The TXT that already made writing my novel worth it. The first of many?
The text arrived 10:30 Friday morning, while I was at work. It was all in caps.
I HAD A LUCID DREAM!
It was from my thirteen year-old son, who had been reading my novel recently. He had lobbied and gained permission from his new 8th grade teacher to read my book for his school reading assignment, just as soon as classes started this fall. I have to admit; I had thought that was pretty damn cool, on both their parts. While my son was reading DreamWalkers, my wife reported that he would occasionally look up from the book to tell her how much he was enjoying it and that he kept forgetting that I had written it, as he became swept up in the story. High praise, indeed.
When he had finished it, he gave me some good notes to consider as well. But it was the story and content itself that excited him. It got him thinking. A lot.
Now, he had previously heard me talk about the concept of lucid dreaming, of becoming aware that you are dreaming and being able to influence the dream you are in. He knew that I had learned how to do it as a kid, as a means of escaping my nightmares. Hearing me talk about it when I was writing the first draft hadn’t created a huge reaction in him. Yet his biggest take-away from reading the book, apart from enjoying the story, was that he now wanted to learn how to have his own lucid dreams.
I was pretty excited that the story had inspired my son. After all, it was one of my great hopes that kids would find the book mind opening in a number of ways and that learning more about lucid dreaming might serve as a gateway to having their own adventures as they slept. But, until Friday, I didn’t know how much he’d been motivated to try.
He was home sick all last week with some crazy virus. As a result, he was sleeping a lot throughout the day. It just so happens that drifting into and out of sleep creates a fertile territory for gaining lucidity in one’s dreams. As I had not yet placed my list of tips on how to have a lucid dream at the back of the book, which I plan to have as a ‘Note from the Author’ in the final, my son was only armed with the information he gleaned from the story itself. Turns out, it was enough.
Unbeknownst to me, he had been keeping a dream journal for the past two weeks, writing in it every time he awoke to capture the content of his dreams before the memory of them faded, just as Adam does in my story. During the week of my son’s illness, he would go back to sleep with one goal, to realize what he saw next would be a dream.
On Friday, he did.
The dream began in our front yard. He saw his brother driving a tricked-out orange Mazda noisily down the street. Having had recent driving issues, my younger son didn’t think his brother would be able to own a car like that, because of the insurance cost (a frequent topic of discussion in my house recently). He used the incident as a reality check. If his brother was driving that car, my son reasoned, then this MUST be a dream!
Delighted that he was now aware he was dreaming, it occurred to him that he could do whatever he wanted. His first thought was to emulate one of his favorite video game characters, Link, from The Legend of Zelda. Link has a signature sword and shield that my son has always wanted to own for real and here was his chance. He tried to summon the shield to his arm… and it worked! Sort of.
He was now holding a shield, but instead of the specific shield he’d wanted, he ended up with a shield from Gundam, a robot warrior show from even earlier in his childhood. Slightly disappointed, but still having fun, he tried for the sword. He was much closer this time. It was actually Link’s purple-hilted sword, but it looked like a horrible, low-resolution screen grab. He said it looked like bad Photoshop work. It struck him as funny dreaming it, as it was for me, hearing about it.
Shortly thereafter, he remembered he could probably fly, if he wanted. He started running, felt the air catch underneath him, and found himself up in the air. He became aware of my wife and I watching him from below as he soared and, at the same time, realized he wasn’t very good at controlling his flight. Momentarily out of control, he started flying backwards into the copse of trees that separates our yard from the neighbor’s – until he hit a tree. Apparently, as his very supportive father, I couldn’t stop laughing. Happily, he thought it was comical as well.
He made a number of loops of the yard, enjoying each swoop. In the end, he made a controlled landing, flying through our back porch door and running a few steps, as he was carried forward by momentum. He looked back and saw the screen door was closed. Another sign he was still dreaming. And then, the dream was over.
My wife walked into his room shortly after he woke up, to check on how he was feeling. She saw him writing frantically in his journal, trying to catch every detail he could, not interrupting him until he was finished. His text to me was sent moments later and I called to hear all about it immediately.
What a gratifying moment for both of us. He was so thrilled to have been an active participant in his own dream. It was just like the book. He was having his own adventures, like Adam had! Lucid dreaming had become real for him. And, sharing in his excitement, I had my own hopes realized. My book had inspired a child and opened him to a whole new world. I couldn’t have been more delighted that my son had been the first and knew, somehow, he wouldn’t be the last.
And what’s better than that?