Monday, March 31, 2014

The Imaginative Subconscious Mind

Where will this dream lead?
My current project is loosely based on the worlds created by my delightfully overactive subconscious mind (I'm actually using this post to help generate some specific details for the next installment of the novel...crossing my fingers!).

I have, for as long as I can remember, the most emotionally intense, vividly detailed, saga length dreams. Whenever I describe my dreams to other people they look at me like I'm crazy.

You know Game of Thrones?
You know the Xanth books?
How about the Valdemar books?
What about Malazan?

Yeah. Like that.

That's how I dream. Every night that I remember my dreams, it's like I've read through an entire fantasy series. Sometimes I get "best of" repeats of themes or locations. Very rarely do people repeat. Very rarely do specific situations repeat.

I dream about wars. Battles are fought between good and evil in my dreams. Philosophies are squabbled over. Demons come to claim the souls of champions who must fight them back into the pits of hell.

Loves are star-crossed. Some are unrequited. Resolution comes with a bittersweet price.

Sometimes I lucid dream. I usually think about what I'm dreaming of as I'm dreaming, but occasionally I'll actively change something. If a character from my dream thinks I need to know something, they'll respond directly to me about a thought I'm having - this always freaks me out because I'm almost never talking to them.

When I make an effort to lucid dream and I'm worried there will be a battle or a monster or something, I carry a claymore across my back (I am Scottish!). It's nearly the size of me, but I'm dreaming so I can carry it and wield it easily.  Then I kill whatever I don't like with my giant sword. When something dies, it turns to a sort of gray vapor and dissipates. I get the best of both worlds this way - no mess or gross, and satisfying destruction of whatever is bothering me.

Sometimes I dream about the future, and it comes true. This is a little unnerving and unfortunately I've never been able to really keep track of things or dream of something useful (i.e. I can't do the whole, "beware, this is a bad idea! steer clear!" or tell someone who they're going to marry, so don't bother asking.). Usually it's just a moment in time, like eating dinner at a diner or sitting in church, or knowing a conversation before it happens (Once I even dreamed an episode of Castle before it was shown - so useless.).

Typically I dream of a cluster of moments surrounding a major crossroads or life event (such as when my husband lost his job or when my son was born - both happening in the span of 2 months). And these dreams usually occur anywhere from six months to a year beforehand from what I've observed. The moments show up disguised in my crazy epic dreams, a way of thinking about things - like seeing a chessboard with people instead of pieces. Then I see them play out in real life...that's as best as I can explain it.

Yeah. My dream life is...intense.

This is how I'm able to create such crazy worlds and complex relationships in my novels. I imagine all kinds of possibilities in my subconscious mind. The more I learn, the more I incorporate.

I play out all kinds of concepts, ideas, and choices. My dreamscape is a place where I can determine where my heart really lies or come to a decision (I married my husband because of a dream. No joke. Call me crazy.).

Dream are a curious thing. Some symbols are universal, others cultural, while still others are personal. They are a point of fascination for many people, and have been a point of study for psychologists (even spawning areas like depth psychology). Needless to say, dreamscapes are a fantasy/sci-fi writer's candy factory. In the case of my current project, they (combined with my strange fascination for the paranormal) have directed many aspects of my writing.

It will be interesting to see exactly how this novel manifests itself - and even more so, what you think of it. ;-)

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