Monday, September 28, 2009


by Gina Sestak

Where do your stories come from?  Do they spring fully formed into you mind, or do you have to spend days, weeks, or years weaving the plot by hand?  If you're anything like me, you've answered, "Both."  The idea may come by magic, but the fun part of translating that idea into words can take awhile.

J.K. Rowling claims she got the idea for her Harry Potter series while riding on a train.  Misery came to Stephen King on an airplane.  You don't have to travel to come up with ideas, though.  Every night, every one of us creates fiction in our sleep.  We dream.

According to the first on-line dictionary Google found under the term Dictionary, "dream" can mean a succession of images, thoughts or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.  "Dream" may also mean an aspiration or goal.   For example, this video illustrates the first meaning:  These Dreams.  This video illustrates the second:  Dream On.

[Aside: Has anybody else noticed that the button for embedding videos has disappeared?]

Regular readers know that I post every summer about attending a dream conference, the annual meeting of the  International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD).    Over the past few years, IASD conferences have been held in Washington, Berkeley, Bridgewater, Copenhagen, Sonoma, Montreal, and Chicago, all great places to visit.

It may surprise you to know that I'm attending another IASD conference right now, from the comfort of my computer room.  No airlines to fool with, no hotel rooms to reserve, no passports to renew -- this conference is taking place solely in cyberspace.

The PsiberDream Conference is a yearly on-line event that mirrors the annual conference in all ways but one -- nobody goes anywhere to attend it.  Dreamers from around the world meet on the internet and that, I think, is the fulfillment of the second kind of dream.  Next to PsiberDreaming, the slow exchange of hand-written letters seems as antiquated as Hogwarts mail which, as many of you know, requires the use of owls.   To our ancestors who relied on ships to carry messages, the kind of instant communication we enjoy must have seemed like an unattainable dream.  And so, I'm communicating with the world about dreams from within a dream.  Who knew?


Annette said...

I've written a couple of stories that were formed in my dreams. One short story was published. One novel is in a drawer somewhere never to see the light of day. Maybe it should have been a short story, too.

More often than not, my dreams are too bizarre to make good fiction.

Enjoy your onine conference, Gina.

Joyce said...

I'd say I never dream, but supposedly that's impossible, so I'll say I never remember my dreams. I have to find my inspiration elsewhere!

I'll check on that embedding videos thing.

Joyce said...

I checked on embedding a video. With the new post editor, you have to copy the embed code from You Tube and paste it in your post. I don't know why they're doing it that way, though. One good thing about the new post editor is that photos will now upload exactly where you want them instead of at the beginning of the post.

Gina said...

Thanks, Joyce. Uh, what's an "embed code"?

Joyce said...

Gina, when you're on You Tube watching a video, there's a box, usually on the right, that will have the HTML embed code. You just copy it from there.

Jennie Bentley said...

I know all about the second kind of dreams. I have the first, but I rarely remember them when I wake up. They've never turned into books or stories. When I was a kid, though, I used to have the same dream over and over, always in the same way, about a little boy (about my age, 5 or 6 or 7) lying on top of a freshly filled grave in some war-torn country in Eastern Europe or the Middle East. His mother had died and he was all alone. I haven't had the dream for 20 or even 30 years, but it was vivid enough that I can still see his face and feel that same feeling of horror. I'm sure it means something, although I'm not sure what.

Sorry. Slight detour there. Glad you're enjoying your cyber conference, Gina. Modern technology is amazing, isn't it?

Gina said...

Interesting dream, Jennie. When they recur, it usually indicates that the dream is significant. There are so many levels dreams work on. Your dream of the little boy could symbolize your own fears or feeling of being alone or abandoned, or it could be something you saw in a movie once that struck a deep emotional chord, or it could be a past life memory, or it could be a psychic connection with that child of another time, or . . . You get the idea.

By the way, I should have mentioned that the local Pittsburgh dream workshop will be meeting tonight (Monday, September 28) at 7:00 p.m. All are welcome. For further information, go to:

Karen in Ohio said...

Wow, from this morning when I first read Gina's post to now the site has gone through a transformation, right?

Or am I dreaming?

Annette said...

Ah. It looks like Joyce has been tinkering again.

Gina said...

The transformation caught me by surprise, too. Nice view of Pittsburgh, but photos taken last week might have looked more crime-like.

[For those of you who don't know, we hosted the G20 conference on September 24 and 25, which meant that parts of the city were surrounded by a giant fence, Jersey barriers appeared along curbs, military helicopters circled over head, businesses were boarded up, people stayed home from work, traffic stopped, and Downtown was completely deserted except for riot-geared law enforcement personnel. As one local columnist described the scene, it looked like a capitalist vision of the Rapture.]

Joyce said...

Yes, I was tired of the old look.

Believe it or not, the header is an anonymous city--as far as I know it's not Pittsburgh, although it looks pretty darn close. It came from this site that has free blog headers.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I wrote two paragraghs of a "Unique" short story in my sleep. I didn't dream any visuals, just words.

Normally I don't remember my dreams at all, but this one stuck.

Opening line:

"I was having a pretty good day until Nevil killed me."

We have a new look. Good stuff, Joyce.

Gina said...

I've woken up with entire poems in my head -- complete with rhymes and everything.