Where Do You Go When You Dream?

Where do you go when you dream? What avenues do you tread when you have time alone to think by yourself?

I don’t mean dreaming at night, of course. Though sometimes there might be a bit of that. In my night dreams I do revisit grandma’s kitchen: the blue cabinets, the upper one with the marks of leads hot through the door from when my cousin Natalia got hold of her dad’s rifle when she was six or seven. The big table that grandad built, and the blue chairs that went with it.

I could close my eyes and find everything in that kitchen that no longer exists. Go for cornbread from the kitchen dresser. Set water to boil. With my eyes closed. Even though the last time I entered it was 30 years ago.

But this is more ….

Every writer has a touch to the things he imagines, the things he dreams of.

Or at least every writer who has a compulsion to write.

My places were always .. ordinary world where something no one expects goes on behind the scenes.

I used to spend a lot of time in train stations. At first, the train is how I made it to the city for school. Then I had to take the train and the bus, since college was on the other side of the city.

But all of this, schedules meshing and not — mostly not, something advocates of “public transportation all the time” don’t understand — meant I ended up spending a lot of time loitering around train stations, waiting for delayed trains, or the next train, or whatever.

This was in Portugal, and if you want to imagine the country as a dowager that never threw anything away (that’s changed somehow) you’d not be wrong. So there were, at the back of all the lines in operation, a bunch of lines with decommissioned trains, most of them from Victorian times.

I used to sit there and imagine that those carriages were used as time-travel loci. I imagined that behind our backs, people of all ages, secret agents came there, and did their thing. Grand intrigues, plots, etc.

I had such a grand time I sometimes missed my train.

Also, down from my parents’ house there were underground tunnels, old Roman mines in which I imagined an entire underground network of magical beings met, unbeknownst to all the good villagers.

And let’s talk about the ruined house that was said to be hunted, where I imagined I could go tot he time of the Napoleonic wars, when the house had burned.

There are other things, but the hidden world is a strong component of my strongest dreams. I didn’t realize until recently that this had fallen into my shifters series, and the Dyce series, and how much there is in those series of the secret world stuff, because no one in the mystery series knows they’re in a town of, or indeed about to be married to, shape shifters.

I believe there is a particular force to stories into which those dreams fall.

The things we dreamed of when we were kids seem to have a special potency, a special force a golden nimbus.

They might be illogical, or silly, but the fiction they pour into becomes stronger for them, more vivid, and infused with a force of those long-lost childhood dreams when anything was possible.

So, where do you go when you dream?

17 thoughts on “Where Do You Go When You Dream?

  1. In real dreams I often go to places I know well except they are objectively completely unlike them. Wrong view from a room, plus the window does not exist.

  2. My daytime or drowsy imaginings are mostly musings on the plots I’m currently churning on, or plots I’ve recently read — fabulations about “what ifs”. But my real dreams are either variations of older places in my life (real or altered), or themes of heightened emotion (negative or neutral) — isolation, abandonment, endurance, physical defense. Because they are dreams, they have some of the effect of shock — the mental distancing from action and recognition, and thus the ability to observe and reflect on one’s own interiority.

    Sometimes, a dream fragment is vivid enough that it becomes a permanent part of something I’ve experienced, like real life, and can even make it into a bit of fiction (like all real life), most recently sparking the mid-point of book 5 of the series-in-progress.

  3. Sarah:

    And let’s talk about the ruined house that was said to be hunted, where we

    Could we get the rest of that? I don’t mean to bug you about typos, but I really want to know how that paragraph ends!

      1. No blame, just wanted to know what the deal was with the house! Thank you.

        Interesting that most of your dreams seem to involve time travel, while mine would probably involve ghosts or fairies.

    1. There are, you know, labyrinthine and multi-dimensional houses. When certain evil spirits, who hunt intelligent beings for fun, find them, they use them to wreak terror across many worlds. When one is found out, it has to close down the door and lie low, for fearing the hunters will find it as they hunt for the way.

  4. Well, this might explain why my first stories were horror… *chuckle*

    Plotting, mostly, these days though. Stuff for the zombie story. Occasional stuff for the plant guy isikai. Some things that go back to the other sci fi story. The high fantasy one hasn’t made an appearance in a while. Only tend to get that one when times are more financially fortunate, happier, or lazier.

    When I was a kid, my daydreams were somewhat similar. I grew up in a time where time forgot little Appalachia. You were as like to find stuff from the thirties still working and in use as the sixties or seventies. The old barns were time capsules of a life, with spare parts from old Farmall tractors, Studebakers, and the occasional horse tack.

    In those places were time travelers dropping off and forgetting their gear. There were witches in the woods, spirits in the caves (Appalachia is absolutely *riddled* with caves), and ghosts in the attics. The temperamental machines were as much haunted as the houses, and the houses were plenty haunted.

