Aged seventeen, back when I smoked clove cigarettes, drank vermouth and quoted The Magnetic Fields, I also kept a dream diary. Luckily, the teenaged unconscious output was short and shallow, eg ‘Argued with French cake seller about price of cake.’ Whatever issue I was trying to sort out, cake fixed it (this was true of most of my needs at the time.)
What did happen though is, that the more I documented, the longer and deeper and less cakey the dreams became. They developed in to bloated, technicolor epics as directed by Ridley Scott on billion dollar budgets. Writing them down became such a time hog that I closed the script-room down and the dream book is now somewhere in my parents attic, interesting to no-one (like Indiana’s arc, probably slowly burning a scorch mark on its surface).
I assumed that the trippy nights would go away but they are the multi screen that keeps on giving. Usually I do my best to ignore whatever subliminal message they’re sending me (‘dying hamsters’ always mean I have taken on responsibility beyond my ability).
Occasionally the dream story lines have been used in my writing. Once I copied a dream verbatim into Final Draft. ‘The Third Chair’ as it was dubbed, was eventually bought by Harbour Films (a UK subsidiary of Miramax) on a three-year option. The ‘dream came true’ warped ugly when I later discovered that the easy Third Chair sale was because Miramax was bulk buying any script that might compete with their film ‘The Lovely Bones’ in the ‘Ghost child redemption buddy movie’ catagory.
Of course, the whole dream tic is not an enspecial talent and we know it’s not always entertaining either. The addled algorithms needed in dreams means that reasoning runs slow when you’re picking red newts off your feet.
About a year ago, I was trying to drift off on a lower bunk of the Caledonian Sleeper. Jiggling at 60mph in a tiny room that smells of asbestos gives depth to the randoms that the brain invents. That night – I dreamt I was living in a grand, if dark, Victorian Villa in London. My character had a tastelessly blue satin ball gown and spangly jewellery. AND, what’s more, (and I’m not in charge of the final edit) I was married to Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbourn edition). There was a night stalker on the loose; my husband (Mr H) was certain the burglar would attempt to break in through my bed chamber window. The game was on.
Getting off the train, and taking an unusual route to my usual destination via Euston St, the road was blocked with production crew and about 100 Japanese fan girls. I couldn’t get any sense from the FGs as their phones V height issue was proving to be a group distraction. A grizzly production member gave me a withering ‘It’s only 8:09am and you’re the 70th person to ask me’ look, told me it was a’Sherlock special.’ I quickly deduced that this was not a new hipster breakfast order.
Soaring high above the Japanese FGs, I snappily snapped a photo and went on my way, sometimes passing smug-looking Victorian extras, looking like they had fallen straight out of my dream.
It took the longer part of a year to serve up the Sherlock Special, and – appropriately- the Christmas episode gets a lot of mileage on the tricksiness of dreams, especially when they get mixed up with real life (amid murderous Klan suffragists.)
So I’m still undecided at to whether dreams are a secret peep in to what we’re all thinking but are too afraid to recognise, or – a pile of mash-up nonsense, drained from the mental blender. It is the most boring subject for a blog ever and if it hadn’t been for Cumberbatch et al, I would have kept my mouth shut.
With all this in mind, I’ve decided that it’s about time I write a new book. The new novel will start this summer, The Third Chair. I’m safe from Miramax and now is the time for Dead Child Redemption Buddy Stories. I’ll do it the same insane way, by publishing regular chapters because last time was an absolute nightmare but had a happy ending.