No, no I am not planning on bedding agents and editors in exchange for publication. No sexual impropriety here. Sorry to disappoint. I’m employing my dreams as a muse and mentor. Growing up discussing my dreams with my family was commonplace, and as an adult, the tradition continues. It’s a conversation with my unconscious, and one of the few times I’ll take my own advice.
Last night, I dreamt I was on a boat in the ocean. The waves tossed me and the boat all over the place. I remember struggling not to fall over. As the dream progressed, the boat found calmer water. When I woke up, I reached for my dream dictionary to find out what it meant and scribbled everything down in my journal.
Let's take a deeper look at my dream. Deconstructing a dream helps you understand the different parts at work, and, eventually, determine what your unconscious is telling you. Water symbolizes the emotions. Calm water represents positive emotions. Rough water represents negative emotions. Under water represents the desire to delve deeper into the emotions. Since water winds its way into my dreams often, I tend to pay extra attention.
Moving on to the boat carrying me through the water. The possible symbolism of the boat includes hopes and fears for the immediate future. Since the boat was being tossed around by the waves, the dream warns of conflict or emotional turmoil to come. But the dream ends with the boat in calmer seas, which can also mean a transition from a negative emotional state to a positive one.
I’m sure you saying to yourself, “My dreams tend to be the last thing I saw or read before I fell asleep,” or “I don’t think my dreams are telling me anything.” Ok, dreams may not always tell us something about ourselves, but they can be a great source for story ideas. Back in October of 2010, I had a dream that wouldn’t leave me so I ran downstairs and wrote it down. That dream went on to inspire the mystery novel I’m currently writing.
Besides the role of muse, my dreams lend professorial advice on symbolism. Symbolism can be found on the page of almost every novel, and the ability to include this literary term without appearing obvious and trite requires skill and practice. By analyzing my dreams, I’m learning different symbols I can incorporate in my writing and ways to present it.
The more I know about symbolism through the interpretation of my own dreams the more my writing improves. So, tonight, put a journal or a piece of paper and pen next to your bed. When you wake up tomorrow, write down everything you remember. Consult a dream dictionary (Dream Moods or Dictionary of Dreams by Rose Inserra) to decode your unconscious, refining your skills or let it inspire your next story.
What reoccurring themes from your dreams can transcend into your own writing? What experiences do you have using symbolism in your writing?