Adventures in Writing: A Strange Occurrence at Hannibal House

Life imitating art. I’ve been writing a short story (that’s turned out not to be that short) called ‘Hannibal House’ that is a diversion from my usual Sci-Fi slant and in to the realms of the supernatural.

I am a very logical person, I adhere to probability and in everything I write I attempt to ensure that the scenarios are believable.  Throughout the writing of ‘Hannibal House’ I’ve considered the actions of the protagonist and whether his choices are realistic, and at the same time made it so that the reader shouldn’t be tempted to throw down the story while yelling “Why is he SO STUPID?!”  which is the way that I feel when reading many works of supernatural fiction.

That’s all very well, but what’s the point of this post?  Well, I had a strange occurrence last night while writing.  It was late (I tend to write late) and due to having a full time job too I was very tired.  I regularly fall asleep in the middle of doing things late at night.  Playing video games I’d nod off while navigating my character only to wake up to falling off the map, or being attacked by beasts.  On more than one occasion I’ve nodded off mid sentence and woken to pages of “gggggggggggggggggg” for example.

So last night I was incredibly tired and I knew that I was going to nod off (again), but I really wanted to finish the section I was writing.  I couldn’t keep my eyes open, so decided that I would just close my eyes to type the last bit (I am a touch typist so that’s not an issue).

Mid typing I fell asleep.  I couldn’t have been asleep for more than a couple of minutes.  When I opened my eyes I hazily remembered what I had done and that I had dropped off pretty much as soon as I closed my eyes – it’s a gift.  I expected to see on the screen a load of nonsense.  But it wasn’t.  There was a single, perfectly formed sentence.

It wasn’t the sentence that I intended to write.  In fact, I had to read it a couple of times to understand its context.  Then I realised that what I had written was actually a much better scenario than the one that I had planned.

Spooky huh?  Well, no, and yes.  It’s spooky in the context of me writing while asleep.  It’s also odd that I would write something completely different to what I had ‘queued’ in my brain to write.  But looking at it objectively, the brevity of the amount written (about fifteen words) indicates that I was writing for a very short amount of time.  It’s not like I woke up to an extra thousand words (I wish).

The notion of ‘automatic writing’ crossed my mind.  A phenomenon where people in sleep or a trance like state have imparted seemingly valuable information.  Then there is the power of dreaming itself; Albert Einstein apparently achieved his theories via the medium of dreaming about flying through space and time.

Obviously the issue of me writing a different scenario is significant and the logical explanation is that my subconscious thought my original idea was a stinker and seized the opportunity to over-ride me.

*shakes fist at subconscious*  Cheers pal.

Hannibal House is now available on Amazon

Hannibal House by David Nicol

Sometimes you don’t choose the house,
the house chooses you

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Sci-Fi short story ‘The Deluge of Elias’ is available now on Kindle:

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