Monday, April 30, 2007

the perfect line

Everyone knows you should avoid drunk dialing. It's okay, we've all done it, that's precisely why we know we shouldn't. Ouch. Likewise you should avoid drunk writing. You know, the amazingly funny, beautifully moving story you had to write down: on a bar napkin, with a pen frantically begged from that super-sweet bartender (you remember, the one who was so hot that you had to have sex with him in the bar's bathroom after closing that night). The line that was such genius you couldn't believe it came out of you... and the next day when you pulled the damp and crumpled ball of napkin out of the back pocket of the jeans you'd slept in, thrilled that it survived, anticipating re-reading your burst of inspiration, smoothing it out with shaking hands, only to read "ldkfslkdfjslkdkllllmnmmm HAMMN!! BEST O lkjljrrrvstivleing!!!" And cringe that you could actually imbibe enough tequila to make that seem legible. We've all been there, too.

Okay, okay, I've been there. Stop judging, Aunt Mabel!

But what about dreaming? What about that delicious state where you're almost awake, but not quite, when you know the alarm is not set so you can lay there and indulge your subconscious in a near-dream state without fear of interruption? What if you come up with the perfect opening line for a novel in that state? I mean PERFECT. So great a line that should you manage to commit it to paper with a pen, pencil, crayon or blood it will lead you effortlessly into a full-length, final-draft perfect version of the greatest American novel ever written (or at least a blockbuster best-seller and a shot on Oprah) what then?

Should you hop from your drowsy slumber and scrawl the line on the wall, capturing it before it can flit away back into the land of dreams? Or should you lay there and relish the sleep, and know, because of its perfection, it's rightness, that it will stay with you and there is no need to move your head from the pillow: because the line will be with you always.

I wish I'd done the former instead of the latter.

It was such an amazing opening line! I fell in love with it, wanted to buy it dinner and take it to a movie, but I was lazy. I stayed in bed and believed that the line would be there when I was able to finally face opening my eyes to the light of day. I had faith the magic would last.

Oh my honeys I should have known better. Faith has always been my downfall.

This morning, when I finally attempted to transcribe this golden, dream line into ordinary English: it was not the same. I had lost the sublime wording that made it universally desirable, I had lost the magic wording that would have made it as well-known a line as "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times". I felt bereft.

Of course, the reality is that I still have a really nice line. It's probably just as good as it was when I was dreaming it: but the hazy sleepiness made it seem soooo much better than anything anyone has ever written.

I do wonder though, had I attempted to write it down in my clumsy sleep hand.... what might have come of that.

Then again, is dream writing all that different from drunk writing? Probably not so much.

At least that's what I'm telling myself.


whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Oh I hate that! I'm sorry Joy.

Always write it down and then go back to sleep. I have lost way too many good ideas (awake even) because I didn't write them down thinking that I'd remember them later.

Bella said...

Good for you for even dreaming of a fantastic opening line of a novel while you're sleeping! I've longed to write a book, but so far, I haven't been able to decide what type of book I want to write. Maybe tonight in your sleep you'll remember the line...or dream up an even better one.