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I blame my insomnia pattern on bad dreams. In college, my dreams were often terrible. I dreamed of nightmarish, Stephen King kind of stuff. I rarely knew anyone in the dreams. I wasn't even a character in most of my own dreams, just an omniscient witness to the horror.
Worse yet, I couldn't rid myself of the dreams. I remember toward the end of my nightmare period, I lived with my friend Kate in a little two bedroom basement apartment. I fell asleep quickly, then. But the dreams began almost immediately. I remember waking myself up. I walked around the apartment, I went to the bathroom. I wandered some more, filled a glass of water, drank it, and shuffled back off to bed. My head hit the pillow and I fell back into the terrible dreams, right where I left off.
In the spring of 1992, I flew to Anchorage, Alaska to visit relatives. There I purchased a Dream Watcher and a Dream Catcher. These items could only be made and sold by a member of an Alaskan tribe--many of the materials were products of traditional hunts. I brought the Watcher and the Catcher home and hung them up. My nightmares ceased.
Later, when insomnia began, it reminded me of those times I awakened myself out of the bad dreams. Only now, I wake up and I can't seem to get back to sleep.
I told this story to my teenage son. Like others before him, he said, "You should write the dreams down, Mom. You could write stories like Stephen King and we would be rich!"
I don't want to write those stories. I don't want to even try. When I write, the story rolls on and on inside my head--all the time. It lurks and pushes through even when I'm concentrating on other things. It plays like a film. I see the scenes and the characters. I can't have a horror story playing in my head all the time. It would make me crazy, terrifyingly crazy.
Pieces of the dreams found their way into my first novel, Leaning. There's even one violent scene I tried really hard not to write. I softened the first version of the scene, changing the movie in my head. It didn't work though, so I rewrote it. I finally wrote the scene in my head and the rest of the story poured out.
The characters in this novel have some perplexing, vivid dreams and some scary ones, too. (Don't worry, when I write of a dream I don't disguise it as reality. You know it's a dream as you read.) There is even a Dream Catcher, because I believe in the protection it provides.
My Dream Catcher eventually just fell apart. I tried to replace it but the insomnia and some of the dreams persist. I think I've been buying knockoffs, not the real thing. I believe a real Dream Catcher must be made by a Native American in a traditional way--not just anyone can reproduce the magic of a Dream Catcher.
What do you dream?
I will post a new blog in the insomnia series titled Up, Up, and Awake every other week. I may occasionally add to the blog series my dreams. My dreams have mellowed; they're not as terrifying as they once were.
I'm careful not to post anything I plan to include in my next novel, but I still don't want to write the story of the dreams although I now consent to write the dreams themselves. If I have dream blogs to post, they will go up between the Insomnia posts.
What do you dream?



11/30/2011 18:27

I dream very vivid crazy dreams, but usually not scary unless I am getting or am sick.

I think you need to seek out another Dream Catcher.
I look forward to reading about your dream adventures. I think Cole is RIGHT. Maybe they have a place somewhere, you just don't know where yet.....

11/30/2011 22:20

Hi! We're following each other on Twitter. I stopped by to read some of your blog. My mother is very connected with our Cherokee roots in NC, and she goes to the Blue Ridge Mountains every summer to work there...has for years. She has several dream catchers that have been made through the tribe and blessed by the medicine man. And, she frequents the sweat lodge there. She would affirm your post and your belief in the medicine of the catchers. I have been blessed with vision dreams, so I don't do anything to block or "catch" my dreams. They come as they will, surrounded by blessings. But, I understand you very well. :]
It's so nice to make your acquaintance this way. Thanks for tweeting a follow to me!

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