I had a fantastic English teacher in seventh grade. I’d be hard-pressed to remember what we studied, but I do remember that we did a lot of creative writing. Her name was Mrs. Bevan. Outside of school I babysat her toddler son, but in school her class was my very favorite. She’s the one who taught me the value of imagination in writing. I’d like to share a story she shared with our class.
Mrs. B. went through a phase where she was having the most fantastic dreams, filled with all sorts of beautiful lush detail. Her problem was that these ideas, these inspirations, would wake her up at night but come morning they’d all have vanished and try as she might, she couldn’t remember them. In her wisdom she decided to keep a notepad and pencil by the side of her bed so that the next time she had one of these vivid dreams, she could write down everything about it.
A few nights later, she woke up from a dream so rich and filled with imagery that she couldn’t wait to write it down. She picked up her pencil and paper and wrote pages and pages of description: jungles and waterfalls, incredible birds, the way the scene felt and tasted, the things she saw looking around. She took hours, recording it meticulously, safe in the knowledge that once she was done, this was one thing that wouldn’t have been lost to dreams and the subconscious, and went back to sleep.
In the morning she woke up, excited to check and see what she’d done because she remembered writing for what seemed like half the night. She reached for her notepad, turned back the cover, and stared down at the single word oatmeal.
(I guess the moral of the story is either don’t trust your brain in the middle of the night or invest in some sort of recorder or maybe even don’t worry about the imagery from your dreams. If it’s supposed to be there come morning, it will be.)