A few nights ago I had a dream about a staff, a stile and a horrid dark dank dungeon. There was a woman in the dungeon and I knew she was going to torture me. When she poured liquid on my face, I accepted my fate: that I was doomed. The only way out of inevitable death was for me to prise open my eyes. I stared at the ceiling and breathed: Thank my stars I’m alive. I had to get up and sit with my children, hear them breathe as they slept, before I could shake the dream away.
I’ve been dreaming vividly recently and remembering my dreams, which are detailed and full of symbolism. Perhaps it’s because I’m at the point in the process of writing my current novel when I feel flushed with creativity. After years of stopping and starting, struggling with indecision and self-doubt, I am sailing and I don’t want to be anywhere else. My tapping fingers have a hard time keeping up with the words racing through my mind. The more I love the process, the more the story writes itself, and my dreams are fuelling my ideas. The very process of interpreting my dreams, using that part of my imaginary self, that puts two often bizarre and otherwise unlinked images together to create something bigger and more interesting, is in itself a creative act. It’s the very thing that I love about writing: those enlightening moments when you fill the black hole; complete the puzzle that’s been bothering you for months. I dreamt the other night about eggs in my hair, and realised it symbolised pregnancy and the intimacy you feel with the father of your child when you are carrying his baby. It then fed into an unresolved theme in my novel, which involved my protagonist, her lover and a fantasy love child. I sat at my computer and threaded this new theme through my novel, making it even more a product of myself, my subconscious, my inner world.
I wonder about alcohol and its dampening affect on creativity. When you drink, you don’t dream, or at least you don’t remember your dreams. When you drink you drift off to sleep with your favourite book open in your hands. The next day, your head can feel heavy, your mind woolly. Drinking drains energy, and therefore it also drains creativity. All writers know that writing a novel involves sacrifice. When you’re at the stage I’m at now, and the novel has a life, it needs to be cared for, cherished even, all distractions shelved. Until this book is written, my tipple will be a cup of warming tea.
PS. Some months ago I volunteered to offer my time to Kerry Hudson’s ingenious enterprise, the Womentoring Project http://womentoringproject.co.uk/, which gives free mentoring to women who can’t afford to pay for it. I am about to knuckle down to read the work of my first mentee, Kyra Hall-Gelly, and I’ve recently been invited to be on the Womentoring board with a bunch of fantastic female writers, editors and agents.
PPS. I’m doing an event on the 15th of November at the Taunton Literary Festival http://www.tauntonliteraryfestival.net with author and poet Carolyn Jess-Cooke, on Motherhood and Creativity. If you’re in the area, come along and say hello.
PPPS. I’m on the cusp of something big. I can feel it in my bones. Watch this space.