Tag Archives: nightmare


I woke last night at about three thirty a.m. straight out of a terrifying dream. For long minutes afterwards I was convinced that noises I was hearing in my room, and from the road outside, were part of the dream-vision I’d just been wrapped up in, and it took me a long time to separate them out into their constituent parts. My own breathing. The thud of my heartbeat. A single, trilling song from a solitary (and early rising!) bird somewhere outside. A distant motorbike engine.

Not voices screaming for help. Not the boom of an explosion. Not the cracking of bones.

I’d dreamed I was in the middle of a warzone, and I was being followed. There were guns. There were rocket launchers. There were bodies, and downed planes, and a man with a wide-brimmed hat, his face in shadow, who was everywhere. He had a low-pitched voice and a sardonic tone, and he knew I could never outrun him. There were razor-topped fences too tall to climb, dotted with gates too far apart (and which were locked, in any case), which led me, funnelled like an animal to slaughter, down to the killing fields along with hundreds of other people. Our fate was sealed.

Photo Credit: Takeshi Kawai via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Takeshi Kawai via Compfight cc

This dream was too easy to picture. I see images like this every single day. The news headlines, the papers, the internet, even movies; all of them fed into it. I know having a dream about a situation like this pales in comparison with actually living through it, and I’m not trying for a second to suggest they’re the same thing, but I wonder in some ways whether we’re not all under siege, no matter where we live. If we’re not experiencing these terrors first-hand, we’re experiencing them through our media, 24/7, burning out our minds as we attempt to come to terms with what’s happening in other parts of the world, wearing ourselves thin as we realise that there’s nothing we can do. People are dying, every single day, in abject horror, and there’s nothing we can do.

And I wouldn’t want to swap with them. Not for anything. And that makes me feel like the worst sort of human being.

It took me a long time to fall back to sleep. I was afraid of re-entering that same dream; this happens to me, sometimes. I preferred to lie awake, listening to the night, than to slide back into that dark world. As a result, I’m a bit less than my best today, but at least the dreadful terror passed with the rising sun. The world is back to normal, now. I am lucky, and I know it. For many hundreds of thousands of people the nightmare never ends. I wish, with everything I have, that it wasn’t so.

I’m not the kind of person who thinks dreams ‘mean’ something (as in, they’re not prophetic, or in any way significant, of course – they’re just a by-product of the processes of your mind), but I do think they can reveal a lot about how you’re thinking and feeling. In my case, then, I shudder to think what my dream reveals. It’s strange how you can be living your life, feeling reasonably okay (and having had a great weekend, during which your country felt like Carnival, with the beautiful weather to match!), and yet your mind finds a way to tell you that there’s fear, and doubt, and anxiety, deep inside you which needs to be expressed. I feel rather like a fraud these days: I’m not particularly happy with most of what I’m writing, and the bits I am happy with are going so slowly that they’re practically glacial. My other work is better left unmentioned. I’m worrying about my future, again, and where I’m going – not to mention where the world is going.

Perhaps this dream was a useful wake-up call, in more ways than one. It’s not good to keep trundling on regardless; it’s not good to squash away your fears and stresses, expecting them to just go away. I’ve seen before that this doesn’t work, and I have no idea why I keep doing it.

So, here’s what I’ve learned: I don’t have to write at the speed of the wind just because other writers do. I don’t have to compare myself with anyone else. I don’t have to work in a particular way. I don’t owe anyone anything.

Well, that’s not quite right. I owe myself the sanctity of a peaceful mind. I owe the world my best self. I owe my work – all forms of it – my utmost effort. I owe my mind its best chance at uninterrupted sleep. But I don’t have to explain myself or account for my existence, or feel like an unworthy person. I am not being hunted.

And now. I all calmness and control, it’s time to get back to work.


I woke up this morning tangled up in my sweaty sheets, looking a lot like a panicked sausage roll, in the grips of a nightmare so real that it took at least a minute to clear fully from my mind. The horror of it paralysed me, and my heart was thumping so hard that I thought it would burst. I found it hard to catch my breath. The last image from my terrible dream lingered in front of my eyes like the distant shimmer of the Aurora Borealis.

I dreamed…*deep breath* I dreamed that Stephen King was just about to publish a book with the same title and plot as my WiP. They were making a movie out of it, and I even dreamed I saw the TV ad for the movie – this was the last image in my nightmare, the shimmery one that hung in front of my eyes – and I woke up screaming, internally, at the unfairness of it all. I told my husband, who very sensibly muttered ‘It’s not really his type of book, though, is it?’ (I don’t think he was too impressed by my angst at that ungodly early hour of the morning); after a few moments, the logic of this settled into my mind, and I calmed down a bit.

I didn’t calm down entirely, though – when I came downstairs the first thing I checked was Stephen King’s Wikipedia page. He has lots of things in the works, but (phew) nothing that even remotely resembles the story I’ve spent the last God-knows-how-long bleeding and labouring over. I’m not, in any way, trying to suggest that what I’m working on is of Stephen King’s standard; I’m not even sure why my mind picked that particular author to torment itself with. I’m a huge fan of King, but I haven’t read anything by him for quite a while. I think the last thing I read by him was ‘Under the Dome’, back when it was first published a few years ago. I *loved* it, right up until the very end, when the reason for the existence of the Dome is revealed. At that point, I wanted to throw the book against a wall, but I was afraid of damaging it. The wall, I mean, not the book. (Have you seen the size of ‘Under the Dome’?)

Anyway. I guess all the dream really signifies is that 1) I can’t get this book out of my mind, and 2) I am really, deeply, devotedly attached to it. Neither of these things are bad – in fact, I should be glad to feel like this, still. I know I’ve only been writing this story for a few months, but like I’ve said before the story has been in my brain for a long, long time. If I was a normal person, I’d be sick and tired of it by now. I read a lovely blog post this morning about writing the book you want to write, and how it’s a good thing if your book is in your mind all the time, and you can’t stop yourself thinking about your characters; it couldn’t have been more timely, really.

I’ve had a fortifying cup of coffee, and now I’m just about ready to start work again. I have a ream of notes here, made yesterday when I was away from my desk – every few seconds something about the book would occur to me, and I’d have to scramble for pen and paper, or my phone, in order to write something down. Thankfully I’m not relying entirely on my colander-like memory to preserve all the things I want to remember, and all the important details that need to be added to the book. At this rate, my WiP will be leaving ‘Under the Dome’ in the shade in terms of length (but hopefully it’ll have a less frustrating ending!) I’m just over half-way through my third edit, so soon it’ll be time to print myself a hard copy and swan around with my MS under my arm for a bit, just because I can.

I hope you’re all having a less manic day than I am, and that all things are well wherever you are. How is everyone’s Thursday going?