Dream a Little Dream

This morning I woke up after a dream–I dreamed today was Thanksgiving, and I had NO food and a houseful of people. My son had a dream as well; he told me that he dreamed about “an epic bed” which featured a mattress in a bath tub, floating on water. His dreams are always more colorful than mine.

I have always been fascinated by dreams, although not in a hugely analytic way–I prefer not to spend a lot of time in my own head (or my kid’s), thank you. It’s just interesting to me how they can give insight to one’s true feelings. Years ago, I tried to keep a dream journal, with limited success. My dreams are so ephemeral, I usually forget them within moments, even with a handy notebook by the bed. Other times, my notes were completely unintelligible.

I do remember some of my dreams. The–ahem–erotic dreams and anxiety dreams are usually the most memorable. I am not entirely sure what the former are supposed to signify, but they are fun. The latter, much less enjoyable, let me know that something in my life is freaking me out more than I thought. Some days I have to try very hard to figure out what it is–I adore Thanksgiving, especially when I’m cooking, so today’s dream was obviously about something else, probably to do with the day job.

I like to use dreams in my novels too, as they are wonderful literary devices. They are ways to get deeper inside a character’s head, to weave in backstory, to break the rules a bit. When you come across dreams in my books, that’s what they are: devices.

I am not a particularly deep thinker–what you see is usually what you get with me. I always hated literary criticism classes in college, where the professor took apart books page by page to search for the hidden meanings. Sometimes there just aren’t any, at least not intentional ones. There’s a 2011 Paris Review article that pops up on Facebook every now and then–Julia Quinn, one of my favorite romance authors, is the latest to mention it. It describes a high school kid in 1963 who, tired of searching for symbolism in English class, wondered what authors really thought. So Bruce McAllister sent a survey to 150 novelists to ask them. Half of them responded, some in tremendous detail. I can’t do justice to the questions or their responses here, so go read the article.

But I digress.

Do you remember your dreams? What’s your most memorable one? Literary criticism–yea or nay?