Neither Here Nor There (The World of the In-Between)

As I sit down to write this post, night has fallen with a warm, humid embrace on the hills of east-central Vermont.  In a few hours, I’ll lie down and go to sleep.

 

And dream.  Do you dream?  I suppose everybody does.  The real question is–do you remember your dreams?  I don’t–at least, not often.  But sometimes . . . sometimes, I do.  Especially a specific type of dream . . .

To back up for a moment–I have always been fascinated with dreams.  Science has studied them for decades, yet–do we really understand them?  Do we know why they sometimes seem so random, and other times so prescient, even supernatural?  And do we understand the makeup of our dreams, the weird, uneven settings, timelines, hops, skips, warps, mental wormholes?  And do we even know what dreams are?  Are they strictly the nighttime musings of the subconscious?  Or are they more?  A visitation from a spirit, perhaps?  A foreshadowing of a future event?  A glimpse into a parallel world?  Who’s to say?

 

Readers of The Eye-Dancers may recall that the book opens with a dream sequence (that ends up being far more than a mere dream sequence).  Mitchell Brant dreams of the “ghost girl,.”  It’s a dream I, myself, had had years earlier.  Upon waking from it, I jotted down the pertinent notes, in a state of frenzy, knowing that the details might work themselves into a story at some future point,  Thanks to Mitchell, they did.

 

Dreams can be like that–they can offer such rich detail, such raw emotion, such remarkable scenes and events that they are begging to be memorialized on the written page.  But, again, how many of our dreams do we forget?  How many nocturnal adventures do we undertake that never register in our conscious mind?

This leads me back to type of dream I alluded to at the start of this post–the kind of dream I am much more likely to recall, in vivid detail, upon waking.  I think of it as the in-between dream, a murky, shadowy state where we have one foot in our dreams and one foot in the conscious world.  A state of half-and-half, of here and there, of sleep and awakeness.

 

It is an interesting place to be . . . and it most often occurs in the predawn hours.  I am an early riser–not by choice (I am naturally a night person), but by necessity.  Generally, I am up and at ’em by 5:30 a.m. each day.  And so my in-between period occurs in the minutes directly beforehand.  True, some mornings, I am nowhere near the in-between; I am in full-on sleep mode, and am only roused by the piercing, shrieking whine of the alarm.

 

Many mornings, however, in those still, quiet hours before dawn, when the day itself is in a state of in-between, not quite night and not quite day, I am vaguely aware.  Aware that I’m half-asleep but not all the way asleep, aware that I will need to get up shortly and be productive.

But I am also, often, dreaming during this time, and, though half-awake, I have no control over the events unfurling before me in my mind’s eye, a moving, weaving tapestry that might be horrifying or weird or otherworldly (but rarely joyous or carefree).  The action proceeds on its own accord, taking me along for the ride.  Recently, I dreamed, in this half-awake, half-asleep state, that I was in an old house, upstairs, in bed, and a storm was moving in.  The house was unfamiliar–I haven’t a clue why I dreamed of it.  But suddenly, there was a flash of lightning across the street, a darkening of storm clouds, and a feeling of imminent peril.  The next moment, the lightning struck the roof above me, and the tiles from the ceiling rained down on me, as I sat bolt upright, feeling the fury of the elements.  In the dream, I felt air.  A hole in the ceiling!  A bird fluttering above, the storm, enveloping the house just moments ago, now a memory, an echo, a whisper.

 

And consider:  While I dreamed all of this, while I was held hostage by the tempests of my mind, I was aware I was dreaming it.  I lay in bed, feeling tense, nervous.  What would happen next?  It was like watching a scary movie, afraid to keep your eyes on the screen.  The best way to describe it is as an out-of-body experience–realizing that, in reality (whatever that means), I was safe in my own bed, but also lost in the dream, feeling the dream, aware of it even as it happened, with no idea where it would lead, heartbeat quickening, traveling along the pathways and avenues of the in-between.

 

Have you ever experienced that?  That murky, shadowy world where you are at once awake and at once asleep, experiencing a universe far away while also knowing that you are lying in your bed, beneath the covers, the predawn air filtering in through the window, the sounds of the nocturnal creatures rustling from the grass and the trees?

To me, it is a similar phenomenon as writing a first draft of a story when the words are flowing.  You are the author, the writer, the creator, so you’re in control, right?  Well, not really.  Think about it.  When you are writing a scene, and your characters are talking, chewing the mozzarella, advancing the plot.  Do you know, in advance, what John will say to Kathleen on the next page?  Do you know what Jay will ask Jennifer?  Maybe in a broad, general sense, you do.  (Or maybe you don’t.)  But specifically, word for word.  Where does the dialogue come from?

 

Or what about the narrative itself, the thousands upon thousands of words that compose a novel?  Sure, you may have a general outline.  You may even have a detailed one.  But if you’re going to write 80,000 words, how many of those words do you know in advance?  Precious few.  And if you were to think about all of this before starting, worry about the muse and the well of words and ideas, you may cripple yourself and deep-six the project at the outset.

