Midnight Blues

science of relationships dot comTwo days ago I woke at 3:30 a.m. with the plot of a short-story in my head. People often ask me where I get the idea for some of the more obscure things I write, and I tell them I literally dream them up. They think I am kidding, but it’s true. Some of my best stories have arrived in the middle of the night–the real trick is to get up, go to the computer and write it down.

After all these years I have learned to do just that.

My husband is used to me getting out of bed and going to work at all hours of the night. How do you sleep when your head is a television? My imagination is killing me, and since I have my main bursts of energy during the strangest times of night, I get a lot done before noon. Anything after that could be a wash-out as I might be napping in an upright position,  a corpse at the keyboard.

dont-tell-people-your-dreams-show-themWhat I do is give the tale a working title, one that will be changed to a better title later.  I write down the basic plot as I remember it, and the characters.

If I had any names in the idea I woke up with, I write them down, otherwise I give them temporary names. I give the environment it’s name and write down the feelings I had of the dream environment.

Then I note every thing else I can remember about it–sounds, tastes, smells–anything that might make the story more real.

Fitzgerald's Fortune Cast of Characters and plot summary pg 1&2In the final outline, most of these things will be boiled down, changed to make a cohesive tale, as  my dreams tend to be quite random.

This is not to say that all my dreams are worth writing about–that is absolutely not the case, although they are often hilarious and sometimes confusing.

Some of my dreams are frightening, and make me go “hmmm….”

The point is, inspiration comes to us from the most random of places. Unfortunately, some of the best story ideas have come to me while driving, and that is a real stinker–there I am on the interstate, and the best plot idea I’ve ever had is fighting for my attention, demanding to be written down–which is definitely not an option at that point!

I am no longer allowed to drive with my laptop propped on the steering wheel, go figure. I have gotten off the highway and sat in a gas-station parking lot, jotting down the idea, on whatever is available. Once it is written down, I can go on my way, and concentrate on driving with no distractions.

270px-Rosetta_StoneUnfortunately, I seldom use my handwriting skills any more–the ease of communicating via the keyboard has eroded that  all-important penmanship I once received high grades for.  Four months later, when cleaning out the car, I will perhaps find a napkin covered in indecipherable chicken-scratches.

If I don’t toss it with the rest of the litter, which is the smart option, I will take it to my office (the infamous Room of Shame) and go over it with a magnifying glass, like Jean-François Champollion trying to decipher the Rosetta Stone.

Nine time out of ten I give up, frustrated; one more glorious idea gone forever, shot to hell in the world of the ephemeral.

Why is there  never a translator of obscure texts around when you need one?


Filed under Adventure, Battles, Books, Fantasy, Literature, Uncategorized, Vegan, writer, writing

9 responses to “Midnight Blues

  1. Oh, yes! I’ve written down dreams that would make perfect stories or even novels, but seldom do my dreams come fully formed that way.
    Then again, there was that one dream which became one of the opening scenes in that notorious treatise on dream and reality known as The Dream Land trilogy. But I digress….
    A few nights ago I got shot by two cops who I thought I had the drop on. Fortunately, I awoke before I bled out. So…good luck with those nightmares, too!


  2. I, too, have woken at strange times in the night with ideas and keep a pad & pen on my bedside table just for recording them. Trouble is, sometimes I wake up and then can’t remember the brilliant story that ran through my head like a movie. Now that IS frustrating!

    Instead of scribbling indecipherably on bits of napkin, check and see if your cell phone has a voice recorder on it. If so, you can speak your thoughts and then you won’t lose them!! 😉


    • My phone may have that, but if it does, I’ve never found it, Also, I don’t have a hands-free device Carlie, or I would, lol! it’s against the law to use your phone in a vehicle unless you have a hands-free device here.


  3. I was also going to suggest the phone, but there is an alternative – you could buy a little Dictaphone instead. Most of my best ideas come while I’m driving as I drive a lot of miles for work, and although nowadays I use the voice recorder on my phone, before I had a smartphone I had a Dictaphone, which I also used in my occasional journalism jaunts. Keep it on the seat beside you and all you need do is press the record button and speak your ideas while you carry on driving. I used mine to record things in press conferences, so distance from the microphone is not a problem.
    If I didn’t have my phone recorder I’d be stopping at every layby to write stuff down and never get where I was going!


  4. Greg Jasperson

    Your I:pod may have a recorder.