Monday, March 7, 2011

Writing Exercise: Dream Descriptions

A few days ago, I stumbled across a writing exercise that suggests you describe a couple of dreams as quickly as possible in as much detail as possible. I'm not sure how I feel about what I came up with, but I figured I'd post them anyway. As it happens, I have a number of recurring dreams that pop up every so often, and I happened to have variations on two of them the past couple nights. They are obviously absurd (especially the second one), but I'm not really interested in interpretation. I just wanted to see what I would get if I tried the exercise. Criticism is more than welcome. Here goes:

Last night:

There is a bus, of which I am either a passenger or the driver. Sometimes both. The bus moves too fast and it’s scaring me, like, seriously freaking me out. It drives down narrow city roads that roll like waves. Sometimes the world seems to undulate; the asphalt rolls up against the bus, but it keeps speeding on. Later, the bus is in a parking structure. There are other cars there, and I think a fuel tanker. I know what’s coming but I can’t stop it. I’m not driving anymore. It’s a man, middle-aged, white, and skinny. He has brown hair and a long face. He looks a bit like Bill Nye the Science Guy. I think he is crazy. He probably is. He’s driving way too fast and there’s no space anymore. The bus skids around the garage until it can’t miss the tanker anymore, and there’s an explosion. I wake up.

Night before last:

I’m in a forest. It’s cold and grey. The ground is moist and soft, and the air is so foggy that it wets my skin. There are huge trees, tops obscured in mist and trunks dripping dew. The forest should feel healthy and alive but it doesn’t. It’s still vaguely beautiful, though. At least there is no wind. The ground between the trees is brown and bare, and my feet twist and catch on the uneven clumps of dirt. It feels like I’m on a slope. It’s not steep, but I’m definitely looking downhill, for now. I’m walking between the trees, but I don’t know where I’m going. I’m wearing a watch, a black digital one with a rubber band that pulls at the hair on my arm. I look at the watch. It says something very precise, like 11:57 AM in flashing black digits. When I see the time, I realize that I am terribly late for something. Not the kind of late that you can play off by saying you were stuck in traffic or your car wouldn’t start or something harmless like that. It’s the kind of late where you know you overslept, and you’re going to be way too late to get away with it and you’re going to fucking get it. I turn and run, at first downhill but then uphill, like the ground is a seesaw that suddenly swings the other way. I’m trying to run but I’m wearing shoes I’m not used to, they’re heavy and I keep tripping on roots. I’m not running fast enough and there’s no way I’m going to make it on time. I wake up and check the time. It’s only 7:14 AM and I have time. I go back to sleep.

I’m on a hillside again, but this one is different. I can see down the slope for miles. There is a cobblestone road that weaves down between mounds of green and brown. The colors are pretty and bright but somehow flat and without texture, like someone spilled paint and just let it dry instead of brushing it. There are low brown fences, like the ones they put around pastures. It’s a beautiful day; the sky is blue and dry and I can see the sun when I shield my eyes just right. When I look up the hill behind me I can see thick patches of trees, with a few gaps through which I can see brown ground and more sky. For a few minutes, things are warm and peaceful and beautiful. I look downhill one more time. I begin to feel uneasy. The leaves twitch restlessly. I know there’s something behind me. I don’t want to look but I think I won’t live if I don’t, so I look. In a clearing of trees stands a huge dinosaur, looking away from me, for now. My pulse triples, and I turn downhill to run, hoping it won’t see me and I will get away. I don’t look again, but I hear a crunch of dirt and leaves and I know it has seen me. I run as fast as I can, but for some reason I’m not moving very fast. It feels like I’m running on like an astronaut. Each step takes an eternity to hit the ground, no matter how fast I push myself. I’m more falling down the hill than running. I turn to look and I see it chasing me. It is huge, and its skin is a dead green, like drying grass in fall. I try to keep running. I feel a primal terror, like a rabbit chased by a wolf. I’m going to be eaten and I can’t do anything about it. There is a short fence in front of me, so I jump over it. I hope the fence will stop it from coming, but it won’t. I’m in the yard of a farmhouse, but I don’t have time to get inside. I don’t even try. I turn and look at the monster. It is upon me before I can gasp in shock. It picks me up in its jaws. My head and chest are inside its mouth. Its tongue is red and wet and huge, bigger than me. It feels like raw chicken meat under my hand. Its teeth are the size of my arm, not sharp but it doesn’t matter because its jaws are too strong and I can’t move. The monster drops me. I look up and see its skin up close. It looks like the dry patches between my thumbs and forefingers. I think it roars at me but I can’t really tell, because it has picked me up again. I lay on the ground while it eats me in pieces. I wake up.


  1. Really vivid descriptions, some repetition of phrases is evident, such as the trailing statement "for now." Overall I like the imagery a lot as well as the description of the various textures throughout. The entire exercise seemed to have a very tactile feel. I should try this exercise too. I always remember my dreams and I had a pretty good one last night. How soon do you write these after you wake up?

  2. Also, forgot to mention, "At least there is no wind," made me laugh. I hate wind.

  3. I think it's incredible that you remembered so much detail from the second dream. The writing is really incredible and honest. The quick writing required for these assignments is useful because it allows you to describe details more concretely, as opposed to writing too descriptively. It's to the point, but not lacking in creativity.

    Please write more. I enjoy it.