Oh me-oh, oh my-oh, oh Cleveland Ohio…
Man I love The West Wing, but you know what? I don’t think I love it enough to dream about it. Especially as I haven’t watched any episodes in a good year or so. Despite that, the other night, I dreamt about The West Wing. Not a particular episode of The West Wing you understand, rather the whole universe of the show. I even referenced an old episode when our political opponents pulled a particular trick, and our side was grumbling. I said “well it worked for us, so why shouldn’t they try?” to a very aggrieved Sam Seaborn.
Even in my dream, I knew I was in a television show, but it was also the real world, and that was fine. Seemed perfectly logical to me. As did the bit of the dream where I was trying to persuade a grumpy American publisher to publish my authors book by getting the author to bully him into homing a stray dog… Then humiliating him by giving the dog to a friendly homeless couple… Oh, and this was set in a bizarre amalgam of Oxford, Glastonbury and Street.
Because that all makes PERFECT sense, right?
Yeah, not really. Which gets me to my point – describing dreams is hard, almost impossibly so. Always the truth that you saw and experienced behind your eyes slips away till you only hold a bare ghost in your fingertips. And that is what writing is. You have the idea and the story shouting in your head, but whatever you finally get down on the page is the palest of reflections.
Right now I’ve got one poor characters death scene fixed, vividly in my brain. I’m trying to get it out and into the draft, but it keeps fighting me. It’s so upsetting in my head, I don’t want to keep going back into it to get the fine details. So I sketch over it, and then when I read it back I can’t tell if it is making a clear image in my mind because I am writing it well, or if the words are just an aide memoire, and my memories are filling in the blanks.
But isn’t that what all reading is? Filling in the blanks, interpreting the spaces in an authors work with your own experiences and desires?