Let me set a scene for you.
I had an idea for some story--I don't remember much of the ideas for the story (why will become apparent if you keep reading), but I remember it was fantasy, it had a strict rigid gaming system in place (RPG mechanics with level ups, classes, etc.), and there were multiple classes, one of which, the final one I was working on, was Wizard. (Again, this is an important detail.)
I knew that if I didn't write the idea down, I wouldn't remember it though.
So not being an idiot, I did exactly that.
I took out some paper and with my mechanical pencil, in my handwriting (sloppy, large, messy as it may be) and in my style (with dashes to represent a bullet point list of sorts), I began working through writing down the details of every single class.
I brainstormed not only the world (which I wrote the details down of), but also worked out the exact workings of every single class, except for the last one, Wizard, which for some reason was taking me longer than the others I had completed.
But it was no problem, because not being an idiot, I had written down the entirety of the other classes along with the world, allowing me to 'delete' the knowledge from my consciousness and focus my full attention to finishing up the last class, Wizard, which I was about 80% finished on, just struggling to close out the finer details of. I was this close to finishing it, and having everything there for my brilliant idea of a setting. All the setting details, the characters, the classes, I had thought it all up over the course of a few hours, written it all down, completed it all.
It felt like as soon as I finished with ironing out the details of the Wizard class, I'd have gotten myself a complete idea that I could then make reality once I went onto my computer (since this was all done mentally, in my head, and then transcribed onto paper to record it).
But then I ran into a problem.
I realized I needed to use the bathroom, but I couldn't. No matter how much I tried, the bathroom eluded me.
Confusion hit. After all, I was lucid, writing down information from some source in my brain, had been doing this for hours, so I was awake, right? So then why would I struggle to use the bathroom? I was thinking, I was lucid, I felt fully awake. All of my senses were active. Sight, sound, feeling, touch, etc. But then there entered a bit of cognitive dissonance in that the sounds and feelings from my environment were clashing with sounds and feelings I was feeling. I felt both at the same time, but the latter alien sounds/feelings that didn't match what I was seeing were slowly overpowering me. And I had no clue what was going on initially.
And then the dawning realization sank in, initiating the next emotion: panic. Not panic at being trapped, mind you, but in past experiences where I've had much worse versions of this where I couldn't escape the hellhole, you'd be forgiven for thinking I was panicking at being trapped (since being trapped is commonplace when this happens to me, leading to some of the worst nights of my life).
No, this panic was over the story I had made. "What about all of the writing I just did?!?" I tried, desperately, to stare at the papers, to try and have them be real, to have all those hours of work exist in reality, for the things I wrote down to be reuploaded into my brain, but it was all for naught, leading to the next two emotions:
An equal mixture of despair and rage.
Because it was at this point I realized what had happened.
I was lucid dreaming.
I know that when you're dreaming, you're not supposed to be able to read anything, but apparently there's no rule against writing when you're lucid dreaming. And write I did. I got the details perfect in the writing. The writing paper had the look and feel of real paper. The words written were an exact match to my handwriting, and even the color of the pencil's markings on paper were right. I was, legitimately, writing in my own handwriting, in a lucid dream.
And my mind was doing exactly what it did when writing in real life, trusting in the written text to hold onto my memories of the world I had built overnight.
Except I wasn't awake when I wrote them.
And that meant that the writing was vanishing from my memory.
All I could collect was fragments, from the last desperate attempts to hold onto anything. Glances at papers which I knew contained more, and yet now I blank on everything except the memory of it having been a Wizard class I was working on last.
Hours of work.
Because I was working on it in a lucid dream rather than while actually awake.
In hindsight, the speed at which I was worldbuilding and writing things down and how coherent it was should've been a red flag. There's never that much clarity when I am actually awake and writing things down. But at the time. There was just rage and despair.
Both due to how a world that I knew to be worthy of being made ended up not surviving until I was awake. Rage that I had let it be lost, that the lucid dream's formatting where I was so sure I was awake meant that I couldn't recover anything. Despair, because I knew it was a brilliant world.
I felt a deep sense of loss.
Do you know what it's like to feel like you have lost something profound, but be unable to recall what it is you lost?
Because that's exactly what it was. I felt a deep, profound, absolute, resounding sense of complete and total loss. But in spite of knowing I had lost something...I can't remember what, exactly, it is that I lost. If I could remember what it is that I lost, it wouldn't be lost. But I know that I glimpsed some amazing story of my own creation, and now that it is completely and entirely...gone. Gone, gone. Beyond recovery, gone.
Which is saddening beyond depths you could comprehend.
Imagine if Phyrra and Cyrus had suffered this fate, for instance.
Phyrra and Cyrus, perhaps the greatest idea I have ever dreamt up, was...well, from exactly that: a dream. The dream was chaotic, shattered, and I am sure I lost a good deal of the original idea after I woke up...but the key aspect of it is that I managed to recover enough of Phyrra and Cyrus to weave together a narrative that was coherent and perhaps even better than the original dream.
Phyrra and Cyrus, the work I want to make reality more than ever, was that close to suffering a similar fate. All it'd have taken for Phyrra and Cyrus to never exist in my mind was a single lucid dream that deleted the idea from my mind by the time I woke up.
And a work worthy of rivaling Phyrra and Cyrus in scale, in scope--just suffered that fate.
Phyrra and Cyrus I salvaged from ruination by having enough remain after I woke up to restructure things, refill in the gaps.
But this work, I don't have enough. I have the fact that it was a fantasy setting, I was working on classes, and specifically the Wizard class. I don't even remember the DETAILS of the Wizard class, or any of the other classes! I have...NOTHING left of the world.
And our world is the lesser because of it.
Suffice to say.
I woke up today both prematurely and restless, with me having not gotten a good night's sleep.
After all, for god only knows how many hours, my brain wasn't asleep.
It was recording an idea thinking it was preserving it, while in actuality unwittingly destroying it and rendering it unable to be saved.
Not a fun way to wake up.