Dreams So Real You Want To Shout At Your Sleeping Spouse

My poor husband John has no idea how close I was this morning to giving an indignant shout of,  ‘ How could you ‘ when I was waking this morning with one foot still firmly in the tight grip of a vivid dream of betrayal. Even though my dream husband was not John and in fact no one I even recognize, the fury and shock I felt in my sleepy state made me pull away from the dear man sleeping next to me.

Being a vivid dreamer is a bonus for writers and I frequently make notes after a busy night especially if it feels like my subconscious has presented me with a little gift of insight or some seed of a story and I searched for the details as I was waking up trying as best I could to commit them to memory.

Last nights journey down the path of marital infidelity seemed like a bit of both insight and story on reflection this morning. Stay with me while I try to explain. Over the last few days, I have been working on a short story that I originally wrote in the third person which according to more than a few folks I’ve read, is not the best way to write one if you hope to have it published.

I do understand the concept of how writing in the first person is designed to be more immediate putting you directly in the middle of things in a way that writing in the third person cannot and why it works well when telling a tale with less words, but I think I usually prefer the options that third person point of view offers. I have seen it done successfully with both the novels and short stories of writers who have managed to publish, but they are all pretty recognizable names and I have to wonder what happens to the rest of us (the unpublished) who may choose another way.

As I have struggled to shift the point of view in my short story rewrite, I have been challenged in a way that I think has provided a good mental exercise regardless of which version I send out the door. In a world where many of us can get bogged down in one-way, right way, my way or the highway kind of thinking, changing my story has begun a subtle shift in my characters as well.

For example, when I woke from my dream and began going over the details imagining how my character (who looked just like me only with a bad eighties hairstyle) might have responded had I not cut the storyline short by waking up, I found myself shifting the dream reaction into a much more interesting and creative outcome.

Granted the point of view was not affected, but in much the same way that I am giving myself the freedom to play with point of view in my current work, it seems to be having a positive effect on my creative process providing me with more options than the typical ones we think of when faced with an all too familiar plot of infidelity and betrayal.

Additionally, while I learned a few more things about staying open to the different perspectives possible for my characters, it was also interesting to note that when my waking body language tried to pull away this morning, I woke to find John’s hand wrapped gently around my wrist as if even in sleep he was saying, ‘ Don’t go.’

10 thoughts on “Dreams So Real You Want To Shout At Your Sleeping Spouse

  1. First person seems to be hot right now, and it is immediate, but I agree with you on third person (though I’m not so good at doing that myself when I take on fiction). Still, it’s good to try things from various angles — including how one interprets/digests one’s dreams!

    The image of John’s hand wrapped gently around your wrist even in sleep (as you were in the midst of this infidelity dream) was perfect.

  2. Jennifer ~ It was the strangest thing to realize that he was holding on and I wondered for a moment as I was waking up if he could feel my pulse racing from the leftover shock and anger at the events in my dream.

    I didn’t share my dream or even discuss it with him until after he read my post and he said he had no idea he was holding on to me in his sleep until he read it there.

  3. I am struggling w/ POV right now, too, although with my Children’s book. One editor suggested I switch it up a bit, and I became confused and a bit overwhelmed. then I found a very helpful book called ‘The Power of Point of View-make your story come to life” by Alicia Rasley. You should definitely check it out. Great resource!
    Good Luck!

  4. Last night my husband started building a full size swimming pool with slabs of cake and tried to fill it with wobbly jelly. The kids kept jumping in it and I was trying to keep them out telling them we needed to eat it later. Then I fostered two kids who swam in the ocean not knowing there was a shark circling them and I was too far away to help. My dream ended with a criminal ringing me for medical advice about kidney stones because if they went to the hospital they would be arrested.
    … And I wonder why I wake up tired every morning?!

    Hope you have forgiven John!

  5. Gina ~ I would be exhausted too with dreams like that. I wonder if maybe you need a snack before bedtime because with cake dreams like that you sound hungry.

    John jokingly said tonight that he hoped the people in our village who read my blog would read it all the way through and not be confused as to who was actually unfaithful in my dream.

  6. Interesting post, Elizabeth! Have you done a full interpretation yet? I love the symbolism in dreams and trying to figure out what my subconscious is trying to tell me.

    There are a couple of schools of thought on dream interpretation: one is that everyone in your dream is you, which puts a lovely spin on things; the other is that it’s all symbolic and representative of your current issues or relationships (I’m sure there are more, but that’s all I’ve learned about thus far).

    In either case, both should make for good writing!

  7. My favorite creative writing teacher once quoted another during a workshop. “Revision revises,” she said.

    As a writer and editor, I can attest to that fully. I, too, went through the exercise you describe—of going from third person to first person point of view in a novel I wrote several years ago after an editor of mine suggested it. The idea revolted me—primarily because it meant I would really have to think about how I felt about the topic instead of simply telling a story about a host of characters into whose heads we could only partially go.

    Now, I am unable to write comfortably in any other point of view, but as I look back (I kept the early versions just for posterity’s sake), I see now how very dicey third-person writing can be. In a world where everyone on the airwaves and internet are convinced he or she knows another’s thoughts and motives, writing as an observer or narrator without projecting onto your characters emotions they may or may not feel, thoughts they may or may not have, is tough—even if we recognize that the person we are describing is us.

    What a lovely post to describe the revision of you that the revision of your short story gave rise to! I have subscribed to your blog and look forward to it.

    Are you from Georgia? I saw in one of your earlier blogs that you went to UGA, but I haven’t poked around…

  8. My dream stories are some of my favorite, although they’re actually dream rough outlines. Waking up with such deeply realistic ‘memories’ always begs for the pad and pencil by the bed. I write furiously to capture the action, descriptions, and the subcontextual (think I just made that word up) feelings that rarely come out in the oral re-telling. After killing pages with scribbled ideas, I sit there exhausted, nearly too tired to start the day.

    Being ‘a writer’ is a job I gladly lay at the feet of others. Good luck on the story.

  9. I’ve often gone to sleep with a writing challenge on my mind and woken up with the problem solved.

    I, too, love the image of John holding onto you, whether he remembered it or not.

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