Yesterday we were on our way back from a weekend out of town, and I got an idea for a short story. This was a six-hour drive, at the end of which there would be no time for writing, not until this afternoon, when my class was over and I'd made it home. I genuinely feared the urge to write would leave me by then--if I'd been alone in the car, I would have pulled over and written for half an hour at a rest stop (probably fueled by one of those Dunkin' Donuts egg sandwiches on a waffle, I'm afraid).
The reason I was so nervous is that the story comes entirely from a dream, or rather a series of dreams, that I've had over the past couple of years. I'd had one the other night. In each, there's an abandoned cottage on a hilltop behind our house. It's the same cottage each time, but it always looks quite different. The story I was working up involved this series of cottages, and the idea that something can be the same and not-the-same at once. As I conceived of it, it wouldn't be a realistic story--or rather, just realistic enough to feel wrong somehow.
The weight of dreams leaves you pretty quickly. I've tried writing from them before, and rarely finish. A few times I've managed to semi-evoke that feeling in fiction, though not usually when I'm employing actual dreams as the material in question. Our dreams, unfortunately, are not inherently interesting to other people. In fiction, they need context, even if that context has to be built into the representation itself. And it's hard to know what specifically they need to carry their own sense with them.
I did manage to hold out until noon today, then write a mess of pages. I don't know if they're any good. Tomorrow I'm going to try a bunch more. Whatever the result, it feels good, a return to the dream state. I suppose it's better to write inspired garbage than nothing.