Blog by Yessica Maher, los Angeles Native.

She explores life after marriage, starting a career in her late 30's, relationships, breaking cycles of abuse, online dating, self care, fertility and depression. 

It's all over the place, but so is living. 

The Connection Between Dreaming and Creative Writing


In my early 20's I had vivid dreams every night.  I would wake up and scribble every detail in a spiral one subject notebook. Sometimes they made no sense whatsoever.  Other times, I'd wake with clarity and my problems became puzzle pieces that fell into place. When they really had me guessing, I'd usually turn to the internet for a search and answers. These searches would tease out deeper meaning hidden in my psyche.

When I was pregnant my vivid dreams usually involved lesbian sex.  I learned to just laugh at those and enjoy them for what they were.  While I'm not a fan of girl kisses, my sleeping mind wasn't against them at all. I carried so many boys in my Momma belly, it might have been their hormones.  The girls I carried shared enough of their hormones to give me pimples and horrible morning sickness.

I will carry the DNA of every child I carried in my womb for the rest of my life, circulating in my bloodstream.  For this reason, if you've ever carried a boy, don't bother taking a gender identity test that isolates male DNA.  It'll give you a false positive. Wait for a torpedo in the ultrasound when you go for the organ survey around 20 weeks.

For the last several years, I couldn't remember dreaming at all.  There's a definite correlation between my ability to write and my ability to be aware of any dreams.  I couldn't write for a long time.  At one point, I couldn't line up a paragraph and in frustration I would scrap it in tears.

There were many times that I'd start a journal and my husband would find it and read it and be hurt and depressed by it.  I hid them in the bottom of drawers and under mattresses. I taped them along the wall in our closet. Writing was a way to dump my anger, doubts and frustrations without lashing out at others.  He would later read my vitriol and internalize it.  Sometimes we'd talk.  Sometimes what I wrote would come back as a weapon against me in an argument at a later date.  Other times, it came out as anger or frustration that I would focus so intently on reading or writing that I wasn't able to give him or the kids my full attention.

In one of my many bids to win him back, I destroyed journals I had poured myself into that spanned more than two decades. I'm not upset about that.  There was a lot of anger in them, and destroying them changed how I write.  Changing how I write was able to shift my perspective, and I'm happier for it. Although, in my early journaling days, I was full of male bashing jokes.  Bad male bashing jokes.  I miss the laugh. I would write the word, "platypus," and giggle for a few minutes.  My favorite insults were "hamster penis," "vulture vomit," "penis dribble," and "chicken weenie." And no, chickens don't have weenies. I love it that most days I can slip back into that teenaged me, and be silly and make people think I'm a decade younger than I am.  I can dance through a song while focusing on work because I can find that joy and silliness.  It's never far from me.  My anger is.  I have most of the poems I've written throughout my life. The darkness that filled every moment is far from me.  I like who I am now, and I love that I'm not far from the silliness I used to live in, but it's been a long while since I've told someone they were being a hamster penis.

Part of loving being a student majoring in English was that I had an excuse to have to read and write.  A grade depended on that and my performance would later be monetized. In theory.  Still waiting on that one.  I am not a fan of most literature taught in college courses.  It was typically dry and boring.  It took 4 valiant attempts to get through Moby Dick and I was proud of getting through it, but didn't feel like I would ever want to read it again.  Children's literature with the undercurrent of moral teaching and sexual perversion was more interesting than I anticipated.  You should read Little Red Riding Hood with me.  It will scar you in your childhood dreams.

The other side of being a student and using school as an excuse for my bookish fix is that there wasn't room for creativity.  I would read countless dull literary masterpieces during the quarter, and on breaks go through several young adult paranormal romances because my brain needed the downtime, but I couldn't plot and plan a story.  I'm more of a pantser anyway, and there are major plot holes when I don't outline.  I tend to see them around the 40,000 word mark and scrap my manuscript and start over.  When I do plan, the writing bores me to the point that I hate revision, and if I don't want reread what I've written, it's ballsy to expect anyone to want to read it the first time through. This has happened at least six times. For some reason every time I read Twilight, I feel like I can be a writer.  I can do what she did there.  Then I read Harry Potter and know I'm not ready to create worlds, and "kill my darlings," as Stephen King has said or written.

So now I'm writing.  Most of what I'm writing is getting published in these blog posts.  Some of it stays private.  I haven't started on a book yet, because I can accept I'm just not there yet.  My prose isn't achingly beautiful.  My thoughts are still chaotic.  But I'm writing, and with the words, dreams are teasing my resting mind, and lingering each morning.  It's as if by writing, I've given myself permission to access the forbidden ideas held in check by fear of hurting my husband's feelings.  It's as if I have permission to work through issues and grow emotionally.  And I have.  You might not see it, but I do.

The best part is the way my mind can trail in opposite directions.  I woke up one morning on the tail end of a sexual dream.  It was tender and beautiful and not about my husband.  As the ephemeral tail of a lingering touch lost its substance, words filtered through my mind, with venom and angst about the wife I was and the many ways he took my giving heart for granted.  I was angry that I did it at my expense in the names of love and obedience, and his exit was about finding the happiness he deserved. They were such opposite thoughts, and they overlapped and still made sense.  As overwhelming as all of those emotions were, I didn't feel overwhelmed in the least.  I could evaluate both what my mind saw, and the words filtering through my mind with my eyes still closed.  It was epic.

I've started lucid dreaming where in the middle of a vivid dream, I know I'm dreaming.  I'm aware that what is occurring is happening in my sleep.  Or sometimes I'm on the verge of drifting off and I'll feel a dream trying to pull me in and I haven't fallen asleep yet. Most recently, I was drifting off and a gentle hand on my shoulder was pulling me back for a kiss, and it was so real and not real that it woke me up.  It was awesome.

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