I’ve been asked to do a guest blog on writing and dreams. So, being a little efficient and a lot lazy, I thought I’d ask for your help with this project. I plan, of course, to share my own experiences with dreaming in my post, but how much more exciting to add others’ dreamy reports to the mix!
Okay, I’ll go first: I’ve kept a dream journal for over thirty years, participated in dream groups for a decade, and have always been amazed at the way both dreams and writing can be universal and particular at once. (Folks in my dream group, as in my writing workshops, get as much out of analyzing others’ dreams as they do out of looking at their own.) And anyone who’s ever woken from a dream with a spoken dialogue in their head, knows how similar the profound, unconscious source of dreams feels to the “suspension of disbelief” or waking dream in which we read and write stories. All of which may explain why so many of my characters have been born from both free writes and dreams.
John the Baptist is a good example: last year, a short but powerful man with wild dark hair and a nervous, animal energy started visiting my dreams. He was suspicious of civilization and preferred the company of a small red bird he carried close to his heart, over interaction with me or anyone else. But as reclusive as he was, he kept coming back — it was as if he wanted me to find out where he fit in my personal mythology. I didn’t recognize him as John the Baptist the first time I met him in a dream (I was raised Episcopalian, but have been more Buddhist than High Church since I turned twelve!). Still, I “knew” that’s who he was when I woke, and he has since confirmed his identity in free writes.
It’s because of this newest dream figure that I recently began a novel about Salomé, the young girl whose dance is supposed to have triggered his execution. My first free writes were with John, however, not the Roman dancer, and it is the shaggy prophet’s peculiar magnetism that keeps me writing, despite the challenge of researching this two-thousand year-old story. Yes, I’m sure my inner “dream director” wants to show me something about myself via this isolated, blundering, strongly intuitive character. I’m equally sure, though, that the Baptist has gifts for all of us. He’s canny and innocent, wary and courageous, and I’ll be a long, sweet time finding out why he’s chosen me.
How about you? Who or what have dreams brought to your writing? Ever written about your character’s dreams in a book? Ever woken from a dream that HAD to be turned into fiction? Do you enjoy reading dream sequences in others’ work? Or do you tend to skip over them to get to the “real stuff?” I’d love to share your thoughts about this…and your dreams!