Liminal [ lim-uh-nl ]
Of or relating to a transitional or intermediate state, stage, or period

Waystation [way sta·tion]
A stopping point on a journey

Welcome to the Liminal Waystation. As the name implies, this is a space between two states of being. A place to rest in the murky waters of becoming. This is where transformation happens, where the speculative thrives, where everything vibrates with quantum ambivalence. Nothing has happened here and nothing will happen here because it is happening right now.

Each week we’ll explore a new liminal space and its potential to inspire deeper thought into who we are as readers, creatives, and humans. These little forays will be accompanied by a book recommendation and a writing exercise for an even deeper dive.

So, stop thinking about the destination. Worry less about what’s on the other side. Get a little bit uneasy. And then find comfort in the uncomfortable, a sense of purpose in the transitory, belonging in the temporary. Feel the stories of those who have passed this way before or will pass this way after or who never left this space at all. Who you are
when you emerge from the passageway is in your own hands.

First up – Between sleep and wakefulness

From lucid dreaming (awareness while in a dream state) to hypnagogia (a state between being awake and asleep that can be accompanied by hallucinations), this divide is filled with opportunities to ask, What if? Somnambulism, or sleep-walking, provides another example of what can happen in this strange, little-charted territory.

As with other liminal spaces, the transition between awake and asleep can be dark, scary, and altogether unwelcome. It can feel like a hungry chasm, a maw opening wide to receive us.

Or…it can be a doorway to a part of ourselves we can’t always access.

Catriona Ward, author of such best-sellers as The Last House on Needless Street and The Sundial opened up to Hephzibah Anderson of The Guardian about her struggles with hypnagogic hallucinations:

“I suffer from hypnagogic hallucinations. They started when I was about 13, taking the form of a hand in the small of my back as I was falling asleep, shoving me out of bed really hard…I think it’s probably the deepest chasm I have ever looked into. There’s nothing comparable to it in the daylight world.”

She goes on to suggest that WW Jacobs’s The Monkey’s Paw awakened the same fear years after her first episode, and that the link was transformative:

“I remember feeling that fear again and thinking, “This is where you put it, this is the house you build to
contain the demon.”

So, as you’re lying in bed tonight, drifting into the sweet abyss of your
subconsciousness, remember that this to is an in-between place, a passage, a liminal space. A road, as it were.

…Where it leads is up to you.

Book Recommendation

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” 

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. Hiswife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Writing Exercise

Your protagonist experiences a hypnagogic hallucination as they’re drifting off to sleep and makes some real-life decision based on it. What are they doing and what are the consequences?