Stephen King is my favorite author. This is less of a declaration than a confession; he’s not that great a writer. His stories are usually long, unedited monsters that draw in unnecessary subplots, and drone on and on with overly expansive writing. As a master of imaginative stories, he expects no imagination from his readers. Stephen King tells me what to think. He tells me everything I need to know about his story. He doesn’t let me draw any conclusions or make any connections on my own.
When I stop to consider my favorite books, there are no King books on the list (although Hearts in Atlantis, a collection of interwoven longish short stories, comes close). My favorite books are about the characters, not the plot. These books are written in concise, even sparse, sentences, paragraphs and chapters. They say as much by what’s left out as by what’s written on the page.
Stephen King’s books have none of this; they simply have an interesting story. Reading Stephen King is like watching TV, it can be really enjoyable if you don’t expect too much from it. Reading is my pastime. Exactly like my coworkers or my kids turn on the TV, log onto Netflix, after a long day, I open a book. The right book relaxes me.
As part of his (sometimes ridiculous) subplots, every Stephen King book I can remember has a section or two that gets bogged down by a description of a main character’s dream. Whenever I hit this part of the story, I roll my eyes, skim through the remainder of the chapter to make sure I’m not missing something, and I return to the real story. Reading about dreams doesn’t interest me, especially fictional dreams. When I’m reading a book and the author describes a dream, I feel like my time is being wasted.
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Much of what I write about comes to me while I’m lying in bed at night. I’ll be barely conscious, my body pinging with relaxation, my mind hearing the voices that speak to me from the edge of sleep. Blindly, I following a train of thought, and I’m suddenly alert. I realize that the topic I’m thinking about would make a good blog post. After a few minutes, I have the same conversation with myself… Every. Time. “Jeff, get up and write this down, you’ll forget it in the morning.”
“No, this I won’t forget, it’s too important.” I convince myself to stay in bed, and most mornings, I’ve forgotten.
Last night, the topic I subconsciously chased was dreams. And despite my lack of interest in reading about dream sequences in books, ignoring the fact that I loathe other writers for relating dreams in their stories, I decided it would be a good idea to write about mine on my blog. But unlike Stephen King, I won’t say what these dreams mean.
A few nights ago, I dreamed that while taking a run, I accidentally tore off my pinkie. It didn’t hurt and it didn’t particularly bother me, but it looked gruesome.
I’m sure I have countless unique dreams like this, but mostly I remember my recurring dreams, which include:
I stumble into a part of my house I didn’t know existed.
The woods and creek at the end of my street growing up become a vast wilderness that I explore.
My home has an evil presence that must be avoided.
I’m trying to walk home from somewhere. I take a route that leads me through strangers’ houses.
There’s a room in my house that can only be reached by passing through a ramshackle attic.
These dreams are all about the exact same thing.
And lastly, since I was a kid, when I’m worried about something, I dream I’m at the beach and huge surf is overtaking the shore. Cars get swept away, cottages get swamped. And people try to ride the waves.
A couple of years ago, I began taking a powerful medication called Risperidone. Doctors give it to schizophrenics to keep them pinned to reality. They give it to people with Tourettes to quiet their tics. The medication includes a caution that vivid dreaming is expected. Why is this cautionary? I see it as a gift.
Previously published on Jefftcann.com.
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