For a time I used to write down all my dreams. I would wake up in the middle of the night and write them down in my journal. Writing upside down was a problem. The ink would flow away from the ballpoint tip, and no ink would come out. Then I discovered the zero gravity pen, the kind with a pressurized cartridge they use in space. Problem solved.
I tend to dream in stories; weird stories, but stories just the same. I remember one dream was so cinematic that it even had credits at the end, but just as in the movies, they went by too fast for me to read them.
Another problem I had was reading the writing I wrote in a semi-conscious state. Chances are I could have figured it out at the time, and sometimes I did, but when I look at some of the scratchings now, that I thought I understood, I can hardly decipher them. There was one problem that only happened a couple of times: somehow the journal that I reached for was upside down. I started writing down my dream. When I thought turned to the next blank page, I actually turned to the previous page and ended up writing my dreams down on top of a previous journal entry. Neither the entry nor the dream was legible. I had to spend hours untangling them.
This reminds me of a story that was going around when I was in college. One must understand that back then, term papers were typed on typewriters, which had inked ribbons. A student had just pulled an all nighter working on a term paper that was due in the morning. He was psyched up about it (I think ‘stoked’ is the proper term today), and was typing like crazy. After he finished, he saw that the carriage return had not been advancing the paper. He typed the entire paper on one line!
My plan was to save up the wonderful ideas that presented themselves in my dreams and use them to craft stories later in life. It is now later in life for me, and time to act. Now’s the time to sift through all the great ideas of my dreams and start writing.
Themes versus dreams
I noticed that when I have multiple dreams in one night, they usually have the same theme but different scenarios. This is not the same thing as a recurring dream. I’ve had those as well. For instance, during the period of time when my mother drove my older brother and me into New York City to take him to a clinic and drop me off at a friend’s apartment, I had my Chevy Dream over and over again. It was the basic abandonment dream. Mike, my older brother is autistic, low functioning and nonverbal.
I haven’t had the time or energy to decipher some of my 20-year-old dreams at this point, but I think I can identify certain themes: 1) being unprepared: I frequently dream that I have been taking a course all school year that I completely forgot about, and the final exam is the next day; 2) embarrassment: this type of dream usually involves me sitting on a toilet, the walls of the bathroom fall away and I’m there in the middle of a crowded room; 3) jokes: this happens rarely, but a handful of times I woke myself up laughing really hard at something funny I thought up. I wish I could remember a few of those; 4) previous places I worked; 5) New York City: subway and bus rides that are not quite familiar, but familiar enough.
A dream contains clues to the inner dialog of a person based on what is happening in his or her life at the time. In some cases my journal entries, can explain the dreams written down the next night. But it is probably not a good idea to look back at the dreams for material.
I should probably consider all the dreams I’ve had as a subconscious back-story to ideas I think up in the light of day.