I have always tried to use the power of my subconscious to do some work for me when I am sleeping. If I am in the middle of a book I will give myself a sleep question before bed in the hope that the answer will come to me in a dream. And often it does. Lately, as I work my way back to words, I am giving myself a lot of sleep intentions that have to do with writing. I work hard to remember my dreams before getting out of bed, looking for insights into how my brain works when I’m not awake to put shackles around it in an attempt to control it.
I share them not because they are earth shattering but because they are not. They are the dreams of an ordinary writer trying to make sense out of her ordinary life.
Dream from 2/16/08
I was watching a young girl at a desk. I don’t think anyone else even knew I was in the room. Some woman said something to her and she started to write. I realized she was in an editor’s office. I don’t know what kind. She handed the woman her page and the editor said it was very good. That there was lots to work with and that she was looking forward to working with her on it. I stepped back into the shadows more and listened to the conversation about what she should do next and how she should proceed. Suddenly the girl was writing like crazy and getting all this encouragement from everyone in the room. One woman told her she needed to get her picture taken because she would need it for the press. The next thing I saw was a girl rearranging because she needed a place to write.
We have been in our new home just a few weeks shy of a year now. When we moved in the only two rooms we painted were the library and my office. The library is so warm and welcoming and gives you a “hug” the minute you walk in. My office is bright and airy and, well, I never work in it. Which means I work on the couch with the laptop resting on a pillow between my legs. That’s fine for blog posts or playing Scrabulous. Not so much for writing a novel.
Since that dream I’ve taken a good look at the office and what does and doesn’t work for me. While both the library and my office have the vaulted beam ceiling, the library was left natural. But the previous owners painted my office beams white. I am going to paint them to match the wood in the library, lower the ceiling and increase the coziness factor. While I love the pale yellow I think the room is too bright for work. I am looking at sage greens now. Most importantly (and actually the most difficult) is covering the windows. I have two patio doors that leave me feeling exposed (since we removed 99% of all the plants in the backyard and neighbors can look over the fence into the house.) Drapes will warm up the room but will have to always be partway open in order to allow the dog to keep watch over her domain. So I am going to look at some wood blinds with a block-out liner. That way I can leave the one section up partway for the dog.
There are other things to be covered in the room as well, two sets of French doors and a small window at the end of the room. It is no wonder it doesn’t feel as cozy. I’d take out the small window if I could but for now, I just need to cover it up.
The most important aspect of the room (and the dream) was the desk. Currently I have two desks in my office. One is working well, the other one, not so much. The two desks are back-to-back. When you come into the room there is a big antique library table. It’s the perfect place to write notes by hand or spread out research books. On the other side is the computer desk. But it is (and has been for a while) too small. Once I have the laptop and the docking station and the big monitor on there there is no place left for a piece of paper or a cup of tea. So I am searching for a new, larger computer desk that will work in the room. (Like one of those old oak teacher desks.)
All this began from a dream.
Dream night 2/18/08
Last night I gave myself the sleep intention to dream about what is keeping me cut-off from writing, from being fully present in the moment and how I could change it. I had three short dreams.
First I dreamt I was trapped like a mummy but instead of with cloth, it was some kind of plaster. Only my eyes and mouth were visible. I couldn’t hear anything.
Then I dreamt there was this tiger laying on his back in the swimming pool – sprawled like arms to each side, just drifting along as happy as could be.
Then I dreamt I was in a pool with a whale and I had my arm around his “neck” and I was dragging him away to the ocean, to freedom.
I am feeling trapped by something, still, perhaps myself. I am not sure what it means to that I could see and talk but not hear. Perhaps I am not listening to something, to someone that I should.
A tiger is a strong hunter, a powerful animal. I do not know what it means in my life but I felt like the power was there for the taking.
I liked the idea that I was taking the whale to freedom but I wonder why I was working so hard to save someone else and why I won’t work that hard to save myself?
I had this dream while I was at a 3 day writing conference. I had spent the conference just trying to connect with people for talking about how writing and creativity fit into their lives. Just trying to learn how other people made it work from them.
In the dream one of the women from the conference came to my house (I knew it was my house but it didn’t look anything like the house I live in) I walked her all over the house and told her all about my writing and all the wonderful ideas I had for simplifying my life, getting back on track, writing the stories I meant to write. She was very encouraging, kept saying, “yes! yes! yes!” and then she started to drag me out of the house toward her car. My husband came home then and I started telling him all about this fabulous day that the two of us had had, how exciting it was, how motivated I was. He got all excited with me, FOR me.
Then the woman pulled me out of the house and opened her car door. I had a hold of my husband’s hand. She shut the door and he was left on the outside. I had to tell him that he couldn’t go with me.
I confess, at first this dream made sad and a bit afraid. I didn’t want to have to choose between my husband and my writing. But then I realized that of course the writing is the one place he can’t go with me. When I think about why the dream scared me I had to think about what my husband means to me. He is my safe zone. He is the one who has given me the comfort and security that I need in order to go deep with my writing. I remember reading this wonderful quote by Pat Schneider that said (paraphrasing) “You can write as powerfully and as deeply as you want, provided you feel safe.”
It was that quote which made me realize that my husband had helped create a safe haven for me that allowed me to write the painful story of Hugging the Rock.
Which must mean that it is time for me to go deep, once more, knowing that he is there waiting for me, making it safe enough for me to write the truth.