Back when I worked as a waitress (and for years afterward), I often had waitress' dreams. Anyone who's ever worked as a server in a restaurant knows exactly what I'm talking about. There are variations, but mine typically went like this: I'm waitressing and become completely bombarded with tables. My section expands into warehouse like proportions and eventually I have dozens/hundreds of tables, so many that I can't possibly keep track. Customers want their checks, the kitchen is yelling for me to pick up orders, people need salads and bread, drink orders are waiting to be delivered. I'm working frantically, but no matter what I do, I can't get caught up.
I've had this dream many, many, many times and never once during the dream do I decide to just go back to the time clock, punch out, and go home. At some point I realized that I always got these dreams during the most stressful times in my life. Apparently, this was my subconscious telling me I was overwhelmed. Like I didn't know that already.
I haven't had one of those dreams in ages. Instead I now get what I call writers' dreams, even though on the surface they don't appear to have anything to do with writing. Whenever I get a little snarled up in a novel, whether I'm stuck on a plot point or can't write (due to life's interferences), I get a similar dream.
These dreams are varied, but they always have one commonality. I'm in a house and I shouldn't be there. Sometimes it's a house I used to live in that now belongs to someone else. Other times I'm in a scary part of town and I take refuge in a house that happens to be open. Usually it's nighttime and I have nothing with me--no purse, cell phone, or money. In the dream I fear that the homeowners will come back and find me there. I keep thinking, I'm not supposed to be here and I'm terrified, but I can't leave. Sometimes people I know in real life are in the dream. But they never ever help me, the rat bastards. Clearly, I'm on my own.
The one good thing? Shortly after having one of these dreams, my writing usually takes a turn for the better.
Last night I had a writers' dream, but it was different this time. I was in a strange house where I discovered the homeowner asleep and I was able to slip out undetected. I remember walking down the sidewalk away from the house and thinking man, that was close! It was a little harrowing, but not nearly as intense as what I've experienced in the past.
I've been a little tangled up in my current story, but I'm choosing to believe that this dream means something has shaken loose in my subconscious.
Now I'm off to write!