Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From a spark to a flame

I'm sure Freud would have something to say about this. Or perhaps there is a dream weaver out there who could shed some light on the subject. Or maybe, just maybe, a dream is just a dream.

(Quick trivia: was the movie Inception inspired by The Princess Bride? Answer below.)

I have this reoccurring nightmare where I'm about to finish school and there is a class I need to complete to graduate, but I haven't been there all semester--in fact, I'm not even sure when and where it meets. But, I have hope that if I find it, I can take the final and perhaps pass. Most often than not, it's an English class.

Quick side note: being dyslexic, I was always a terrible speller growing up. English classes often have spelling as part of their curriculum, so rarely did I get a good grade. I never thought I'd get my minor in English, let alone become a published author. However, as I got older, I came to realize something: there are these wonderful people called "editors" (shout out to Tristi and Kayla!) who let my imagination run wild without having to stop every two minutes to wonder if I typed something else that sounds like the word in my head. Example: my first drafts almost always have "has" in place of "as" and vice-versa--and bless my dyslexic mind, I just don't see them.

But back to dreams. There is also the reoccurring one where I can float just about an inch or so off the ground. And if I concentrate hard enough, I can actually get myself to rise higher--sometimes so high I can levitate over large objects, like walls or buildings.

What does this have to do with getting ideas for writing? The Hidden Sun was based on a very vivid dream I had one night. I woke up and remembered it well enough that I could share it with my wife. In doing so, I remembered it even more. She said, "That's interesting. You should write that down."

So, I did.

Then I got thinking about what happened to the characters before and after the dream. And, tada! I had my first idea for a book.

For me, I often get ideas for books or storylines or blogs from dreams--of the day or night variety. I have an app on my smartphone where I can jot down little snippets. Most of the time, these ideas are "sparks" that get fanned and have fuel added to become a flame.

What's been a lot of fun for the current book I'm writing is that it's based on a song from Chris de Burgh called The Mirror Of The Soul. While the story in the song itself is compelling, I needed to add things to it in order to flush it out into a full blown book. In this case, I'll listen to random songs by Mr. de Burgh and use the stories or even a line here or there for inspiration. (And yes, I got permission from his manager, publisher and even Mr. de Burgh himself before I proceeded)

As for the other dreams? To psychoanalyze myself, I'd say my dream of failing a class is tied to something I've forgotten to do, either in real life, or in my writing, that is very important. And for the levitating? Well, perhaps in a world where many people are trying to push you down, and tell you that you can't do things, it's my mind telling me that I can if I just try.

Trivia Answer:


  1. I usually forget my dreams and have just the vaguest memory that I even had one when I wake up. I wish I could get ideas through dreams. That seems like a fun way to get them!

  2. I have had those kind of school stress dreams SO MANY TIMES! Urrrgh!

    But sadly, I've never gotten a good idea for a book in a dream. I did once dream that the villain from my novel was chasing me and I hid under a bush.

  3. I have that some recurring dream, only it's usually math class. Many of my short stories were inspired by my dreams.