A Writer’s Notebook: a dream (Retro #4)

This has been a heavy writing week for me, and it’s about to get heavier: in addition to final novel revisions, synopses, queries, and excerpt submissions — which have taken up the bulk of my week — I am today beginning work on a collaborative piece a friend of mine solicited me for. So I’m taking a bit of a short-cut this week and returning to my “retro” excerpts from old hand-written notebooks.

Boy sneaks onto old NW estate, caught by groundskeeper, taken to old woman, allowed to hire on and stay. Later, groundskeeper (thick, short, gray beard, brusque, Welsh) leaves estate in shame (why?)

Shrieking demon, white w/ huge round teeth for grinding bones, no legs, like a crab with arms, huge black eyes, can answer questions but once it starts talking it won’t shut up and can drive you mad, the only way to stop it is to tie it in a tree w/ chains and burn it — won’t die, but will shriek itself into exhaustion so you have time to encase it in something  (formerly in a tomb, then inside a statue) — finally, a well filled with concrete.

Later, large group of vagabonds comes through, they stay, beds in every room, most taken, a little girl goes missing around the same time the adopted boy, making rounds looking for her, spies groundskeeper sneaking around outside. They are friendly, but he won’t come in. Boy tells old lady, who is furious and scared. They break out the demon from the statue to find the girl and learn about the groundskeeper but it shrieks too much, they only learn what they already know before they have to burn it again. (into the well)

The estate building has a side room, formerly a sun room/reading room, with a huge picture window looking at Mt. Hood. Boy doesn’t know this until later b/c when he first sees it, Hood is obscured in clouds, then he doesn’t visit that part of the house often.

A novelty train in on the estate but it almost never runs — leads near a witch’s house and a cave where other, evil people made sacrifice.

Part Great Expectations & part Jane Eyre.

When groundskeeper is sneaking around, he has a rifle and has been shooting rabbits.

This is actually not from an “old” notebook — it’s from my current notebook. My wife got it for me at a Magrudy’s when we lived in Abu Dhabi. Which means I’ve had it for a while — a year and a half, maybe two years now. So obviously I’ve been slow to fill it up, though it’s nearly finished now.

Anyway, what happened with all that wild text up above is that I dreamed it. All of it. The scribbles in my notebook were what I managed to get on paper immediately after I woke up. So I’m not embellishing anything here — this is exactly as I dreamed it.

Which isn’t to say it’s exactly how it would turn out if I ever wrote this as a novel (which is what I’m picturing it as, though it feels tight and self-contained enough that it might work better as a novella). I mean, witches? Shrieking demons? I love the hell out of good old-fashioned Gothic horror stories, but I’m not sure I’d actually want to get that outlandish with it.

Or maybe I would. 🙂

Anyway, this isn’t the first time a dream has turned into fiction for me. My story “It Was the Only Way” was, almost verbatim, a dream I had. The “prologue” chapter of my novella also was a dream, as was the idea for the novel that became my dissertation. But this thing? I’m still not entirely sure what I’m going to do with it.

Maybe NaNoWriMo this year? Stay tuned!

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

8 thoughts on “A Writer’s Notebook: a dream (Retro #4)

  1. I enjoyed your story “It Was the Only Way.” It’s cool that you have vivid dreams like that. I have a dream journal that I keep–I’m fascinated by dream interpretation.

    Keep smiling,

    1. Hey, thanks, Yawatta! It’s awesome that you actually went and read that one — I really like the way it turned out, even if my subconscious gets most of the credit. 😉

      SOL is a terrific lit magazine, too, so I was really honored to be there. If you liked my story, definitely check out the other great works they publish!

    1. Thanks! I think it’s very much on the back burner right now — actually, it’s not even on the stove — because I have a story cycle from last year to finish and I just started what might be a novella. But I seriously think this might be my NaNoWriMo project. We’ll see where I stand in November. 🙂

  2. I have to say, that notebook is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

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