Dreaming of a weirder world

Athena is miffed, having been dissed in my dream.
I've been reading a fair amount of advice on writing lately, and one of the suggestions for coming up with story ideas was to keep a dream journal. I wonder how useful an idea that really is. Most people's dreams are usually an incoherent mess, more impressionistic than narrative, but I often have dreams with strong, clear story lines. They are so cinematic that sometimes some of the "characters" are even played by well-known actors. For instance, I remember one dream in which I was fighting the gods of Olympus (I think this was last spring, when I was teaching ancient epic poetry). In my dream, the Olympian deities were warring with each other -- as is their wont -- and Athena (played by Melina Kanakaredes) had paid me to spy for her. She paid me with a large check (physically huge, like the ones you see sweepstakes winners getting on TV), but I could tell right away the check was phony and would bounce if I tried to cash it, so I yelled at her for being a lying cheapskate, no better than her pet mortal, Odysseus. She swelled up the size of a giant redwood and tried to intimidate me, flashing some impressive lightning like the kind her old man, Zeus, is famous for, and thundering, "Don't you know who I am, mortal? I am the great goddess, Athena! You can't speak that way to me!" (More crashing lighthing, with howling wind.) I jeered back, "You may be big and scary, but you're a ham actor -- and miscast, to boot!" She looked pretty put-out at that, so I awoke on that triumphant note.

brightly colored frogs
The cutest little dream-enemies ever!
It's possible I could concoct some kind of other-worldly thriller out of one of my dreams, which are often thrillers or mysteries, in which I am, alone or as part of a secret organization, trying to save the world from the forces of evil. (Thanks, Dr. Jung, no analysis needed.)  I dreamt a beaut of a dream last night (or, rather, this morning) that was no doubt influenced to some extent by Dean Koontz's Brother Odd (which I am currently reading), with a dash of classic Star Trek's "The Trouble with Tribbles" thrown in. I was riding a bike around a city, and kept noticing (and barely missing running over) lots of brightly colored small frogs (yellow, red, blue, green) in places where you wouldn't expect to see such things. I began to sense that lots of small creatures -- frogs, moles, mice, piranhas -- were converging on the city to seek vengeance on the human population for scorning and misusing them as if they were insignificant. I went home to a large building where I lived -- a building that was a couple of stories high, took up an entire large city block, and was an entire self-contained community in itself (like a large space ship), having private sleeping quarters, communal lounges, dining halls, bathrooms, and shops full of clothing. I warned my fellow residents that we were about to experience a sneak attack by thousands of small creatures, furry and not, and I instructed the computer that controlled the building's systems to close all possible ways of ingress or egress. Meanwhile, my fellow residents and I went around trying to find the little critters wherever they might be -- shaking them out of the sleeves of coats and jackets that hung on hangers, spooking them where they were huddled at the backs of toilet stalls in the restrooms. It was looking as if we had managed to smoke them out before too many had got into the building when my cat Petunia (She Who Must Be Obeyed) began yelling for her breakfast and I had to get up and greet the day.

I have a feeling, though, that I won't be creating any breakout novels based on my dreams. The novel I'm currently working on is based on a story I've been making up in my head for many years but one which, curiously, has never invaded my dreams. However, if I write the whole series I have imagined, it will turn out to have one thing in common with the themes of my dreams, in that the central characters will discover that they have become, almost unwittingly, members of a secret organization that is, in a way, trying to save the world from the forces of evil. But I don't want to spoil it for you, so that's all I'm going to say.

Sweet dreams, y'all.

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