I've read about several novels conceived by the author while dreaming -- most notably Stephanie Meyer's Twlight and Stephen King's Misery.
A few nights ago I dreamt I was fishing and caught a dead body! I haven't lived near that pond in years, but it was the same pond where I spent many, many hours fishing as a boy. I told my wife about it the next day and she suggested it would be a good opening scene for a novel.
Some of my most enlightened and vivid ideas arrive during those quiet moments when I first wake up in the morning. It's usually when I'm just lightly awake, but still groggy enough to want to remain under the covers for a few more minutes. In my experience, those little moments of clarity simply can not be forced to "happen", and that's too bad, because if I could duplicate them I would have finished my novel(s) years ago.
I cranked the fishing reel a few turns to tighten the line and felt a tug. I reeled it faster and stepped backwards from the water's edge. The fishing pole began to bend.
My friend Tim Johnson ran toward me from half way around the pond shouting encouragement.
"Rod tip up. Keep the line tight. Careful so you don't lose this monster."
"Would you look at the arc on that pole?” I said. “I don't know if I can get it to the bank. It must weigh 30 pounds at least."
"Don't give up on it Bill. It's sure to be the biggest catfish we've ever hauled out of this pond."
"I've hooked some big catfish Tim, but this thing's a whale."
The Zebco 33 Classic reel and Ugly Stick pole were fine for bass and blue gill; and adequate for an occasional catfish, but they were no match for this fight.
"Damn it, I lost it."
"Did it break off?" Tim asked, now standing beside me.
"I thought you had it for sure."
"I don't know what it was, but it's the heaviest fish I've ever hooked," I said, flailing my aching arms and hands.
"Uh, Bill....that was no fish," Tim said, now pointing toward the water. "Look."
The afternoon sun cast a glare on the water and I did not immediately see it. Beginning to catch my breath, I dropped the rod and reel and bent down for a closer look.
And there it was staring up at me from three feet of murky pond water--the shrunken, shriveled, decaying face on the shoulders of a fully clothed dead man.
“What should we do?” Tim asked.
“Help me get him out of there,” I said.
I waded into the water and took hold of the leather belt with one hand and supported the back of the head with the other hand. The back of the head felt mushy. The skin on the neck was pale white, like hands left in dishwater too long doing dishes.
“Don’t just stand there Tim. Help me!”
“What do you want me to do?” Tim asked.
“We’ve got to get him out of the water. Grab hold like this.”
We took our positions on opposite sides of the body, facing one another, and struggled against the weight of it. We walked the body out of the pond water and up the bank a few feet before lowering the body in soft mud.
“It stinks,” Tim said, clamping his nose with thumb and index finger. “I wonder what happened to him.”
“Help me roll him over,” I said. “Let’s find out who he is.”
Dressed in dark suit pants, light blue shirt, and black wingtip shoes he lay exposed on the pond bank. We rolled the body to one side. I removed the wallet from a back pocket.
The leather and most of the contents were ruined. Pictures were illegible; and various papers were reduced to mush, but the driver’s license was fine.
“Says here, this is Gregory Pritchard.”
“Never heard of him, Bill, have you?” Tim asked.
“I don’t think we should touch anything else,” Tim said. “I’ll get my cell phone from my pack. We should call the police.”