Writing your dreams...

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Writing your dreams...

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feb 10, 2008, 10:41 pm

Today I heard an interview with Carlos Fuentes and he said:

"What you write are the dreams you don't remember."


feb 11, 2008, 12:28 am

I never understood Carlos Fuentes.

Certainly dreams can be inspiration for written stories. Or band names. lol.

My magical thinking sees the stories I am 'given' as being some divine gift from the collective unconscious. It's like I receive them through an intangible conduit. And they are to do with as I wish. But these stories aren't the same as dreams.

Dreams are still poorly understood in this age of high tech science. Sometimes the idea that they are neural house keeping makes sense to me and sometimes the idea that they are hallowed gifts is more appropriate.


feb 11, 2008, 1:01 am

I often think about writing short stories based on my dreams. (I come from a long line of sleepwalkers, and I think it's because of this that I - and my brothers - have amazing dream recall. Two or three per night, can remember them perfectly.)

Anyway, I came to the conclusion that my dreams were too dark to make good stories.

I used to have this horrible nightmare - recurrent - that I had to go to this elderly lady's mansion and take care of her, but she turned out to be evil and I had to escape in a dumbwaiter.

Another recurrent nightmare from childhood: a huge gorilla in a yellow skirt with purple flowers went on a rampage during a family picnic at the elementary school.

And today my dreams are just doom, doom, doom.

They just wouldn't work as stories. They're all too far-fetched, and always have a hint of terrifying sadness. I could probably write them and get some sort of cult following... but for the real world, no.

feb 11, 2008, 1:21 am

I've written songs that I believe came from dreams I don't remember (and some I do remember). I've had the experience of waking up and having an almost completed song by the time I pick up my guitar. (It's been years since this happened, but still....) Perhaps it's the Muse visiting me when I'm still and receptive and not in my monkey mind.

feb 11, 2008, 2:17 am

Many writers have made the point that our stories come from the same place as dreams. They say that if you "think" too much, you kill the story. I have to say it works this way for me. You don't have to literally transcribe your dreams to write from that place, just use the same faculty that creates the deep, rich imagery.

feb 11, 2008, 4:31 am

There's the anecdote about Paul McCartney getting up one morning and picking out the song "Yesterday", describing it as a such a fully-formed "egg" that he didn't believe at first that it came out of his head. He thought it must've come from somebody else, only he couldn't remember who.

He sat on the song for months before recording it, wanting to make sure that it was really his.

feb 11, 2008, 8:47 am

There's a book that came out last fall called HEAD TRIP by Jeff Warren that discusses the dream state and altered awareness. Hynagogic and-pompic processes, the science of sleep. Here's the homepage, looks interesting.


Redigeret: feb 11, 2008, 9:08 pm

I think the dream-place and the fiction-place are allies, but not the same thing. My dreams tend to make sense only to me, and only if I spend a few minutes analyzing them after I wake up. Even when I don't understand them, I often feel a deep fascination with my dreams, but a sure-fire way to bore someone (not what we strive to do when writing fiction!) is to recount a dream in precise detail. Most of the time the details have meaning only to the person who dreamed them. I have had experiences where I dreamed I had written a brilliant short story or come up with a fabulous plot for a novel. Alas, on fully awakening, their fatal flaws were apparent.

Nevertheless, I looove your gorilla in the flowered skirt, Ambushed - probably an obnoxious classmate you couldn't allow yourself to be mad at on the conscious level.

I do often solve writing problems in the morning space between sleeping and waking. Also, on rare occasions, a dream will leave me with an image that, when interpreted, gives me valuable guidance on how to solve a writing problem.

feb 12, 2008, 6:31 pm

I have a side question, not exactly OT, but not dreams, either. Are any of the writers in this group epileptic and if so, is there any part of the seizure process that enhances your creativity?

feb 13, 2008, 9:28 pm

Interesting question! Dostoyevsky, of course, was epileptic, and he certainly used that experience in his fiction - most overtly in The Idiot, which was always a favorite of mine.

mar 27, 2008, 2:04 am

I read an art book about training your mind to access a particular part of your brain in order to improve ones ability to draw. One of the exercises was drawing a complicated picture up side down. This is done because the left? brain wont recognize the image that is upside down and wont be called into use and the right? brain can take over for that drawing. Then the reader was suposed to feel the experience of being in the zone. I hypothesized that the "zone" is the same zone that I feel that I must access for writing.

Yes I am epileptic, but after a seizure (grand mal) I can not remember a thing (usually to from a day before the seizure) and end up with a terrible headache. Not one my more creative times. I also get partial seizures, and with those I don't notice a difference with creativity. Also, the medicine that I take to control the seizures, wipes out any and all morsels of creativity that I would have possessed. Why do you ask?

mar 28, 2008, 12:45 pm

I asked the question about epilepsy because in an undergraduate course on the biology of the brain we studied epilepsy briefly (Alpha wave entrainment is about all I remember from that part of the course). Anyway, it came up that some few creative geniuses were epileptics, such as Dostoevski, who claimed his epilepsy helped his creativity. I've been curious about the epileptic effect ever since.

That and I just have a curiosity about things I have no direct knowledge of.

mar 29, 2008, 12:52 pm

Obviously I am not an expert, with only one data point. I wonder if the locality of the seizures has anything to do with affecting creativity, or the type of seizures. Also, whenever I have a seizure I have loaded up on additional medicine immediately after, hence squashing any creative effects that may have happened. I suspect that Dostoevski, considering he was living in the 1800's, did not have the medicines that we take today for epilepsy.