaking out because I could SEE Mr Corpy AND no one else could. And the proprietor was getting the description wrong. Mr Corpy wore a battered top hat and suit, a bit too small for him, and he was grey and very, very tall and thin and grizzled. But not very old, except for the fact he died maybe 150 years ago. The proprietor was getting Mr Corpy mad, in a passive aggressive haunty kinda way… it was like he was sucking energy out of everyone there and while sliding along the walls. Like he was 2D and grey/sepia. It was as if he’d stepped out of an old daguerreotype photo. Then he realised he was being watched.
At which point I woke up.
I know. I know!
I’ve used dreams in stories before. Yes how very deus ex machina of me. But I’ve rarely dreamed up a story. And this was a story! As usual it was a strong start and even more as usual it’s the ending I need to work on.
I even made up a name. Mr Corpy. MR CORPY (I can’t write it a third time or else, TROUBLE). The fact my brain did that while I wasn’t even aware is cool/freaky. When writing, selecting a name is mostly a conscious decision. What I call characters is important yet often when writing in first person, there’s no name. But this dude had a name and a look and reason. *Shiver*
As for the Proprietor. I can’t make up my mind if this overtly cheery nameless dude was a sinister ringleader of some sinistery occult thing, like a retail Aleister Crowley, or just a regular local who liked hosting tours of his shop and was the guy the dream me was going to marry. Sometimes you can’t tell. Also psychoanalyse that one – can name weird ghosts but not shop-proprietor-storytellers. Hmmm. Think I’m in Stephen King-land - ’cept without the giant spider…. Yet.
What’s the point?
That as much as we (well me) analyse writing and creativity and read and buy books about it, sometimes it comes from places different to the conscious mind. It’s unbidden but a welcome intrusion into all the planning, plotting and rewriting that goes into any piece. Few writers sit there waiting for inspiration, but when a dream delivers something you can use, that’s fried gold time. Even if you only use it in a far-flung post for one blog among millions.