I often hear people say that other’s people’s dreams are boring. This is something I’ve never been able to get my head around. Call me a frustrated psychoanalyst, but I find it fascinating what other people dream about. It tells you a lot about their characters. Some of my friends who I would consider more highly strung than others often seem to have a lot of anxiety dreams or even nightmares. People of the more relaxed persuasion do not seem to remember their dreams, probably meaning that they sleep deeper than others. It also gives you a fascinating insight into the essence of people: their fears, wishes and foibles.
When I first meet people, I often ask them the following two questions:
- Do you dream in colour or black and white?
- Do you see faces in your dreams?
I don’t know why I ask these question, but their unusual icebreakers and I find that even though most people hate hearing about dreams, they really love to talk about their own.
I know I sure do.
I was recently in Europe. When I got back to Australia, the jet lag was messing with my head and causing me to have very lucid dreams. At one point, I thought I was awake and I was speaking to a strange man in my room…. until my room turned into an Istanbul marketplace, so I willed the walls to collapse and bring me back to consciousness. What power the mind has! The dreams got darker each night for about a week. They culminated in a dream in which I was on a small-time journalistic mission in a country town, reporting on a school fete or something. It all seemed very wholesome until I witnessed a primary school shooting. It was really, really awful.
An awful nightmare, but great writing material!
Or is it? In writing from an inspiring dream, I would like to preserve the je ne sais quoi of the dreamscape – that surreal, nothing-really-makes-sense feeling of a dream. Can this be an effective way to write, or an engaging thing to read? I’m not sure.
Mary Shelley sure pulled it off pretty well with Frankenstein. In case you didn’t already know, she wrote the classic horror novel following a vision she had in a waking dream that went something like this:
“I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” – Mary Shelley’s introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein
To be fair, I’m probably no Mary Shelley. I can only dream of Lord Byron challenging me to write a good ghost story.
So, here‘s my attempt at experimental dream writing.
To my writer readers out there – have any of you attempted to write your dreams into a real story? How did you find it?
If any of you would like to join me in my experiment, please let me know as I would absolutely love to do some online workshopping with other fiction writers.