Tag Archives: emotions

Do you have a dream house?

I’ve just got back from a wonderful weekend in Peterborough with the Scattered Authors Society where I got into conversation with several people on the topic of dreams.

The first thing two of them mentioned was that they sometimes dream about a house. This is a house they recognise from previous dreams, but have never seen in waking life.

Lots of people have a dream-house, and when they dream about it they are usually finding a new door or room, which they have never noticed before.

I’ve heard these house-dreams interpreted in a number of ways, but I prefer not to interpret. What is interesting to me is the house itself, and the experience of exploring it.

My dream house is big and old, on three storeys. It’s long rather than square, and grows longer as I discover more and more rooms. Once, to my surprise, I discovered a complete self-contained appartment with a squatter who had been living in it for ages!

I always enter my dream house with feelings of excitement and anticipation. ‘Here I am again! What will I discover?’ I always come away feeling as if I’ve been given something wonderful.

There are slight variations  in my dream house, but it’s always the same sort of style and age, and I don’t think I’ve ever been there in the dark.

Some people’s dream-houses may not be recognisably the same building but have a strong theme which alerts them to the fact that they are in their familiar dream house. One of the authors told me his dream house is often mixed up with other people’s houses, so he has to go through someone else’s living room to get to his bedroom, for example.

Do you have a dream house? Is it old and labyrinthine, like mine? Is it always the same, or variations on a theme?

Death and the dream book

Well, I didn’t see it coming. When I finally finished my dream book last week, I was planning to break open the bubbly, but I just felt bereft.

Before I was ever published, I knew I wanted to write a book about dreams, and for twenty years, that book has been the heart of my writing life, at first a secret addiction, later an open obsession.

There have been various versions along the way, non-fiction, autobiography, novel, work-book… each new one rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the one before. I liked them all – my agents liked them too – but none of them felt exactly right.

The dream book defined me to myself, as a writer, far more than my growing body of children’s books. I’ve loved it, felt impatient with it, hated it in equal measure. I’ve wished I could put it down and get on with my  proper writing career.

And now I can. It feels like a death, but all week, I’ve been dreaming about babies. This reminds me of the Death card in Tarot, which is sometimes called Death and Rebirth.

Death in Tarot is deep change. As one situation ends, a new one begins. I don’t know what kind of writer I will be now that a third of my writing life won’t be channelled off into this dream book any more.

When I blogged about it before, I discovered that not every writer has a ‘dream book.’ http://jenalexanderbooks.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/does-every-writer-have-a-dream-book/ Although at times it has felt like a curse, I feel very blessed that I’ve had mine.

So farewell and thank you, grand passion of my writing life, and hello and welcome dream-babies of whatever is coming next.

Bubbly wine, anyone?

Next week – great excitement in the House of Dreams – Katherine Roberts will be calling in on her ‘Sword of Light’ blog tour to tell us how a workshop session she did with me helped her to find the story

How dream emotions can energise your writing

In Naomi Epel’s book, ‘Writers Dreaming,’ several of the authors interviewed say that dreams are a way they can connect with very dark places and intense emotions.

My favourite interview in the book is with Sue Grafton. She says – among many other interesting things – that she has engineered the world so that she doesn’t have to face bad guys and monsters in waking life, as everyone does. Therefore one of the ways in which dreams energise her writing is by connecting her to ‘often very visceral experiences.’

In dreams, anything can happen. We can have extremely frightening, exciting or pleasurable experiences, as we did when we were children, before we knew how to engineer our world. That means we will feel the full force of our emotions, as we did back then.

Pure emotion produces strong effects in the body. That’s what makes these experiences ‘visceral.’ Dream situations may be the only opportunity you have in adult life to truly feel the physical effects of extreme fear, dread or murderous rage; of bodily power or spiritual transcendance.

As writers, we say ‘show don’t tell.’ Rather than describing how our characters are feeling emotionally, we describe where the emotion is in their body. We make it physical, so that the reader can feel it in their body too.

Sitting at the computer, we can imagine what it is to feel these super-strength emotions, but in dreams we can actually experience it. A dream recalled is like a memory of waking life; remembering it will bring the emotions flooding back with the same physicality as when you recall events from your dayworld.

Living your dreamlife with awareness means you have more emotional experience to draw upon, as well as more situations and events. Often, the emotion is so strong it carries over into waking life even though the events of the dream may be hazy. That intensity of emotion may spark your creativity as powerfully as the actual images and narratives in your dreams.

You can only draw on these memories of dream emotions if you remember your dreams. Check out my Tips page for info about recalling and recording dreams.

Guest post: The dream that sparked the poem

Bicycling in Brighton, by Pat Neill

As a child, I spent a lot of time day-dreaming and it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I woke up to my night dreams. They came fast and furious, and I diligently recorded as many as I remembered. Analysing them helped me to understand myself in more depth. Now I’m tired of all that self-analysis and I want to follow Jenny’s idea of using them creatively. Here’s a dream that did inspire me to use it creatively.

I was driving down a long, sloping, wide-open road in a town. In front of me, a lorry had stopped. I easily glided out to overtake it and then discovered a car manoeuvring – that was why the lorry had stopped! I felt embarrassed as I stopped to let the car finish. The car moved on, with me following, and the lorry behind me.

Now, I felt myself to be on a bicycle. The ride was smooth and the feeling exhilarating as I sped on down the hill. The street was like those in Brighton/Hove that lead down to the seafront. The weather was slightly grey and misty and the vehicles had their lights on.

I woke from this dream feeling happy, confident and optimistic. In my poem, I seem to have changed the weather. I think it was the feeling after I woke from the dream that carried forward into my writing. I have always set great store in the feeling a dream leaves you with – I reckon it has to be the most important feature of the dream.

Riding High

Georgian pillared terraces sloping to the sea,
I rode my bike between them feeling wild and free.
Swiftly leaning to the right, a stopped truck to miss,
I glided past, confident, riding high.
Oh what bliss!
Once, a sudden car appeared, half blocking my way.
No matter, I had pedal power and was lord of the highway!
Wind whistling, hair streaming, on and on I sped
With salt-sea horizon and cloudless blue skies, all beckoning ahead.

I love the joyful exuberance of this poem, and Pat makes an important point about the feeling a dream leaves you with when you awake. I’ll be blogging about emotions in dreaming and writing next week.  

Pat is an astrological life coach with a brand new blog  http://astrolifecoach.wordpress.com/ She uses astrology as a tool for understanding the issues present in a person’s life and life coaching as a method for moving matters forward to effect positive change. For details email pat.neill@btinternet.com or phone 01566 779792