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  • February 25th, 2008 | 9:17 AM
The dreaming writer

I have always tried to use the power of my subconscious to do some work for me when I am sleeping. If I am in the middle of a book I will give myself a sleep question before bed in the hope that the answer will come to me in a dream. And often it does. Lately, as I work my way back to words, I am giving myself a lot of sleep intentions that have to do with writing. I work hard to remember my dreams before getting out of bed, looking for insights into how my brain works when I'm not awake to put shackles around it in an attempt to control it.

I share them not because they are earth shattering but because they are not. They are the dreams of an ordinary writer trying to make sense out of her ordinary life.



Dream from 2/16/08
I was watching a young girl at a desk. I don't think anyone else even knew I was in the room. Some woman said something to her and she started to write. I realized she was in an editor's office. I don't know what kind. She handed the woman her page and the editor said it was very good. That there was lots to work with and that she was looking forward to working with her on it. I stepped back into the shadows more and listened to the conversation about what she should do next and how she should proceed. Suddenly the girl was writing like crazy and getting all this encouragement from everyone in the room. One woman told her she needed to get her picture taken because she would need it for the press. The next thing I saw was a girl rearranging because she needed a place to write.



Afterthoughts
We have been in our new home just a few weeks shy of a year now. When we moved in the only two rooms we painted were the library and my office. The library is so warm and welcoming and gives you a "hug" the minute you walk in. My office is bright and airy and, well, I never work in it. Which means I work on the couch with the laptop resting on a pillow between my legs. That's fine for blog posts or playing Scrabulous. Not so much for writing a novel.

Since that dream I've taken a good look at the office and what does and doesn't work for me. While both the library and my office have the vaulted beam ceiling, the library was left natural. But the previous owners painted my office beams white. I am going to paint them to match the wood in the library, lower the ceiling and increase the coziness factor. While I love the pale yellow I think the room is too bright for work. I am looking at sage greens now. Most importantly (and actually the most difficult) is covering the windows. I have two patio doors that leave me feeling exposed (since we removed 99% of all the plants in the backyard and neighbors can look over the fence into the house.) Drapes will warm up the room but will have to always be partway open in order to allow the dog to keep watch over her domain. So I am going to look at some wood blinds with a block-out liner. That way I can leave the one section up partway for the dog.

There are other things to be covered in the room as well, two sets of French doors and a small window at the end of the room. It is no wonder it doesn't feel as cozy. I'd take out the small window if I could but for now, I just need to cover it up.

The most important aspect of the room (and the dream) was the desk. Currently I have two desks in my office. One is working well, the other one, not so much. The two desks are back-to-back. When you come into the room there is a big antique library table. It's the perfect place to write notes by hand or spread out research books. On the other side is the computer desk. But it is (and has been for a while) too small. Once I have the laptop and the docking station and the big monitor on there there is no place left for a piece of paper or a cup of tea. So I am searching for a new, larger computer desk that will work in the room. (Like one of those old oak teacher desks.)

All this began from a dream.



Dream night 2/18/08
Last night I gave myself the sleep intention to dream about what is keeping me cut-off from writing, from being fully present in the moment and how I could change it. I had three short dreams.

First I dreamt I was trapped like a mummy but instead of with cloth, it was some kind of plaster. Only my eyes and mouth were visible. I couldn't hear anything.
 
Then I dreamt there was this tiger laying on his back in the swimming pool - sprawled like arms to each side, just drifting along as happy as could be.
 
Then I dreamt I was in a pool with a whale and I had my arm around his "neck" and I was dragging him away to the ocean, to freedom.

 

Afterthoughts
I am feeling trapped by something, still, perhaps myself. I am not sure what it means to that I could see and talk but not hear. Perhaps I am not listening to something, to someone that I should.

A tiger is a strong hunter, a powerful animal. I do not know what it means in my life but I felt like the power was there for the taking.

I liked the idea that I was taking the whale to freedom but I wonder why I was working so hard to save someone else and why I won't work that hard to save myself?

2/24/08
I had this dream while I was at a 3 day writing conference. I had spent the conference just trying to connect with people for talking about how writing and creativity fit into their lives. Just trying to learn how other people made it work from them.

