On Monday night I had a dream within a dream, within a dream.
- I dreamt that I was sleeping. (1)
- I woke up thinking that no. 1 was a real night’s sleep and that it was 11:30 am on a workday. I had overslept. (2)
- What felt like a few moments later, I woke up, realising that no. 2 was just a dream and that I was still on time. I got up, went through the motions of my normal routine and walked to the bus stop. Next, I met a colleague on the bus (which in itself, is unusual) and I told him about the dream I had just had. (3)
- Moments later (or so it felt), I woke up for the last time (I am convinced) and went about my day as normal, telling this story to colleagues. (4)
I was writing the start of this post at the end of no. 4.
I could ponder this for days. But I won’t, just in case it’s a waste of time and I wake up again (kidding).
The most interesting part, was that each dream-version felt both real at the time, and like a dream, as soon as I progressed to the next dream and eventually, reality.
Now, as I consider the rewrite of a scene of my FINAL draft (those who know me will know that I hate all-caps), I’m considering my editor’s comments about the fact that this scene, which happens to be a ‘dream’ scene, seems too realistic.
Wait a minute… Provided the point-of-view allows it – if we would like the reader to experience whatever the protagonist experiences, and the protagonist doesn’t know the difference between dreaming and reality until she wakes up, why is this an issue?
I get it. We don’t want to confuse our readers.
But doesn’t a little confusion encourage curiosity? And if what is perceived as realistic to one reader is not necessarily realistic to another – where is the inception of reality and where does it end? And who decides?
In fiction, it’s the writer.
In life – I think I need to sleep on it.