Monday, August 18, 2008

WRITING FROM DREAMS

by Gina Sestak

Last month, I wrote about attending the annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams -- see While I Lay Sleeping, July 21, for details. Today, I decided to explain a little more about how dreams may inspire a story.

At the conference, I participated in a workshop in which the instructions were simple:

1. Pick a dream
2. Pick a card
3. Write a story using the dream and the card. The story must begin with, "Once upon a time," and end, "and they lived happily ever after."

I had my dream diary with me, so the first part was simple. I chose to use a dream I'd had the night of March 15:

A man invited goddesses to his island. Most were women dressed as goddesses, but there were a few real ones, too. One of the real ones struck down her imitators.

Then I picked a card. The cards weren't regular playing cards. Each had an animal/nature symbol, which was explained on a separate page. The card I chose turned out to be an antelope. The separate page told how, when early people were cold and starving, the antelope offered them his life, so they could wear his skin and eat his flesh. [Remember, in waking reality I am a leather-shunning vegetarian!]

This is the story I wrote at the workshop:

Once upon a time, there was an antelope who traveled far across the sea until he came to an island. On the island was a man. The man had invited goddesses to come to his island. He was surprised to see the antelope.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"I've come to help," replied the antelope.
"I don't need any help," said the man, and he believed it. Why would he possibly need help? He had invited goddesses!
The goddesses arrived and filled the island -- all types of goddesses, new and old -- towering Athenas and squat little Maori goddesses. Stone age Venuses and Aphrodite. So many goddesses, and most of them were fakes, just women who were pretending because they thought real goddesses did not exist.
When one of the real goddesses saw this, she was very angry. She struck down her imitators with storms and lightning and mighty thunderclaps until the entire island shook and seemed about to break apart.
"Now I need help," the man said to the antelope, but the antelope was very wise. He looked out at the rampaging goddess and took a deep, deep breath, and when he blew it out all sense of devastation left the island. The women who had been struck down awoke. They looked around and saw the blasted landscape being replaced by fields and flowers, and the goddess who had been so angry saw them now for what they truly were, her daughters. She took them in her arms and they all lived happily ever after.

See, wasn't that easy?

5 comments:

Tory said...

I'm glad you have such great dreams, Gina! I have to say, the one time I tried to write a story from a dream it came out very melodramatic. It seemed so moving in the dream. In the light of day, not so much.

Joyce said...

You do have interesting dreams, Gina! I either don't dream (which they say is impossible) or I never remember them. I'm a very sound sleeper, so that may have something to do with it.

Gina said...

I think we all have interesting dreams, if we pay attention and write them down while they're still fresh. I've had a lot of wonderful dreams, like the one in which I carried on a conversation with a talking cat, and some that are just plain weird, like the one in which I found out I had a sister that I've never known about, except she was a slice of tomato and I was very worried that she'd end up on somebody's sandwich! As another dreamer used to say, dreams are cheaper than cable and a lot more interesting!

Annette said...

I think I'm going to take a nap now and entertain myself. Cool story, Gina!

lisa curry said...

I love your goddess-and-antelope story, Gina. It's lovely. And I'm still chuckling over your long lost tomato slice of a sister. :-)