Nicola Monaghan's news, events and general thoughts about life and writing.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Strange dreams

I've had some very unusual and vivid dreams recently.

In the first, someone bought me a bag of 'bushtucker trials' for a present. Now, I don't watch that jungle celebrity show, but I am aware of the concept, clearly. I remember Germaine Greer on some morning breakfast show and her credibility slipping out the window behind her as she complained about cruelty to insects and the crowding of the poor things in the dessert dishes they used on this show. Maybe Germain has never seen a hive of bees or nest of ants, bless her bleeding heart. She makes some good points in this article, but it wasn't how she came across on the telly. Anyway... I digress.

In the dream, my bushtucker present was wrapped in a big, brown sack, made of that fine but itchy woven material I believe is called sackcloth or hessian, though that's not important. It claimed on the label that there was some for 'now' and some for 'later'. I opened the sack to have a peep inside. Immediately insects swarmed out; electric blue flying creatures that darted as they flew, like hornets or small dragonflies. They were followed by tiny birds, also bright blue. I was with someone in my dream, one of those undisclosed people you get in dreams who have no face and body, or even an identity, but are a presence, watching or doing something with you. We both balked at the idea that anyone might try to eat these creatures and laughed at the idea that whoever had bought me this present thought that I might. In the centre of the sack there were a load of maggots and caterpillars, wriggling against each other and looking full of life. I'm not at all surprised that I dreamed about insects and larvae. My fiction is full of them, and I have a complete fascination with their lifecycle that I wasn't fully aware of until I started writing and it all came out.

My second dream was about a friend. A real friend, not a faceless presence, but one I won't name here for reasons that will become obvious. In this dream, the friend was having an affair and me and a bunch of mutual acquaintances were standing outside his flat talking loudly about it. We hadn't even considered the consequences of this until a friend of his partner popped her head out of the window and asked us to explain. I was straight in there, covering for him. 'Oh it's all past tense. It's the affairs she already knows about.'

The bloke concerned isn't, as far as I am aware, having an affair. In fact, there were some in his past but he did fess up and he and partner patched their life back together. I'm fairly sure he's been good since. I have no idea why any of this came into my dreams.

I like dreams. I have vivid ones, and lucid dreams too sometimes. I can often control what happens next and often replay a dream I didn't like and change the ending. I used to do this with fiction, when I was younger. If I didn't like the way a story finished, I would sit back and close my eyes and imagine something else, rewrite it for myself to something more satisfactory. I guess this was an early sign of the path my life would take.

I am dreaming loads at the moment, and also getting down the words. I'm working on a rewrite, so it's not all new material, but on good days I'm managing to get through ten thousand words or more. I think the two things are connected but I have no idea which drives the process.

It reminds me of a question I'm asked a lot at author events, a famous one that all writers hate only because it's so hard to answer. 'Where do you get your ideas from?' For me, they come from the writing. That probably sounds strange as, if the ideas come from the writing, how do you do any writing to begin with? I don't have an answer to this question. It's all a bit chicken versus egg.

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