Creativity is all about faith.  Trust.  Belief.  A conviction that, if you have the courage to take that first step, and write that first sentence, the next word, the next sentence, the next paragraph will follow–and it will follow almost as if on its own accord, the words and dialogue and descriptions emanating from a mysterious and undefinable realm that cannot be controlled or defined.  It just is.  It exists.  And, as authors, it is our job to access it, delve into it, and get lost in it.

 

So, the next time you find yourself in bed, lost in the world of the in-between–even if in said world there’s a lightning storm overhead and your roof is about to collapse–settle in, lie back, and just appreciate the story.

 

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. joannerambling
    Jul 31, 2020 @ 05:08:41

    I dream most nights if not every night if only I could remember more of my dreams.

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Jul 31, 2020 @ 12:53:53

      Indeed.:) I always wish I could remember every one. And then, after waking up, maybe jot down the summary of each one. And, over time, look for any patterns. It would be really interesting. But more often than not, I also do not remember them.

      Reply

  2. Teagan R. Geneviene
    Jul 31, 2020 @ 13:08:28

    I hope they were sweet dreams, Mike. Happy writing — and dreaming. Hugs on the wing!

    Reply

  3. CrimsonCorundum
    Jul 31, 2020 @ 14:06:11

    I sometimes remember my dreams, sometimes not. It depends on whether I’ve slept well or not or if I’m allowed to wake up and not get awakened by the children. I’m sometimes aware of dreaming towards the end of the dream when I’m about to wake up. Unfortunately, never throughout the whole dream.

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Aug 04, 2020 @ 10:40:30

      I wish I could remember more of my dreams, too. It’s usually only these “in-between” ones that I do. The in-the-middle-of-the-night-in-a-deep-sleep-variety I rarely remember upon waking. I wish I did.:)

      Reply

  4. Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner
    Jul 31, 2020 @ 17:04:23

    Sometimes I wonder if THIS is the dream and the dream is the reality. Hpow wild would that be? 🙂

    Reply

  5. magarisa
    Aug 02, 2020 @ 20:03:02

    Another wonderful post. Yes, I often have lucid dreams. Last night, while I was talking to someone in my dream, I recalled that he’d passed away years before. Still, I kept dreaming and was grateful for the chance to see him again.

    On a separate note, I have finally submitted a review for Eye Dancers on Amazon. Hopefully, it will be posted in the next few days.

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Aug 04, 2020 @ 10:43:00

      Thanks so much! I will definitely look forward to seeing your review.:) Thank you. And dreams are remarkable things–much more remarkable, I think, than people often give them credit for.

      Reply

  6. Lyn
    Aug 03, 2020 @ 09:06:39

    My Fit Bit tracks my sleep and tells me I dream most nights. The dreams I remember are nearly always the weirder type. For example, my kids and I (we were all a lot younger) were walking along a beach. Suddenly Federation Troopers were charging towards us on horses. We started running and the next minute, Victor Borge appeared playing a grand piano. He told us to jump up on top of the piano and he played The Flight of the Bumble Bee. The faster he played, the faster the piano moved along the sand. Weird? Definitely, but so much fun 😀

    Reply

  7. foodinbooks
    Aug 04, 2020 @ 09:52:27

    A fascinating post. I remember some of my dreams but they tend to fade the more I am in the conscious world. The dreams that tend to stay with me the most are the ones where, as you so eloquently describe, where you feel like you are half still in the dream and half in the waking world. I read somewhere that it’s possible to train your brain to remember dreams, though I don’t know how true that is. And like you, I wake up very early each morning so sleeping late and having more dreams really doesn’t happen. I’ve noticed as I get older, that if I wake up too early and go back to sleep, the dreams I have in that REM state are incredibly vivid.

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Aug 04, 2020 @ 10:46:35

      Thank you! Very glad you enjoyed this.:) If there’s a way to train your brain to remember dreams, I will definitely need to look into that! I am sure I forget a very large percentage of my dreams, which seems a shame. I find dreams to be unendingly fascinating. I think they will always remain something of a mystery.

      Reply

  8. Ste J
    Aug 04, 2020 @ 15:30:23

    Stories are the greatest thing in the world, inegral to our survival as well as entertainment. Some dreams would make for very strange reading material to say the least…

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Aug 06, 2020 @ 02:32:09

      They certainly would! It seems a shame that we forget so many of our dreams. It would be fascinating to be able to look at the patterns night after night after night. I actually have a new novel idea brewing, and it deals heavily with dreams. I am endlessly fascinated by them.

      Reply

      • Ste J
        Aug 06, 2020 @ 09:30:41

        News of novel ieas is always something to take the edge of a low period, I look forward to future updates bu no pressure, there’s enough of that going about without me getting involved.

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