Monday, July 2, 2012

Strange Dreams

Last night I had a dream that was different to any I have ever had before.
In my waking hours I spend not insignificant amounts of time imagining and building scenes in my WIP.
But last night for the first time ever (at least that I recall) I dreamt I was one of my characters.
Occasionally I have a kind of third person dream where I see myself from outside.

But usually when I dream I am me, Al.

Last night it was different I dreamed from the perspective of one of my characters called Petenka.
To add to the novelty of the experience Petenka is a woman.

I don’t remember dreaming from the perspective of a woman before.
To be sure Petenka is not exactly a “girly” girl having grown up as the eldest of six daughters of a Russian peasant/poacher. But she is most definitely a woman.

I have no problem with putting myself in Petenka’s headspace in the day time, she is one of my POV characters.

But as a dream it was strange. 
I guess it means I have been getting very wrapped up in my writing.

Now, to give a taste of Petenka, a scene just after the German invasion of Russia in 1941.

Shaving: Russia - July 1941

Petenka Bykova

How they wept.

Most young pretty women take great pride in their hair. To suddenly understand they were going to the army barber and their heads would be shaved came as a shock to most of them.
The Communists spent a great deal of effort making people the same, making them conform. To be told new recruits in the Red army were shaved and it made no difference if they were male or female was something I would have expected had I thought about it.
It was no surprise to me and that is the truth of it.

It was a great long hall, maybe a drill hall, with chairs set in two rows of six. No mirrors, but they had arranged the chairs so the two rows faced each other. This made it more difficult for the more sensitive girls because they could envisage what was happening to them through the experience of another.

And in any case we had to stand and watch the others until it was our turn.
I was not over concerned about loosing my hair. My childhood and youth had never left much space for preening.

There were no tears from me.

One other girl was different to most of them, there were no tears from her either as the barber attacked her hair. 
I sat opposite her, she smiled a half smile and cocked her eyebrow at me as if she were sharing a joke. She was enduring the hands of the barbers as well, but what was different was how she approached it. The first strip of her scalp stood out starkly white against her remaining glossy black hair. She shrugged and smiled as her hair fell down her shoulders and on to the floor.

As the barber was finishing she wiggled her eyebrows, 'What about these? If it's to be a clean sweep shouldn't these go too?'
So of course the barber ran his clippers over her brows.
As she left her chair she rubbed her head feeling the strangeness. She raised her voice. 'Come on girls, cheer up! We are going to be soldiers! This is the least we can do for the Russia!'

I made sure I stood next her on the first parade, I wanted to know this girl, wanted to see if she was as singular as she appeared. We stood in a ragged line. The sergeant bellowing at us to stand straight. ‘You are going to be paired up, you will stay in those pairs while you are here and more than likely you will go to your regiments in those pairs. We go along the line. You call out number one and number two. Number ones pair with the two on their left. Is it simple enough? Do you halfwits understand?’
The call went along the line, ‘One’, ‘Two’, ‘One…’
It came to my turn, I called ‘One!’
‘Two!’ she called, we were paired.

I turned to face her, how odd she looked with no hair. Unlike most of the girls she was still pretty with a bald pate, but strange nonetheless. I wondered how I looked to her? I thought I must be even squarer jawed than usual with no hair to soften my cheeks. I spoke first, 'I’m Petenka.'
She smiled warmly, 'Svetlana.'
I gave her a half smile back and we were friends.
It was that easy. 


Kathleen Jones said...

What a strange experience! I don't remember ever dreaming I was someone else. The Petenka incident is very vivid - Svetlana comes over strongly.
Intriguing details of Russian army life.

Anne Gallagher said...

Wow, interesting to dream in character. I've never done it, but now I want to. I'm having trouble with a character and I'd love to solve her problem with a dream.

Great excerpt by the way! Those Russian girls are tough, aren't they.

Al said...

Hi Kathleen,
It was weird "being" someone else. I am pleased the scene "works".

Hi Anne,
It was interesting, but weird!
It is interesting I guess there were a couple of ideas that came from the dream that I could use.
Thank you for the complement!

Linda G. said...

I've never had a dream from the POV of one of my characters--that must've been odd, but still special.

Thanks for sharing a snippet--it's cool to see the very beginning of a friendship like that. Good work!