Fantasies, dreams and real life

I had the weirdest dream last night… Hey, wait, don’t walk away.  I know people telling you about their dreams is boring, but I had a epiphany (aren’t dreams like that?) and I had to share (aren’t epiphanies like that?).

It started just before 4 a.m.  I woke up from a scary dream because my XY had just punched the side of the bed and woke himself up in a sweat, mumbling “I had a bad dream.”

“Was it about demon zombies?” I asked.  “I just had a dream I was being chased by zombie demons.”

“No,” he said, and went back to sleep.  This was good, because I was afraid that either;

1.  The sweet potato pie I’d made for dessert that night was seriously tainted, or

2. Demon zombies were coming for us and our subconsciouses were trying to warn us, and I really don’t like getting up early.

The weirdest thing wasn’t that XY and I both had bad dreams at the same time (even though, turns out, his dream had demons too, his were invisible) it was that I wasn’t at all afraid.  Yes, demon zombies were after me, but I had a big-ass sword hanging from my right hip (foolishly, since I’m right handed, but whatever) plus I knew I had one “look away” spell plus a touch of weak but useful telekinesis.  When the demon zombie lieutenant came to the door of the house where I had led some refugees, I cast my lone “look away” spell and, while he was distracted, I locked the door with my telekinesis (my hands probably being otherwise occupied shifting my big-ass sword to my left hip, but whatever).

Not only would this scene work — with some revisions — in an as-yet-unwritten UF or PNR, but I woke up feeling totally righteous.  Strong.  In control.  Dare I say, heroic?

Now, I’m the kind of person who usually has recurring dreams of the following sort:

1.  I’m an actress and I’ve forgotten all my lines.  In real life, I’ve been in exactly one play.  Bambi.  In, like, fourth grade.  I was Bambi’s mother and I remembered all of my lines: “Bambi, run to the forest, and don’t look back. I’ll be right behind you.”  This scene should inspire a certain amount of dread, of course, considering what happens to Bambi’s mother, but you think I’d be over it by now.

2.  I’m lost in my old high school and all of the stairs are either upside down or missing steps.  Yeah, this one doesn’t need interpretation, does it?

3.  I’m doing something near water and, all of a sudden, a giant wave engulfs me.  Since I’m a sinker not a swimmer, this too makes sense.

Suffice to say, I’m flailing and incompetent in all of these dream scenarios, so a dream where I’m in desperate, dreadful danger yet able — even eager — to face it?  Wow.  Heady stuff.  And I think being immersed in writing my current books — with tough-minded, forward-facing, not to mention armed-to-the-teeth heroines — is what triggered it.

I followed a GoodReads thread recently about whether reading romances damages real life relationships.  I was surprised at the number of commenters who felt, yes, their RL expectations were unreasonably high because they liked romance heroes.   Okay, I agree not every man is going to have six-pack abs and pecs of steel and a steel pecker, but really, are communication, compromise and commitment such unreasonable expectations?  I muttered to myself that no one questions whether reading fantasy or SF makes girls hold out for a werewolf or alien.

But then I realized many people do still think F/SF/etc. has no place in RL.  Despite the fact that nerds and geeks have changed our world, we still make fun of Star Trek pushing 50 years later.

Which brings me at long last to my epiphany, such as it is.  What I do, what I’ve always dreamed of doing — writing fantastical stories — is never going to earn me respect at a high school reunion.  Although a big-ass sword at my hip would probably do the trick. 

Nope, the reason I’m doing it is just like my dream.  Me and the refugees are running from the demon zombies of RL, and I’m going to save us all with my small but magical powers.  And I guess that’s enough to make me feel  a bit like a hero.

Or maybe it is just a dream.  What do you think?  Does reading or writing stories — of any sort — change you in RL?  Do you walk away with anything that survives the light of day when you look up from the page?

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6 thoughts on “Fantasies, dreams and real life

  1. Absolutely. Reading changed so much of how I view the world, and helped me see so much through the eyes of the author, in the story, that I would never have experienced on my own. Even before I ever considered writing, reading helped transform me with journeys, insights, and laughter. It also taught me to question and seek…

    Dreams are awesome too…

    • My whole family has always been about books: trips to the library, a book to remember the vacation or museum, a bookstore visit to spend chore money. I didn’t appreciate what that meant at the time. Hmm, I wonder if my parents would have encouraged such behavior if they knew I’d end up like this!

  2. In a sense, reading hasn’t changed me. I’ve been a voracious reader since I learned how to, but I think it’s taught me, informed me, broadened me.

    Writing has changed me. I no longer go on a walk and think of what I need to do today, etc. I think of my plot, what comes next, how can I torture my H/h.

    As for dreams. I no longer remember mine, like I did when I was younger. Sometimes I’d like to know what was going on in there while I was sleeping.

    • Ella, I know my XY prefers when I’m thinking up ways to torture my h/h rather than him 🙂 Have you tried any dream recall techniques? I know I have way better recall when I “set myself” before bed and when I’m actively keeping a dream journal.

  3. My youthful lament before UF entered my world sphere was that girls didn’t get to keep our make-believe as we grew up. I did romance even less than I do now, but dragon slayers of my childhood were mostly boys, and I somehow made a bitter correlation between that, cop and cowboy make-believe, action adventure movies…

    To cut my babbling short, Emma Bull let me believe that a phucca might demand my presence on a hidden battlefield to decide the fate of two faery armies. Charles de Lint let me believe that something wonderful might be just around the next corner; that my dreams may walk in the world when I’m not looking, and I might just step into their world.

    Not every story means quite so much to me, but even if I’m just really entertained, I think that’s really worth while.

    • An, de Lint was one of my entre authors too — along with Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey — where girls got to change the world too. Quite literally sometimes. I’m psyched that so many stories in kids’ fantasy and YA today have fully realized heroines. Makes buying books for my niece super easy 🙂

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