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Clio's Temple

Is this real life? Is this just fantasy?

The title of this post comes, as many of you will recognize, from "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. I think it encapsulates something unsettling about the world I inhabit as a creative writer wannabe. I've previously posted about where I get my ideas from. What I've lately started thinking about is the dreamscapes that play a major role in my writing.

I will be 69 next week. As is the case with many others of the Baby Boom generation, many of our early perceptions were formed by television and movies. There have been cases in which these memories are so deeply embedded in my subconscious that they give birth to strange, sometimes discordant imagery which some have labeled "dreamscapes." Dreams and dreamscapes play a major role in my forthcoming novel Faith, Hope, and Dr. Vangelis. The two protagonists (man, woman) both find themselves impelled by these visions to do things that wouldn't otherwise occur to them. These actions, in turn, drive the plot forward.

A dreamscape doesn't have to be so all-powerful. I sometimes think about writing about my early life. I grew up in a small town in the Deep South and there are things embedded in my mind that sometimes emerge in strange ways. Case in point: my maternal grandfather was a key figure in my early years. Some of the happiest memories I have are of sitting with him in his den watching television. He loved major league baseball and it was in front of the TV that I first pledged allegiance to the New York Yankees of the 1950s. He also loved "Gunsmoke," watching it faithfully in the fifteen years between its premiere and his death in 1970.

These memories re-emerged a few years ago one night. As my wife and I tossed and turned on our bed, sleeping the uneasy sleep of middle-aged couples, I suddenly found myself in the house where my family lived from 1955 to 1961. My wife (whom I didn't meet until 1978) and I were watching television when a knock came at the screen door on our front porch. I said, "Come in," and Granddaddy walked into the living room. "Granddaddy, this is my wife Ruth. Do you want to watch Gunsmoke with us?" The memory gets blurry after that, but I recall that he sat down and we watched the show together. Then he got up and walked back to his house (three doors down from us).

I keep hoping that someday, I'll get a creative idea that will enable me to turn this memory into an actual story. Do you have your own stories that combine reality and fantasy?

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