Writers Dreaming

book by Naomi Epel

annotation by David A. Napier

Writers Dreaming is a collection of essays by 26 authors who share their experience, strength and hope, with respect to writing, and the influence that dreams have upon their work.  There are common threads among many of these pieces.  Many refer to the psychological influence of Sigmund Freud.  Many say they never use dreams in their work.  Many tell stories of how the dreams influenced them and helped them to carve out new dimensional experience which never would have surfaced had it not been for a significantly vivid dream.

Beyond their dreams, most of the authors describe in great detail how they organize their lives, their writing lives that is, to enter into the world of the proverbial fictive dream.  Techniques, as varied as the writers themselves, are applied to help them enter the fictive dream.  Some meditate, some organize their thoughts, some organize their desks or work areas, while others magically drop into the dream after they start writing and the work overtakes them.  They cannot explain it but perhaps by metaphor or analogy, but when it does they feel it take over.  Entering the fictive dream is a feeling, a feeling process which overwhelms them.

In my fictive dream experience, it’s all about me, and it should be, it’s my work.  Well, that’s not entirely true because after I segue into the dream, I cease to exist.  I disappear.  The characters take over and the authentic voices of the characters come alive.  For me it’s like a holographic experience on Star Trek.  I’m standing there in the middle of this fantasy, a created scene, and the action happens around me.  I watch.  I observe.  I look for the vivid details in the story.  And just when I say it’s time for lunch, I look up and it’s four o’clock in the afternoon.  I awake from the dream and there it is.  I don’t have to worry about forgetting, as with most dreams that flit away in seconds, it’s there in black and white on the page.

But sometimes I’m eyeballs deep in a fictive dream and creating the most magnificent prose the world has yet to read.  It’s breathtaking, and I relish in the glory of creating a masterpiece beyond any yet seen by the naked eye.  I wrap up my day and pat myself on the back because I know a true artist is in the room, and I am the only one there.

The next morning, however, I open my laptop and reread this literary, pièce de résistance, and discover it’s rotten.  It’s not a fictive dream.  It’s a nightmare in black and white.  What was I thinking?

I can’t always control or predict the outcome of the dream.  Sometimes it’s magical, sometimes it’s maniacal, and sometimes it’s just not happening – it’s just not.  I have “not” days when it’s not happening and I’m not into it.

My favorite lesson to extrapolate from this book comes from page 66.  Sue Grafton says, “The truth of the matter is that if you give yourself away every single time, you fill up like a well.  It always replenishes itself.”

Entering the fictive dream is an investment that keeps earning interest.  Don’t always bank on that advice, but if you dream hard enough it may come true.


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