Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Books and Dreams

There is a trinity of dreams. First and chief among them is the collective dreams of our race, which guide us toward a better future and urge us to strive to make them come true. That few of these dreams have yet been fully realized never stops us from having them. We are an indomitable race, and we are patient.

Second is the only form of dreams most people are aware of: those we have as individuals while we sleep, which are considered by some scientists to be a form of subconscious mental housekeeping…a way each of us tries to resolve inner conflicts and deal with the waking world around us. The brain has often been referred to as a computer, yet in two major ways they are diametrically opposed: computers operate on the logic of the literal. They lack the flexibility necessary for dreaming. The human mind, especially when dreaming operates almost totally on what the waking brain would consider totally illogical.

The third of the trinity of dreams is what prompted this entry: those dreams which are conceived in the mind of individual artists, musicians, and writers and translated into forms which can be understood and shared by others.

I’ve always considered books to be a writer’s dreams set to paper: I know mine are. They are formed, as are all dreams, in the imagination. But unlike sleep dreams, the writer has some degree of control over them. If unable to direct the dream’s every aspect, at least the writer can consciously influence them by nudging them in certain directions. I know that some writers plot out every single step and detail of a story before actually sitting down to write. It works for J.K. Rowling, who has made more money from transcribing her dreams of Harry Potter into more money than I will ever see in ten lifetimes. But it would never work for me. The element of spontaneity, both in sleep dreams and writing, is far too crucial for me.

If writing can be compared to flowing water, the detailed-plotting method seems to be like one of Los Angeles’ drainage canals—straight as an arrow and contained within concrete walls. I prefer mine to be like a meandering river: I know where it’s going, but while I can see the bends coming up, I have no idea what lies beyond them. And I am always aware that I am not on the journey alone: the reader and I are Huck and Jim on the raft, flowing through the story together. I can’t imagine it being any other way.

People frequently ask where I get the ideas for my books…and even my blogs…and my answer is always the same: I quite honestly have no idea. They just appear. (If I can be allowed another metaphor here, I’ve often likened my “creative process” to be like the gas bubbles rising to the surface of a tar pit. I’ll be minding my own business, thinking of almost anything except where my next story/blog idea is going to come from, when I’ll be aware of something rising to the surface. I’ll watch while it emerges and forms a bubble of thought and finally bursts, leaving me with a topic or plot idea. I love it!

For me to try to explain how these bubbles form and exactly how I handle them when they do appear is as impossible as explaining how we dream what we dream when we’re asleep. I

All dreams are born and are nourished in the nursery of the subconscious, and there they remain until they are ready to emerge, either as a sleep dream or as a book or a painting or a sculpture or a symphony. Dreams are our humanity, and I cherish them, whatever form they take.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, the recently-released Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs ( ).


Gary Brown said...

"A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world."

Oscar Wilde

Kage Alan said...

You nailed it perfectly. They are our dreams. Mine are also the movies I will never get a chance to direct on the budget I want and making the majority of the decisions.

Dorien/Roger said...

Is it any wonder I chose one of Oscar Wilde's character's names as my alter ego?

And, Kage, you can still make your dreams a reality. Granted, you're asking a lot with directing and budgeting and decision making, but hey, go with them. It's only when you stop dreaming that you know your dreams will never come true.