Monday, September 20, 2010

Writing in My Sleep

Have I mentioned My Novel? Well, there is one--actually there are four or five--and it has me in its thrall. This book started a decade ago. I distinctly remember its inception because I was in Manhattan on 9-11, and just before that event, I had come up with one of those irresistible What Ifs. I have poked along, put it away, played at it, and generally been a desultory, no, a scared-stiff-I-don't know what I'm doing-novelist. All of this in spite of having two completed and gathering dust, and another two sort of planned and started. But this particular story kept calling me back, and this summer I got serious about finishing it. As of this moment I have over 50,000 words on paper, the first nineteen chapters revised and a fairly clear path to the final scene. I have the final scene drafted, so I can see that famous light at the end.

Here's what's happening: I'm writing in my sleep. Not retrievable prose, nothing so lucky as that. But I woke in the middle of the night last night with the clear feeling that I was narrating something in past tense. I don't dream in past tense. So my question is this: if dreaming in a second language is a mark of fluency, is writing in my dreams also a mark of progress? Is this immersion changing my brain? I think it is. And given that my novel is one of magical realism, I may be in for an interesting ride.

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