Monday, May 3, 2010

Perchance to Dream

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on..."

RHYS: Sorry to be waxing so Shakespearean today. At least it proves that I did occasionally pay attention in English class!But my blog today is on dreams.

Recently I haven't been feeling too well, battling a stomach complaint, and one of the things that has happened is that I have difficulty sleeping. I fall asleep just fine, then wake at midnight or one o'clock wide awake and not able to sleep again. So my sleep pattern has become horribly disturbed.
This is hard to accept for me, who has always been the sort of person who zonks out the moment my head touches the pillow and wakes again when it's light. And because my sleep has been disturbed, I've been doing less dreaming. I'm currently writing a new Molly book and I've been finding it hard going. I wondered why, as I have such a great story in my head, until it occurred to me that maybe the lack of dreaming may have something to do with it.
So I'm wondering--does a writer or other creative person need to dream to create? Do all creative people dream all the time and vividly? My theory is now that we need that brain rewiring, cleaning and debugging before we can create. We may also need those dreams to pre-plan where we are going with the story,

I have always had incredibly vivid dreams--always in color and with the five senses often involved. I taste food, enjoy scents, hear music , even better than a great movie, or even more terrifying if it's a nightmare. One of the best courses I took at college was one on dream pschology. It was in Germany and taught by an eminent German dream psychologist. So ever since then I can interpret my own (and my friends') dreams. Of course most dreams are only the brain reexamining and processing events of the day, or descrambling crossed wires, but certain symbols are pertinent and recurring dreams always mean something.

I often dream the stress dreams--rushing to catch the train, trying to pack my clothes before I miss the flight or finding myself in school with an exam I can't finish. It's funny that the stress dreams are always school and not college. I geuss college was an all around good experience for me. But if I'm dreaming something odd and different, I talk it through and often find that I use the words to tell me what's wrong. An example: a friend said she kept on dreaming she ran into Marks and Spencer(the big department store in England) and she wanted to buy something but they were closing and the shelves were amost empty. She asked what it meant. I told her that she'd given the clue by choosing Marks and Spenser as her store. She'd always wanted to go go art school. Her parents had sent her out to get a job instead and she'd always regretted it. Hence she dreamed of going to a place where there were "marks" which we say instead of grades in UK. But she's worried she's left it too late.

So if you have a dream you want interpreted, ask me.And fellow Jungle Reds--do you dream a lot and vividly? Do you think that is something common to all creative people,ANDhave you ever dreamed a good plot that you've later used?

JAN: I dream A LOT and vividly. Sometimes I dream really loud sounds that wake me up. My brain switches right into wild dreams even as I doze off. I have to meditate with my eyes open so it doesn't happen.
Last night I dreamt I was making YOUTUBE videos for a living. It was a lot of fun, but I have yet to incorporate a dream into life or even a plot.
When I was a health reporter, I interviewed a Harvard brain researcher who was convinced that we used our dream cycles to process the trauma and emotion in our life. And that was one of the reasons people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) couldn't process their trauma -- because the trauma itself interrupted the dream cycle. So that could also support your theory on creativity, Rhys. The brain needs to rest and mend to process life and create.

ROBERTA: First of all Rhys, I'm very sympathetic to the sleep problems. I've had them for a while, and lately of just the variety you describe: wake up at 2-3 pm and lie there for hours. I've had several people recommend melatonin and I'm going to try it.
On to dreams: As a psychologist I was always listening for them. I was not taught to interpret certain dream figments as having meaning in themselves, but to explore the patient's thoughts and associations around the dream. In other words, the dream might reveal thoughts/problems/feelings that the person was not aware of in conscious life. And as Rebecca Butterman would say, the more we know about ourselves, the less we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
I have two unpleasant recurring dreams. One involves driving a car backwards downhill out of control. Haven't had that for a while and hope not to!! The second (I had a variation of this last night) is a golf dream. I'm trying to hit the ball off the tee, but I can't get my tee into the ground, or the fairway is extremely narrow or even a tunnel. I think it's very much like those school anxiety dreams but a different setting. I only wish I would dream a good plot--I could use one about now!

HANK: Oh, Roberta, I've never ever had a golf dream. (And I must say those have a bit of Freudian overtones...but I'll leave that to the experts.)
Yes, the school dreams: classes that disappear, tests I should have known about, rooms that I can't find. Also about TV, with the time ticking by and I had no implement to write my story for the news with. Once I woke up in the middle of the night, stressed and terrified, having been dreaming that I was writing on my notepad with a fingernail since there were no pencils. For years I was plagued with those.

Then one night I had a dream that I was in a play. Curtain up--and I had no idea what I was supposed to do onstage. I didn't know the words or the steps. And then, in the dream, I said to myself: This is a dream. So no problem. And besides, I know the words and the steps. I never had the dream again.
Now, I dream in beautiful color about a house I didn't know I had. It's the same house every time, with secret gorgeous rooms full of wonderful things. And I could describe it to you perfectly.

HALLIE: It's so nice to know everyone else has those anxiety dreams. The play. The exams. The class I'm taking but I don't know when it meets or where. Last night I dreamed that, in addition to having two magazine articles and a novel to complete, four weeks of travel to take, and my daughter’s August wedding to plan, my husband and I had sold our house and needed to move. I had no trouble interpreting that. It’s the too-much-to-do-so-you-might-as-well-give-up dream.
Once I had a great dream (I can’t remember what it was about) and woke thinking: I can use that in a book. I wrote it down and in the morning there was a piece of paper on my bedside on which I’d scrawled “pink gravy.” Or at least I think that’s what it said.

RHYS: I've had the car rolling backward downhill and the play dreams. In the latter I'm standing in the wings and I suddenly realize I have no idea what I'm supposed to say when I make my entrance. This dream goes two ways for me, either I rush around trying to find the script, or I step onstage and apparently whatever I say or do is brilliant and people applaud.

And the lovely house, Hank... it was suggested that a house can be a symbol for ourselves. If we see the house with dark and scary side rooms there are parts of ourselves where we don't want to go. So your lovely house shows a great happy self image--at least according to me. Roberta may disagree.

So has anyone out there ever dreamed a complete plot?

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