Authors Know How To Dream

dream image

“You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true.” Richard Bach

 

People often refer to aspirations as dreams, you could certainly interpret Richard Bach’s quote to mean that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to but given Bach’s story I think he meant it in a more literal sense.

 

Richard Bach is an American writer who is most famous for his novella titled Jonathan Livingston Seagull, published in 1970. Bach began work on this story in the 1960’s, he wrote two chapters before he ran out of inspiration and set it aside. Eight years later he had a dream that enabled him to complete it and when it was published it hit the top of the New York Times Best Seller List, where it remained for 38 weeks!

 

When I was researching for this blog I found a long list of people who had achieved amazing things—all them inspired from a dream. Surprisingly the list isn’t just compiled of authors and creative types but also scientists and inventors. It was amazing to see such a variety of concepts brought to life from the act of sleeping. Stephen King once said you should use dreams the way you use mirrors—to look at something you can’t see head-on. Dreams allow us to look at things in ways we hadn’t imagined before. Maybe that’s why they have such a great impact on the creative world.

 

Some of the most well known dream-stories include; Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Misery by Stephen King and Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

 

Although no one is exactly sure why we dream or how it works we do know it plays a vital part in our digestion of life. We all know that dreams can reflect current issues in our lives but sometimes they are also filled with random and terrifying ideas that we are afraid to believe are our own. In some cases it allows us to tackle issues we wouldn’t normally think about and it opens our mind to new ideas. Clearly dreams are a resource all writers should be tapping into.

 

Luckily for me I had a bit of a dream obsession in my teenage years, I kept a dream journal for a couple of years and it trained me to remember them when I first woke up. It has been a long time since I’ve written one down but I usually remember at least one dream per night without putting in any conscious effort. So far I haven’t had one that inspired a storyline for a book, and no matter how much time and energy I put into my writing I have never dreamt of the characters in my books either. But I believe the potential is there, one day any one of us could have a dream that changes our lives.

 

The great thing about being a writer is you can make any dream come true, to finish Bach’s quote, “You may have to work for it, however.”

 

Writing Is My Drug …

writing is my drugThis morning I was reading Stephen King’s On writing – A Memoir of the Craft, which is an amazing book I’d love to share more detail on, but that’s another blog entirely. For today I’ll just focus on one aspect. He talks briefly about the idea put forward by many artists that creativity and mind altering substances go hand in hand. Stephen King himself suffered from addiction, first alcohol then drugs. At the time he was afraid that without them he would lose his ability to be creative, even though he started writing long before he started drinking. Once he’d overcome these addictions he realised it was a myth.

It made me think about the idea and how many musicians, writers, painters, etc. claim drugs enhance their creativity but I have to say in my mind it couldn’t be more opposite. I’m not going to get on my high-horse and say these people shouldn’t take drugs, it’s  a personal choice, if that’s what works for them that’s fine but ultimately Stephen King said it right. “Hemingway and Fitzgerald didn’t drink because they were creative, alienated, or morally weak. They drank because that’s what alkies are wired up to do.”

I don’t take drugs and I don’t drink but that’s not to say I haven’t in the past. In fact despite my current herbal tea, yoga and meditation ritual I used to be quite a party animal. The truth is: ever since writing became such an active part of my life I no longer feel the need to engage in any of that. I still socialise and go to parties, I dance and laugh—I absolutely know how to have a good time but getting wasted doesn’t tempt me in the slightest.

I certainly have never bordered near the extreme of alcoholic but I won’t lie, it used to be a means of escape. When I was unsure of myself and my mind was constantly racing I didn’t know what else to do with myself. Sometimes when I needed to relax there was nothing quite like a beer at the end of the day.  I guess it also enhanced social situations but in reality I do just fine without it. It’s just that writing has now substituted it completely. I no longer have thousands of thoughts and ideas trapped in my head, they have an outlet and the more creativity there is in my life the more balanced I feel.

The imagination is an amazing place, I don’t think it needs substances to make it richer. If you want to take drugs take drugs but don’t say you have to do it for the sake of your art. If you feel the inclination to be creative chances are it’s because your brain is built that way. Regardless of whether you take drugs or not it’s going to exist. If you’ve taught yourself you can only work when you’re under the influence then that’s probably what will happen. Take all of that away—the creativity still exists you just need to give it a chance to find its own way out.

“Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”

Amen Stephen King.