Dreams 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 dream 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.
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, but ‘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.
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