    Of course there was also alien planets and space to explore someday, as we were still sending astronauts up there on the regular. Computers were just becoming a thing as I grew up, and I heard about them long before they existed in my little mountains. This made sci-fi dreaming all the more possible.

    I still want my moon colonies, though. And asteroid mining! I want manned expeditions to the moons of Saturn, scientific bases on Mars, and probes landing on Venus to sample the poison planet in earnest.

    I want mankind to dream big, try audacious plans, and succeed in the unexpected places that have characterized humanity for generations past. Screw the glowbull wormening, DIE, and gender kerfluffely. Gimme space in all its terrible wonder. Gimme humans pushing boundaries in real science, not the fake stuff.

    That’s what dreams are made of.

  5. Daydreaming for me tends to be either a lot of high concept “churn” for early stage story ideas that may or may not go anywhere(1), secret history/conspiracy theory ideas (“wouldn’t it be amusing if this were true?”), or stuff pertaining to the WIPs (usually either world building, important character/action moments or plot twists).

    I used to have a lot of anxiety dreams: back at first full-time job feeling overwhelmed and confused, back in school/college with an exam coming, commuting to new job/school in an unfamiliar city with unreliable friends driving, first meeting in years with people who knew me when I was young and obnoxious. Those have mostly faded away in favor of a vague blur of coziness, for which I am duly grateful.

    (1) For instance, I was churning space opera ideas when I was in the late stages of working on the Ancestors of Jaiya novels, but also a lot of “If you could write proper scifi romance to formula, what would it look like?” When I was finishing up the space opera duology, I was trying on a lot of gaslamp fantasy ideas, some with a Warehouse 13 angle, others with more of a mystery angle. I think of myself as someone who starts writing with a character/situation combo, but in practice, that’s because I’ve already largely settled on a genre through the preliminary playing around and worldbuilding.

  6. I, too, often have nighttime dreams about places I remember – the same, yet different. My childhood home in particular. Interesting to see that others do too.

  7. Miyazaki went back to his childhood daydreams of exploring the woods of his home and gave us the Zelda franchise.

  8. Day dreams, fairy woods, daring rescues, wondering where the dragons lived… Looking for places to fly from if I suddenly grew wings. Hidden places, not places that you could see if you knew what you were looking at, but truly hidden places where you had to step just a little to the side of reality find them, but they were so close that sometimes a glimmering got through. Songs I could almost hear and the long stretch of eternity running ahead of me. Always just beyond reach. In my writing I actually can touch it.

    There are things I can see that might seem to fall into this, but they’re too sharp-edged and real to fit what I’m trying to say here.

  9. When I was a child, I was often chided for “daydreaming” when I was supposed to be working on something. Well, I was bright enough to understand the concept and I was bored and saw no point in endless drilling the same thing or the labor of writing it down. It was more fun to watch shadows crawl across the desk top. It was much, much later that I learned to appreciate the value of drill and writing. (I still don’t much the writing much, which is a sad thing for someone with aspirations to be an author, but if I don’t write them down, I tend to boringly reimagine the same things over and over).
    Last night I was dreaming about cleaning the gunk and corrosion out of some sort of electropsychomagical contraption in order to see whether how it was actually wired matched how it was supposed to be. For once, I succeeded. Of course, when I woke up the concept made no sense and the details evaporated, but it was fun to get *something* difficult to work right. Last month it was persistent variations on a non-fictional project in progress. When I was studying and trying to teach myself computer programming, I used to have dreams (nightmares?) about debugging and couldn’t make progress because the problem kept changing on me. A couple of years ago I dreamed about a yelling argument with my Dad. (I never dared that, when he was alive).
    Or, you’re asking about daydreams? I got lots and lots of those. Some of them discarded because I have learned they aren’t practical. I daydream about cheap solar power, a lunar farside observatory, round trips to Mars…(but unlike those who haven’t studied engineering or any economics at all, I can tell those are daydreams. At least for right now.) Getting fabulously rich. (Not working hard on that one and don’t want to). Lots of them on hold because I don’t have the time, energy, or money to explore them and there are other things that have to come first.

  10. Animals and non-human thingies. Talking to animals, turning into animals, half-animals (I would so LOVE a good centaur book, but all I can find is…specialized types of writing…). That dominated my imaginary life as a child.

    On a darker note, memory manipulation rears its ugly head whether I want it to or not. The protagonists of my main series are working under a curse that prevents them from recording anything, and the sci-fi I’m batting around has brainwashing through words and hormonal manipulation. My subconscious is Not Subtle.

  11. I seem to remember that L. Ron Hubbard wrote a story along those lines. When a man was cursed to stay awake forever, very bad things happened in “dreamland”

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