In the dream one of the women from the conference came to my house (I knew it was my house but it didn't look anything like the house I live in) I walked her all over the house and told her all about my writing and all the wonderful ideas I had for simplifying my life, getting back on track, writing the stories I meant to write. She was very encouraging, kept saying, "yes! yes! yes!" and then she started to drag me out of the house toward her car. My husband came home then and I started telling him all about this fabulous day that the two of us had had, how exciting it was, how motivated I was. He got all excited with me, FOR me.

Then the woman pulled me out of the house and opened her car door. I had a hold of my husband's hand. She shut the door and he was left on the outside. I had to tell him that he couldn't go with me.



Afterthoughts
I confess, at first this dream made sad and a bit afraid. I didn't want to have to choose between my husband and my writing. But then I realized that of course the writing is the one place he can't go with me. When I think about why the dream scared me I had to think about what my husband means to me. He is my safe zone. He is the one who has given me the comfort and security that I need in order to go deep with my writing. I remember reading this wonderful quote by Pat Schneider that said (paraphrasing) "You can write as powerfully and as deeply as you want, provided you feel safe."

It was that quote which made me realize that my husband had helped create a safe haven for me that allowed me to write the painful story of Hugging the Rock

Which must mean that it is time for me to go deep, once more, knowing that he is there waiting for me, making it safe enough for me to write the truth.

contemplative
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.



Comments

( 11 comments — Leave comment )
d_michiko_f
February 25th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
Very cool! I just bought a Dream book my friend (who want to the Bay Area dream writing workshop) recommended.
susanwrites
February 26th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
Did your friend go to Maureen Biro's workshop? She's fabulous!!! (Also a dear friend and we were in a first critique group together, many, many years ago.)
d_michiko_f
February 26th, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
Was that the one in San Francisco last year? If so, that's the one! :) My friend said it was a fantastic workshop!
beckylevine
February 25th, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
Susan,

What a wonderful post. I need to try this, to think/dream about my MC and see what it is she wants. Or what I want for her?

So much of these dreams seems to me about you being pulled by things & people outside of you. About you having to deal with their needs. Or maybe I'm just reading into what you've written. We can't shut ourselves off from people we love, obviously, but we can maybe give at least equal time to ourselves.

I tease my father. You know the golden rule that says, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Or something like that? Well, I joke that sometimes, my father's golden rule is do unto others way more than you would ever ask them to do for you.

My mother's is, yes, but sometimes you have to take care of yourself!

The sanity of balance--not easy to get there.
susanwrites
February 26th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
I highly recommend asking your main character a question before bed. I did that a lot in the early stages with one book - sometimes just asking "What do you want?" night after night will yield interesting results.

Yes, I am pulled in many directions and the last thing I do/pay attention to, is myself. It is the hardest habit to break though one that will likely yield the best results.
faerie_writer
February 25th, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
Wow. I thought your dreams and your interpretations of them were very insightful. The only thing I can think to add is about the whale. A whale in a dream usually represents your own intuition and awareness. So, you really weren't freeing someone else. You were freeing yourself. :)
susanwrites
February 26th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
Oh I like what said about the whale too! Thank you.
(Deleted comment)
susanwrites
February 26th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
How cool that you got a scene from a dream! I really find it productive and glad I'm not the only one.
mirtlemist
February 26th, 2008 12:23 am (UTC)
According to Animal-Speak, tigers are excellent swimmers, which "gives them ties to all the energies and mystical qualities so often associated with the element of water." If a tiger is your totem, it says your most effective work is accomplished at night. There's also a lot of mysticism surrounding the power of the new and full moons connected with the tiger.

"If a tiger has entered your life, you can expect new adventures. It will awaken new passion and power within life."

Any of that sound good? :)
susanwrites
February 26th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)
I don't know if a tiger is my totem (how can I figure that out?) but I do like what you said. Thank you!
mirtlemist
February 26th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. One way to tell is if you begin seeing tiger synchronicities - they show up in your dreams, you suddenly see them everywhere, people mention them, etc., more than usual. They can be totems for a day, a period of time, and/or a guardian for life. So, maybe this one just showed up for a pep talk :)
( 11 comments — Leave comment )
WHO AM I?



Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.






Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
--Bonnie Friedman

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"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
--Anne Rice

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