Dream on

Dreamer_mug_3Dreams and story-making walk side by side – no wonder the Aborigines speak of the Dreamtime in their creation tales. I’ve never forgotten Lucy Coats leading a shamanistic dreamĀ  journey at the SCBWI retreat in Dunford House – a powerful way to go inside your creative self.And yet I cordially dislike long dream sequences in books. They remind me too much of friends and family recounting their dreams. They amble about like an unedited first draft. (I have read books with short dreams that work once you know the character – never open with one!)

I am aware of the irony verging on hypocrisy. At my most ambitious moments, I intend my work should have a dream-like feeling reminiscent of Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bete or Powell & Pressburger’s The Red Shoes – but I often find it pretentious in others. Oh dear.


Beauty and the Beast 1946

These verge on nightmare (a post for another time) like the haunting Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr. Perhaps that’s why dreams are often feared. There’s a danger in going into that irrational chaotic part of yourself – who knows what you will find?

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;

Hamlet Act III, Scene i

Hence people’s love and distrust of surrealism or fantasy or any such dream-like perceptions as art forms – often at the same time. On the surface, they don’t make sense.

Indeed dream as a concept has been diluted in popular culture and adspeak into a kitsch adjective. Dream date I can just about get, butĀ  ‘Dream Kitchen’ must be the nadir of longing. Walter Mitty is meant to be laughable and the word dreamer can be delivered with a sneer.


Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Sugar, Emulsifiers: Propane-1, 2-diol Esters of Fatty Acids, Soya Lecithin, Milk Lactose, Milk Proteins, Whey Powder from Milk, Stabiliser: Carboxymethyl Cellulose, Flavourings, Colour: Beta-Carotene – not much dreaminess here

Yet don’t we all love it when the persistent dreamer gets their way? When their passion and hope pays off, we want to cheer. (Kathryn Evans and Jo Wyton, I’m looking at you for starters)


My beloved could steer his dreams as a child into serials. I lived in mine quite often. They gave hope. I trust I’m not ‘dreaming my life away’ like the guy in the Everley Brothers song.

Still, my dreams always go with me.

I have spread my dreams under your feet;   
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

from Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven W. B. Yeats, 1865 – 1939

8 thoughts on “Dream on

  1. But…but… ‘That irrational, chaotic part’ is also the creative part. It can seem scary, but it only bites when we ignore and suppress it. I suppose that’s what I’m always trying to show in my creative workshops – that working with it makes your writing stronger. I entirely agree about long, rambling dreams in books though! Keep on dreaming, P – I have absolute faith that someone as determined and talented as you will make it to the other side of the writing dream, so definitely keep on keeping on.

  2. I find myself thinking about my personal mission as a primary teacher. It’s something like: Achievement Through Aspiration. Where does aspiration come from? To aspire to something you need imagination and imagination flourishes in the garden of our dreams.

    • Welcome to my blog, Susan, and thanks for commenting. I love that image “the garden of our dreams”.
      Good luck with the teaching – I used to do that too.

  3. You know, the thing I liked about joining SCBWI and meeting lovely people like you isn’t that my dreams felt closer, but that it went from being something dreamed of to a reality being worked towards. I see your writing and path in exactly the same way, and I hope you do too. (And sorry it took me so long to comment – babies!)

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