Whenever I start editing or have a deadline approaching, I start having dreams. Not dreams of success or staring up at copies of my finished books. (I have those dreams, too, but then I’m typically awake and staring off into the distance.) No, these are nighttime, wake you up, tense dreams.
The latest had terminators in it. Not the Schwarzenegger versions, but newer, even meaner ones. They hunted me and I hid in the second floor of a bookstore. But I couldn’t get away because some of the terminators had broken into the first floor and others had surrounded the building. It’s a new version of an older dream I used to have where Freddy Krueger of ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ fame used to chase me around my living room.
I’ve had other dreams where I’m in a high rise in Atlantic City – on the fortieth floor – and the ocean waves are so huge the water is hitting against the windows and the panes start to crack. Sometimes, though, I’m in Oak Island, NC, in a rental house. I see the waves in the distance. They get closer and closer, and bigger and bigger, until they break over the house.
Then there’s the ‘War of the Worlds” type dream. In it, I’m me, but not me. I’m in a closed off bunker hiding away from the invading alien force that’s overtaken the planet. Only after years of being stuck inside, supplies have run out and I (and my bunker mates) have to venture out. Then we start fighting aliens only there are about ten of us and a billion of them. I’ve also had a similar dream where an invading human army has overtaken the world.
There’s a hopelessness to these dreams, but I never stop running. I suppose writing and revising are similar. The tasks can seem so overwhelming at first but bit by bit I get them done.
Sometimes, I’ve fallen back asleep too soon and the dreams continue in a long, meandering way. In the Oak Island one, the houses were destroyed, the island was flooded, and I wandered through the water looking for survivors. In the alien one, the bunker people and I found and joined the resistance.
Actually, the terminator and Freddy Krueger ones weren’t that scary. In them, I just felt frustrated. I wanted them to stop chasing me. Just like those deadlines.