From Dream to Novel

light formation

For a man that says he doesn’t dream, he sure remembers a doosy of one. I am currently writing a novel, The Lights of Rosendale, that is completely inspired by a dream my boyfriend had one night.

Typically a dream lasts from a few seconds to twenty minutes and most of us have three to seven dreams a night. The succession of images, feelings, emotions, sensations, and ideas sometimes take on a life of their own if we are able to remember them when we wake up; doing so during a REM cycle you are more likely to remember the dream.

The random assortment of images, emotions, etc. are often said to be linked to our memories, recent experiences, or current thought patterns. When I dream I enjoy the search upon waking for what image was from what part of my previous day. The concoction of how my daily itinerary ends jumbled up in a dream is fun to unravel. A flash of this, a flip of that, and voila you have a new episode of what your life could have been. According to Freud, bad dreams let the brain learn to gain control over emotions from distressing situations. These dreams worry me. The ones that you have and days or weeks later the exact dream is unfolding in real life; unfolding right up to the critical moment where in your dream something evil happened. Every person is there, the setting is the same, the dialogue exact, but the drama never arrives. In real life nothing like evil happens. Unsettling. Jung supposed that dreams compensated for one-sided attitudes we were inclined to in waking consciousness. Thank goodness at some point our minds are opened up for us to see options. Others believe dreams enable us to work out things we are unable to say or feel when awake; make connections safely to things that cause us distress or regulate our moods.

His dream was a blend of the past and future; events that happened and are clearly explainable merging with events that happened with no explanation acceptable co-mingling with things only the imagination could consider. How it all ties together on paper will be fun to create.

This dream was so vivid for him and his re-telling of it to me so masterful that I now have clarity of where the story begins, where it is going, and how most of it gets there. Frantic conversations flit about in my head regarding what should be or should not be included. Staying true to his vision is all that concerns me. I don’t have the same qualms about writing his book as I do about writing my book; one I have been cerebrating for over twenty years. So far twelve chapters are outlined with multiple settings, characterizations, parallelisms, conflicts, but alas, no resolutions. He has some more dreaming to do I think. At best we have more brainstorming to do.

While the main setting includes his childhood stomping ground and a place I have never visited, I am having no trouble constructing opening chapters from his telling of tidbits about how he spent his time. I am often caught daydreaming on the mountain or in the mines of this setting as I brainstorm ideas while I am supposed to be working. This blog was written at work. One thing leads to another and I am off following a tangent up a dirt road climbing the mountain where limestone was quarried, summer forays were planned and executed, baseball was king, and NASA delivered the leap immortal. Perhaps it helps that there were historical benchmarks associated with the timeline in the setting. Fantastic events that happen few and far between in a life time. And then there were the lights of Rosendale.


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