Write yourself out of a nightmare

Among the most frightening aspects of a nightmare – whether in sleep or metaphorically in real life – is that there seems to be no escape. The phantom gives constant chase, the terror remains unrelenting. We have no control of the situation.

Writing, in contrast, ranks among those few acts in which we possess absolute control. We determine the fate of our characters, we determine what they will do and how they will behave. We erase and revise their past, we establish their desires and motivations.

If the written page is a universe, each of us is its god.

We create our written universes out of our own imagination and experiences. So what if we turn that which frightens us, both in our minds and in our daily lives, into one of those written universes? What if we subjugate that which controls us, using the pen or keyboard as our swords?

No doubt we must relive that which frightens us, for until we establish it in description and through suspense and tension, it does not exist in our written universe.

But rather than allow what terrorizes us to control us, what if we determine the fate of that phantom and of ourselves cast as the story’s hero? What if we determine how the phantom will fail and how we will vanquish it? What if we rewrite the nightmare and allow our personal desires for freedom and peace of mind to triumph?

What if we write ourselves out of our nightmares?