Last night I dreamt I was carrying around a “baby”. It looked a little like a jellyfish and I desperately needed to get it to water. After missing a bus, getting lost, etc, I finally found a plastic bag filled with water and slipped the baby inside. Immediately it pinked up and looked like a healthy little guy. It actually smiled at me.
It often feels as though I dream all night long, and variations on the baby dream are frequent, always with the same theme: I need to take care of something (this has varied from a real baby to a frog to an earth shoe (remember earth shoes??) among other things). And I know what these dreams mean.
When I first started writing fiction, I was working as a hospital social worker. My writing was limited to notes on patient charts–just the facts, ma’am. I knew I’d started out as a creative person, but my creativity had been stifled by too many years of studenthood and reading books related to my profession. So I went to a Jungian Analyst with the hope of getting my creative groove back. The analyst suggested I keep a dream journal. I did so and began to see the baby theme running through my dreams. At first, the dreams were terrible! I’d be caring for a baby and drop it. I’d need to save a frog from a predator but be too late. I’d carry the earth shoe around, trying to find help for it (???) only to fail. (yes, the earth shoe died 🙁 ) The analyst suggested the baby/frog/shoe and other similar beings I was trying to care for represented my writing. It made sense. I was struggling to once again be creative, to find my voice for fiction, and I wasn’t doing well at the task.
The analyst and I worked together for about six months. By that time, the babies/shoes/sandals/hats etc in my dreams were fat and happy. Now, all these years later, I know that my baby dreams are clear indicators of how I really feel about my current WIP. Not how I say I feel, not how I think I feel, but how, at the unconscious level, I’m handling the stress and challenge of the work. Like my dream last night indicates, I’ve taken a few wrong buses on this journey (the setting, some character names, present tense) but the baby is going to be just fine.

12 Comments

  1. Margo on October 12, 2006 at 9:47 am

    Dreams are fascinating and your comment about the dream journal makes me think about starting 1…I’m curious if your dreams are in color?…I have a dream that has reappeared thru-out my life with the most glorious blues, oranges, reds and yellows………..

  2. Diane Chamberlain on October 12, 2006 at 11:00 am

    sounds like a great dream, margo. if you have the time, i’d definitely recommend keeping a dream journal. keep it right next to your bed and write everything you can remember down before you get up. it’ll be interesting to see what themes emerge.
    leave it to an artist to have such colorful dreams!

  3. Margo on October 12, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    I will do it! The dream first came to me when I was very young (maybe 8 or 10) and when I woke up, I drew and colored it on paper…I don’t know whatever happened to the drawing but I never forgot the dream and it has appeared over and over in my life…hummmmmmmmm, I wonder what it means…

  4. Brenda on October 15, 2006 at 9:38 am

    The DREAM’S THE THING (I like to interpret dreams and there are many books out there that do that…some of mine are really weird…)
    Just wanted to suggest a few authors to you girls while I am trying to do grad work. After a lovely autumn day in the mountains yesterday (WVU football-three hours each way) with my husband, I had to let him go to church alone this A.M. while I do grad work–girls-I must tell you that I am way past the point of “BEING SAD IF I GET MY FIRST ‘A'” and to the point-let’s finish these two hard classes (ETHNOGRAPHY and HISTORICAL RESEARCH) and on to COMPS, last two classes, and project…) WHEW>>>> Anyway…think of me-I am ready to almost quit and it is too late for that.
    To the authors–if you are interested in Irish fiction (not only James Joyce) there are some authors you might enjoy this winter…on the somewhat darker side—John McGahern and WIlliam Trevor-but still interesting…(I love Irish Fiction) ON the medium/lighter side-Edna O’Brien-esp. her Country Girls Trilogy…and then very light–Cathy Kelly esp. Best of Friends and WHAT SHE LIKES…those are authors you might want to look up–I own the books and reread some of them…
    As to our popular authors…I am going to try one last time and order D. Steel’s latest-I have every book she has written-but this is the last one I will buy if it is like her latest…also I always buy Thomas Kinkade-my son buys his prints for me…and I get the books (book club)…there are just a few authors I have to have the books D.C., M. Monroe, B. Delinsky are the three that I adore…
    There are my suggestions…think of me…I still have three more ballgames to go to with my husband…a trip next weekend to Ohio to meet with my children and grandchildren for a mini-reunion where they grew up…and the NYC Marathon–my son says it is his last in NYC because he is now enjoying the Triathalons, and IRON MEN competition more. This year his sister is probably getting to join us from Indy (My son treats us-he is great…)
    Take care…Brenda

  5. Diane Chamberlain on October 15, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    Brenda,
    Girlfriend, you are worrying me with your schedule! I know what it’s like to have a pile of work to get done on the weekend but also want to please family and friends by doing stuff with them. Put yourself first for a while, okay? That mini-reunion does sound important. Can you get reading/work done in the car while your husband drives to the ball games?
    Thanks for the book suggestions–you are quite the reader!
    Margo, did you start your dream journal yet?

  6. Margo on October 16, 2006 at 9:41 am

    Diane, I started my dream journal this weekend!…I don’t know if it’s the fact we’ve been talking about them lately, but my dreams were very vivid this past weekend and I wrote them down…it will be interesting to see the pattern and I’m excited about it!…Brenda, ‘ditto’ with Diane’s comment…I also find myself trying to do too much and still make family happy by doing things with them…it can really wear you down so take extra care with yourself…like you, I always buy Diane’s book, have recently started buying Mary Alice Monroe, Barbara Delinsky and I always buy Luanne Rice and Danielle Steel…also love to read Dan Brown and Dean Koontz…

  7. Diane Chamberlain on October 16, 2006 at 9:57 am

    ah, dean koontz. my favorite is still WATCHERS. that wonderful dog just about broke my heart.

  8. Margo on October 16, 2006 at 10:22 am

    I have ‘Watchers’ but have never read it…maybe that will be my book to read over Halloween!…my fav Koontz book was ‘THE FACE’…really, really excellent and I can still remember almost everything about the last chapter, even tho I read it several years ago…it left a real impact on me……..

  9. Diane Chamberlain on October 16, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    oh margo, you will LOVE WATCHERS! after you’ve read it, we’ll have to discuss one particular scene to see if it affected you the way it did me.
    i am reading elizabeth berg’s WE ARE ALL WELCOME HERE. not too far into it, but so far excellent. thanks for the recommendation, brenda.

  10. Margo on October 16, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    When I get home tonite, I’ll pull WATCHERS from the shelf and it will definitely be my next read!…I still have 150 pgs left on SWEETGRASS (my commission works are slowing me down on book reading) but I should have it finished within the next 2 wks…I make it a rule to read a Dean Koontz every Halloween so WATCHERS it will be!…thx for recommending, Diane…we seem to have the same taste so I imagine it’s going to effect me the same as you…I’ll let you know when I’ve started it!…never read E. Berg before. Sounds like I might have to take a look at her books in the near future…

  11. Brenda on October 29, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    I do work in the car when my husband drives…
    This will end in May…the degree (a slight raise which I need)…a summer of doing what I have put off.
    The mini-reunion, my children, grandchildren and I in OHIO-was delightful…
    This coming weekend (first of Nov…) I drive to Cleveland-we fly to NYC for the Marathon…then one month until this semester from )))) ends…whew…
    I have never had so much work in a college semester before…plus teaching of course.
    Thanks for the concern…

  12. Brenda on October 29, 2006 at 5:29 pm

    Have to admit I like scary James Patterson and Tami Hoag…

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