Nightmares. It doesn’t matter how old you get, they never stop getting at you.
According to Wikipedia:
“A nightmare is an unpleasant dream that can cause a strong emotional response from the mind, typically fear or horror but also despair, anxiety and great sadness. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror.”
I had a nightmare a week or so ago and woke with all the usual sensations. The sick feeling from adrenalin flowing, unused, through my blood. A lingering feeling of despair and fear and loneliness ebbing away slowly as I realised I was awake and the nightmare was over. My first thought as I turned over to go back to sleep was: “I need to write this down.”
You know you are a writer when you want to write down and remember as much as you can about your nightmares instead of allow them to fade away from your memory. As I write mostly horror and scary stuff, I thought it would be a great idea to write down the thoughts and feeling I get upon waking, so I can work on replicating them. As a spin off from the initial exploration, I wrote a poem called Nightmares. I wasn’t looking to describe the sensations but to instil something close to that feeling into the reader.
I think I did a fairly good job, if the first comment to pop up on that post was anything to go by:
“I just got goosebumps in broad daylight.”
Another piece of feedback I get said:
“Hey, I like that – I feel a bit sad reading it and vulnerable however isn’t that what a nightmare is?”
When new writers are told to “write what you know” it can sometimes confuse them. After all, who knows about monsters and magic and evil people on a murderous rampage?
This is what they mean. This is writing about what I know. I may have never faced anything murderous or monstrous during the waking hours, but I have faced them in my nightmares. I know what it is like to run with all my strength to get away from a monster behind me, but never manage to reach that next damned lamppost. I know what it is like to wake up after hiding from ghostly Greek Gladiators in the ruins of a colosseum. Those feelings and emotions are real. They are what I know. So I will write about them and make the things I don’t know feel so much more real for those who read it.
I will also continue to keep a notebook by my bed so I can write down my thoughts and feelings about my dreams and nightmares. If I have to dream about icky scary stuff, then I sure as hell am going to make sure I get something good out of it.