How do you find your best ideas? One of the ways I find my stories is through lucid dreams right before I wake up. In and out of consciousness, I’d follow my characters, sometimes become them, and refuse to wake up so I could finish the adventure. The frustrating part is that they never seem to FINISH, so I would force myself to write the stories into completion as soon as I woke up.
I used to keep a physical journal, then an electronic one, then these dwindled to post-its and a few scribbled notes. Here are just a few of the floating universes that I pulled into my stories:
Zombie Apocalypse. If you pretend to be a zombie, they come inside and commune with you instead of eating you. Rickety old outside buildings with many levels. Loved ones taken on characteristics of what they were when alive, when not eternally eating or consuming.
Start finding African cousins in between alarm screams. The world turns slowly, flooded.
With Isaiah, together but not together. Listening to music, touch but not touch. Staring at three windows in grassy field. Three orange chairs facing the windows. Birds came in my window. Cockatiel calling outside. Toucan got caught and I tried to free it. It got distracted by shiny things. Bit my earring and bracelet. The green bracelet broke so I threw all the beads into a pile of more beads from other broken strings.
Lots of snow.
I was getting a house to rent with two guys from work. I went over and it’s still furnished with stuff from people who had died. Old chair, stone porch, piles of paper, overgrown yard. I was organizing and having a good time, but overwhelmed. Brother stayed over with me. He fed and watered my horse in the back shed. There was a second shed that was attached to the parlor. Woke up to messy tiny kitchen. Brother said mom did it but never saw her.
I went out back and horse was emaciated, cow/pit-bull looking thing. Gave water but she wouldn’t graze. I asked if she wanted vet but she answered in a human voice and said “Yes, but I’m not getting on the trailer.” I tried to feed a few blades of grass, horrified because I couldn’t pay board, let alone vet bills. The horse seemed to be dying.
Man had a breeding farm and was mistreating the animals. He had every kind. He kidnapped me because I found it and was going to tell. I started setting the horses free inside the barn. They jumped out because it was on the second floor. A girl was coming to deliver more horses, but she started helping me. We moved to a second barn and freed mini pigs stacked in a cage. Freed guinea pigs, chinchillas, everything. Completely beautifully chaotic.
I lived in a house with my girlfriend, a beautiful girl with black hair and brown skin. We lived together in a room with one bed in an apartment connected to a house. The house belonged to a family of three, mother son and father, all white. Down the street are brightly colored signs pointing to tourist spots. There is a pool and we go swimming with the owner’s son and watch him sometimes.
I start down the tunnel with two friends (through the vent) and we get to the door that goes to their basement and the owner of the house tells me to lock that too. They have no idea what is back here. I go down and down and around, following the path. I tell them that I’ve been in here as a child so I know the way. I’ve always known the way.
Zombie apocalypse. Back to the tunnel and the secret chamber but now it’s a medical facility and there is no room for us. “Us” is unclear here... group of random people that I happen to be with. No names or faces. The room is filled with dead or bandaged bodies on white gurneys.
Dead lame. Woke up
Dead puppy. Woke up.
Dead something else I can’t recall.
Nightmare. Nightmare. Nightmare.
Being chased with no escape. Dark house. Everything dark. Dark women who don’t quite see me. Trapped and trying to be quiet. Dark fences that rattle too loud. Hear me. chase me.
I went to a Japanese museum with everything Japanese inside of it. There were paper fans and screens and ornate pictures and calligraphy and pieces of shrines. There were so many tourists. There was this hallway that had wooden pillars, a shiny wood floor, and beautiful red wooden arches. People were going down it one way and it had an “enter here” sign. They had to use little chairs or wooden scooters with wheels to get down and I chose a wooden cart that looked like a shopping card, but wood with a solid bottom and sides.
I went down the wrong way and then back again, searching for something. I went through the museum the right way now and came to an apartment at the end where three women were half-dressed in kimonos, sitting around watching television in a normal living room. The mother of the three said: “Look in the bedrooms, one has a cute squid, and the other has a cheetah. Who could sleep with that in there?”
I went to both rooms that were filled with stuffed animals, but the cheetah wasn’t in there. The third had a green ceiling that looked like it was supposed to be grass and a real stuffed cheetah was peeking out over the hills. I could see its glassy eyes.
I told the mother I wanted to leave and she told me that I should. As soon as I did the women went to the basement, shouted something about “level nineteen” and the house was surrounded by men in blue suits. They cranked the house and drove it away down the street.
I hadn’t stayed to watch them drive to the beginning of the museum, but I was there to watch the three girls spin out in fluffy prom dresses on the arms of Japanese men in black suits. They went into one of the museum buildings. But I was still looking for something.
Behind the museum building was a grassy knoll. I looked into one of the open doors on the building and they were having a class. I went out to the field and they were chasing a horse about, trying to get its organs out and then sew it back up and send it home to it’s owners without them knowing. They chased this horse all around talking and laughing about how they couldn’t catch one horse or another. We were all standing around in our prom dresses watching, me in anger. I don’t remember what happened to the horse, but the music started and everything else was put on hold.
I went outside to tree and held out my hand to a wild cockatiel who climbed on with some urging. It let me groom it, and I smiled and smiled and smiled. I went inside and brought someone else out with me to pick up the other one who looked more like a hawk with brown feathers, but still the tufted head.
“You know, the blind ones sit on the bottom branches,” someone told me.
I went down a couple of steps to the oracle of birds, the protector was also blind. The great white bird with a body almost as big as me and with a cartoonish beak, set the underside of the thing on my head to determine what I was.
Not a bird. Not bad. They accepted me.