Friday, February 22, 2013

"To sleep, perchance to dream: - Shakespeare

This morning I dreamt I was a back up singer for Fleetwood Mac. It was so fun. They were rocking the stadium and I was doing my back up ooos, ahhs and such to perfection. Stevie Nicks put her arm around me and called me a special guest and brought me up to the front of the stage.

I said, “What you’re hearing in this show is something you’ll never hear on a record. This is live!” The crowd went wild. What an incredible feeling hearing thousands of people roaring with joy and pleasure.

“Now it’s your turn to sing.” Stevie Nicks said to me.

“Uh okay,” I said. So I decided to sing “Wuthering Heights,” by Kate Bush. In real life I do not have the vocal range to sing this song. In my dream I did. So I started belting out the first few lines and then I couldn’t remember the rest. I was humming and lalalaing what I didn’t know. Then thankfully I woke up. Whewww.

What a crazy dream.

Dreaming is incredibly important to our health. In that 1/3 of your day you spend sleeping you are revitalized. Without sleep our bodies and especially our minds begin to degrade, eventually we will go mad and die. It is a form of torture to deprive someone of sleep. Those of us that have had sleepless nights know how truly evil it is to go without sleep.

Dreams are also the source of inspiration and understanding. Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein, as was Robert Louis Stevenson with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Sick with high fever in Italy while making Piranha 2, James Cameron saw the Terminator – a steel skeleton rising out of fire. Stephenie Meyer saw the pivotal scene that created the Twilight trilogy and Paul McCartney dreamt the melody for Yesterday. In the sciences, Dmitri Mendeleyev dreamt about the Periodic Table of Elements, Elias Howe dreamt about cannibals and sewing machine needles, which helped create the first sewing machine and Friedrich Kekule solved the chemical structure of Benzene in a dream.

In one of my favorite Bible stories, the hero Jacob is a dream interpreter and he saves people from famine by discerning what the Pharaoh’s dreams mean. Another favorite is the Hindu creation of the Universe, which came from Brahma’s dream, he awakened and said Om and the vibration brought his dream into this version of reality. In some cultures, dreaming is the true world and it exists before we’re born and will continue well after we’re gone from this plane.

Great minds like Freud and Jung invested a good deal of their work studying and defining dreaming. They knew its important place in the fabric of the human psyche. They wrote books and catalogs, spending time keeping track of their dream worlds and that of their patients.

In my writing, I try to include the sleeping dreams of my characters along with their hopes and aspirations. In fact the hero of my current historical WIP is a superstitious sailor who pays close attention to his dreams and those of the people around him. Ironically, last year I dreamt about him. He was in a museum exhibit digging a hole in the dirt to bury treasure. I was struck that his face looked thinner than I imagined and he was just a smidge taller than me. I researched and discovered that I am 5’7” the height of a tall man of that time.

Do your characters dream? What do they dream about?
 -Carmen Bydalek


Tiffinie Helmer said...

Great post, Carmen! I love dreams. I use them in my book DREAMWEAVER. It's how my hero interacts with my heroine since he was murdered. I love that moment when you wake up from a vivid dream and you lay there in bed with your eyes closed trying to figure it out or catch it again. I agree, that dreams are very powerful. Thanks for writing this.

Lizzie Newell said...

I've come to view dreaming as the brains fragmentation program. It's when the brain gets organized and rewires itself. I think the bulk of my writing work is done during sleep even if I can't remember what I dreamed about.
I'm careful about including dreams in my stories since often writers attempt to put back story in dreams and this isn't believable. I only show characters waking up from dreams and not the actual dreams. I think that moment of waking which Tiffinie writes about makes the most sense in a story.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

I haven't showed character dreams in my stories yet, might want to pursue that. Thanks for the idea, Carmen!

Violetta Rand said...

I love your thumbnail sketches on all the talented and famous people who used their dreams as inspiration. I too use my dreams this way.

Great post!