Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2011/ Writing About Dreams

Writing About Dreams

Usually my dreams are boring. My subconscious knows that I am not so smart, so it uses painfully obvious imagery in its dreamscapes. When I am feeling anxious about deadlines my subconscious sends me school dreams: I sign up for a course and then forgot to attend classes, so I will fail and take a zero on my transcript. When I am freaking out about insect infestations my subsconsious sends me dreams about bringing home big comfy chairs full of cockroaches and bedbugs.

But the other day I had a vivid dream. There was a mysterious rabbit-hole in the floor of my apartment. White rats the size of cats were lounging around, and ants the size of golf balls were streaming out of the hole. My job was to go down the hole, don a white mask and play bass guitar in a... wait a minute. This is just as boring as every other dream blog post you have read on the Internet.

Man. Blog entries about dreams are notoriously tedious. But why? One would think that a dream worthy of being blogged would be vivid and exciting -- and indeed the dreamer finds them vivid and exciting. So why do they translate so poorly to the page?

One reason is because (as far as I can tell) our subconscious minds are nonverbal. They speak in images and symbols. Converting those images and symbols to words is difficult. Real writers spend a lot of time learning how to observe the world and describe it in ways that appeal to readers. Writers like me parrot cute phrases we find on the Internet. When we come across phenomena not describable via memes, we are lost.

In addition to imagery dreams are emotional experiences, and conveying emotion effectively is another skill missing from my toolkit. Indeed, the few dream blogposts I have found enjoyable were invariably composed by skillful writers.

What am I trying to say? I'm saying that there's a reason real writers take courses, participate in workshops and develop their craft endlessly, while the rest of us sit around with delusions of publishability. Also I am saying that it's probably for the best that my dreams are usually boring.

UPDATE: Argh. Even my dreams are internet cliches. I swear I was not thinking of that comic when I came up with this entry.