Monday, January 28, 2008

Dreams, Writers, & The Subconscious

Alexandra Sokoloff, yesterday, talked about writers and using their dreams to help them write. I think that’s the coolest, but I rarely have interesting dreams, and if I do, they’re of the website-in-the-refrigerator variety.

Instead, I tend to daydream, aLOT. Like, all day long. In the shower, in the bathtub, in the car, while cooking, while listening, while staring out the window ... whatever. By the time I actually sit down to write, I have TONS of scenes to transcribe.

Which made a little bell go off when Laurell K. Hamilton talked about her phobia of flying. This weekend she talked about a method to "cure" that phobia, that allows your subconscious to work through your fears, generally while you’re sleeping, because that’s when most people use their subconscious.

However, Laurell K. Hamilton was gripped by paralyzing fear during the day. The technique had worked wonders on her friends, but not on LKH. Why? She called up her therapist, to discover:

"She’d had this problem once or twice
before with artists and writers. Apparently,
some of us use our subconscious during the
day. We’re like very in touch with parts of
our psyche that most human beings only
access at night in dream state. I’d always
thought that I was more in tune with the
hidden parts of me, interesting to have it

"My subconscious and I are apparently too
tight to separate. That means that the veil
that most people have between their waking
mind and their subconscious isn’t really
there for me. I didn’t realize that other
people did it differently."

I’m constantly digging into my subconscious trying to find patterns and such, trying to understand how I really feel, trying to process what thoughts come from where. It’s a self-centered endeavor, but I also think it’s necessary in understanding humanity. I mean, our own minds are probably the deepest we’ll ever be able to explore, you know?

Although, our own minds are probably the most difficult to know.

And yet, the coolest stuff comes from the subconscious.

Also, at Murderati, there’s a fabulous, fantastic, thought-provoking post on how our minds work perceive imagery--persistence of vision, and how it relates to creating a story for the reader, by Toni McGee Causey. Fascinating stuff.

Sometimes I think we need a psychology degree to write, you know?

Since this is turning out to be a link post, I would be remiss in not linking to Meg Gardiner. She finds the most curious news items to share. The two latest and greatest are:

  1. A Whitbread Prize winning author claimed, in a lawsuit, that fumes from a shoe factory left her "unable to concentrate on writing her highbrow novel, Cool Wind from the Future, and instead wrote a brutal crime story, Bleedout, which she found easier." (How could they lower her to such depths of sell-out???)
  2. My favorite: Dan Brown’s UK publisher issued a statement saying that "There is never any clause from [a] publisher to a novelist that they have to deliver at a certain time. We would not impose such a thing on a contract." (We’ve all spurted up coffee on that one, right?)

7 bonus scribbles:

The Literary Prostitute 1/28/2008 12:41:00 PM  

Thanks for this post. I'm with LKH, in that my subconscious is very much at the surface. I'm definitely not much of an enigma, considering that my feelings are generally written all across my face, but it's nice to know that others are like that. I think that writers have to be able to objectively and fully psychoanalyze themselves because, as you said, psychology is a major driving force behind the complexities of a novel.

And if we don't know what makes us "tick", so to speak, how can we create realistic characters? Again, great post.

StarvingWriteNow 1/28/2008 03:52:00 PM  

Huh. Very interesting! I never really thought about it before; and never really considered that most people don't think deeply on a daily basis. I"m always digging around in my subconscious garden and daydreaming like crazy.

spyscribbler 1/28/2008 04:07:00 PM  

Hi Literary! Me, too. Mine are written across my face, too. Sometimes I wish they weren't, LOL. Can't take much credit for the post, though, as it was mostly the thoughts inspired from others much smarter than me. :-)

Writenow, isn't it? You know, I'm constantly boggled by the fact that DH is not thinking of anything, oftentimes. It blows my mind. I mean ... all potential jokes aside, how do you even shut that off?

Edie 1/28/2008 04:32:00 PM  

This post reminds me of the cartoon diagram of a man's head, showing his thoughts: Beer, sports and sex.

There must be a veil between me and my subconscious. I'll be on page 340 and think of a great plot point -- then I realize I set it up in chapter three. My subconscious knew it was coming, but my conscious mind didn't.

I daydream a lot too. Some of them are about my books. :)

spyscribbler 1/28/2008 05:09:00 PM  

Edie, I get that, too! Isn't that the coolest when that happens?

Daydreams are more fun than night dreams, I think. :-)

Stewart Sternberg 1/29/2008 08:31:00 PM  

That was a good post. I love when something sparks me into contemplation. Dreams have always been something that have fascinated me as a writer. Maybe it has to do with my own struggles with Night Terrors. Don't Ask.

Bernita 1/30/2008 07:30:00 AM  

"I’m constantly digging into my subconscious trying to find patterns and such, trying to understand how I really feel, trying to process what thoughts come from where."


And that word choice fits w/ what Edie said -"My subconscious knew it was coming, but my conscious mind didn't."