One of the reasons I love having guests in the House of Dreams is because they can surprise me with a new angle on writing and dreams. Here, Nicole Tilde talks about the creative treasure that can be found in what I call dream fragments, or ‘tiny dreams.’
She said to me in a dream, “Give me your knees child!”
And I did.
It got me thinking about poetry And how it starts with the knees
If I were to teach a poetry class
We would begin with the knees
I would teach the importance
Not of kneeling
But in hard work In finding your true north
We would walk through tall grass
And find the mud
Deep Into the lines
Of our skin We would clear paths
And uncover ourselves
From beneath the bloodstone
And polished quartz
We would wander in silence
And not write a thing
Wait for that moment
When the healing of the work
Runs through your skin
Like a shimmering blue skink In the mapled wind
This poem was inspired by a Tiny Dream. Tiny dreams are the little vignettes or scenes that are often ignored or discarded as random. Tiny Dreams come to me as colors, objects, phrases, or flashes of feelings. They are not always connected to plot, place or scene.
One of the most common comments I hear from people is that their dreams are random or meaningless. But I wonder what a random dreamer might think of someone grabbing their knees and saying, “Give me your knees, child!” For me, the meaning in this short dream segment was large, full and sweeping. It was a window, a door, a threshold into poetry. We can find these openings everywhere if we are open to the experience.
What do I know about knees? Why would I give the power of my knees over to anyone? Unless perhaps, she came to heal me. Unless she was the crone who visits me so often, the Baba Yaga of my personal myth. The one with the faces of many.
I opened myself to the message. I let the window sash fly.
I garden on my knees. I might greet the wonder of the sun on my knees. I might approach someone younger than me on my knees. I could pray on my knees. We get on our knees to do the hard work. When I am full of regret or spinning off my center of conviction, I might lose the strength to stand on my own two feet, become weak in the knees. I might also become weak in the knees when I’m falling in love.
Knees are pretty important. I could see the significance of what I was asked to give in this dream. It was not random at all.
Just as we give ourselves over in our dreams, in poetry there is a moment of giving the writing over to the story beneath the story, to the river of awen. And beyond this there is a process of collecting the objects, events or dream symbols we’ve noticed, and then connecting the pieces.
I went to the river.
During the days prior to this dream I had worked in the yard, cutting paths through a corner of the property. I had been in the garden a lot, and I was reminiscing about how the hard work of gardening was a lot like writing. The pieces from this experience connected with the meaning of ‘giving over my knees,’ and I sat down and wrote this piece, ‘Poetry Class.’
What kind of class would that be, just wandering in silence, not writing a thing? What kind of poetry class offers you the chance to notice the blue skinks, this is what we call the blue lizards here in Georgia, and the maple leaves dancing in the wind? But this is exactly what I would teach. Afterwards, I might send everyone home with the instructions to dream.
Poetry is about noticing, collecting, tiny-dreams, the stories that drift beneath the stories. It’s about being present. It’s not about analyzing, but letting the events of our lives sink in and run all over our skin.
And the hard work? We give over our knees by doing the daily work of being a writer, a poet, an artist, by doing the hard work every day. To find true north we walk every day towards the star of our desire. One step. One word. One line. One sentence.
She said to me in a dream, “Give me your knees, child!” And I did.
Nicole Tilde is a prose writer. Her work echoes the many storytellers who have gone before her. The storytellers who have unknowingly pitched for emotion by opening readers to feelings they thought were lost. Her stories are of the everyday, of finding the sacred in the mundane and recognizing everyday objects as talismans. She publishes within her membership site at dream-speak.com You can find samples of her writing at nicoletilde.com or you can connect with her on her Facebook page.
14 thoughts on “How tiny dreams can be big openings into writing, by Nicole Tilde”
Lovely post – as Goethe wrote, nothing is insignificant and that’s so true of dreams.
‘Nothing is insignificant’ – such a simple philosophy, which makes life so much more intriguing and colourful
We can certainly find meaning anywhere. Even in the tiniest of details. It’s all so fascinating!
What a lovely, thought-provoking post and what a beautiful poem. I too experience regular dream fragments, often of prints – colour patterns and designs which carry a mood, but I’ve never thought how I could use them in my writing… I will now! Thanks, Jenny and Nicole, for sharing this.
I’m glad you enjoyed it Abi – I was delighted when Nicole sent it to me. I encourage people in workshops to use these bright fragments but I’d never thought of blogging about it, and Nicole describes her process so beautifully
Abi I get many ideas for my writing from my dreams. I think Joseph Campbell said that our dreams are our personal myths. I totally agree with this.
I love it. Ms. Tilde’s voice reminds me of poet and playwright Pat Schneider’s…why on earth does she specify that she is a prose writer?
Good point, Sharon – I wondered that too. Now I’m off to research some Pat Schneider…
Now I have to find out who Pat Schneider is. And I guess I should add poetry to my bio as well. I write more stream of consciousness prose than anything. I find it hard sometimes to define my own work.
Well, whatever you decide to call it, it’s lovely!
I’ve added poet to my bio Sharon – thanks!
Never underestimate the power of dreams. Back in the early 1980s, when I wanted to be an actor, I saw an ad for a talent agency in California. They were asking prospective performers to complete an application and return it to them with something like $400 to secure an audition spot at a TV studio. They would then create a package for each individual with that video to send out to various casting directors. I requested the application and filled it out immediately upon receiving it; then prepared to send them a money order. The night before I planned to visit a local post office to buy the money order I dreamed of a man warning me not to do it. I woke up and changed my mind. I had a sick feeling about the entire mess. Not long afterwards I saw a piece on “Entertainment Tonight” about that very company; the California attorney general was investigating them. They had taken thousands of dollars from unsuspecting would-be actors and actresses.
I could recount the myriad other dreams I’ve had in the decades since, but I don’t want to give away any story ideas. 😉
What a great story! I’ve never been led astray by the advice given to me in dreams. I had a dream recently that led me to do some research on creating a will to protect my writing. Neil Gaiman, the writer best known for the Sandman books, has a dummy will on his website just for this thing. I don’t think many writer’s even think about this sort of thing. That dream led me to some valuable information.
I’ve discovered Pat Schneider today and now I’m going to check out Neil Gaiman’s website… thank-you!