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Friday, August 19, 2016

Nightmares & Novels by #SandyNachlinger

I’ve always believed that dreams have meaning. After all, they’re stories provided by our own brains, with plots, characters, and settings graciously provided by our own subconscious.  They’ve got to have their roots in something somewhere in our gray matter. I’ve found that sometimes dreams can be interpreted and applied to what’s going on in my life. Of course, the trick is to figure out their message!

Recently, I dreamed I climbed into a plastic capsule—a giant-sized version of those pneumatic tubes used at my bank’s drive-in lanes—with the goal of being transported somewhere in a strange city. An old friend entered her tube ahead of me, gave me a smile, waved, and was whisked away. My claustrophobia made me hesitate. However, my fear of separation from my buddy in an unfamiliar place was stronger than my dread of being enclosed in a small space. So I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and stepped inside the cylinder. The door hissed closed. I opened my eyes, and … nothing happened. Trapped! Just as I’d feared. The walls of the chamber seemed to shrink. My throat closed. I gasped for breath. I pounded the red button. Nothing. The green button? Same result. I scratched at the sides of my transparent cage, screamed… and that’s when I woke up. An hour of aerobic exercise couldn’t have produced a faster heartbeat.


So what does this nightmare mean? Usually I dream of driving my car up a hill that keeps getting steeper and steeper until it’s straight up! That dream seems to occur when I’m in a situation where I need to take control of something that’s happening in my real life. But this pneumatic tube scenario was a new one. What was the dream’s message? My best guess is that the nightmare has to do with a book I’ve been working on for a long time. I’m stuck. Trapped. Seemingly unable to go forward or backward.

After taking a long walk (in the real world of my neighborhood) and thinking about the situation, several possibilities emerged.

 * Try ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to get the book going again! Keep pushing buttons, banging away at whatever comes to mind. Maybe I’ll hit on something worthwhile.  
* Take a deep breath, step back, and closely examine the characters in my story before leaping ahead. Their faults or weaknesses should logically result in problems for them. (Just like my claustrophobia resulted in an out-of-control situation in my dream.) Maybe I don’t know the characters as well as I should.
* Step completely outside of the box I’ve created for my main character. What outrageous thing could happen to her?
* Switch from writing romance to writing sci-fi. Maybe start a story where the characters routinely zip from place to place in pneumatic tubes.

Whatever I decide to do, I sure hope that nightmare doesn’t come again. But if it does, it would be really great if my subconscious would provide an answer to getting me out of that tube before I awaken in a panic.

Do your books invade your dreams or provide inspiration for plots, characters, or settings?

I.O.U. Sex (co-authored with Sandra Allen)



  1. Hey, Sandy, this is so interesting! Great job. A tip. One of my favorite authors descsribed how she had her hero run up stairs, where he "died." Not literally. Died as in stuck. After trying to make him go forward she grabbed him by the shoulders, turned him around and sent him to the street.Story was off and running. she posted a sign on her wall: "When stuck, go into reverse." It works.

    Colleen L. Reece, "Books You Can Trust."

  2. I have no tips just sympathy! *g* I'm a bit claustrophobic so I can understand the anxiety the tube dream instilled. I've also dreamed about driving up a mountain that becomes vertical so that in my dream I'm scared to death of falling over, but I keep going. I won't even go into my claustrophobia dreams. No point in giving your brain suggestions. Good luck in getting unstuck.

    1. It's amazing that you have the same dream as I do about going up a steep hill. I always keep going too! I also agree about claustrophobia dreams. No need to encourage my brain to go there.

  3. Good post, Sandy, and yes, I can usually attribute my dreams to something that's bothering me. My books do invade my dreams, but I haven't been able to solve a story problem . . . yet!

    1. Thanks, Carra. I'm looking forward to the day when my dreams provide more answers than questions.


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