It was very strange but for about a year while I was writing the first draft of my new young adult novel Little Paradise, I did not remember having one dream. As soon as I sent the manuscript off to my publishers though, that very night I began to dream again, and have done so every night since. If dreams are our unconscious thoughts rising to the surface, sorting the muddle in our heads while we sleep, then I think that my unconscious and my imagination were so busy during the day while I was writing, that there was nothing left to dream about when I went to bed. It was as if I used up all my dreaming energy while awake. Because Little Paradise is inspired by my mother’s story and the people in her life, it is very close to my heart. I found writing it both emotionally and creatively draining as some episodes were harrowing indeed and I had to decide whether to include them or not. Even though it is written as a work of fiction, much of it does come from real life and I felt like a robber stealing someone else’s life and exposing it – especially as my mother is still alive and well and I love her dearly. Writing is all about choice – what to leave in, what to leave out. Usually, the more difficult the path, the better the story. I never try and take the easy path and with this one it was a struggle all the way. I did find writing Little Paradise extremely therapeutic though, as I went deep inside my unconscious asking questions all the way. I am now doing a rewrite. There is still a lot of work to be done before it is published in 2010, and one more major moral decision to make, but at least I am dreaming in sleep…
3 thoughts on “Dreaming Awake”
Apparently, we remember our dream when we wake during a REM cycle of sleep. So your probably, right. Your brain was just too mentally exhausted.
Sounds as though this has been a very important book for you to write. And in terms of making the tough decisions… My Dad told me once, “Just go with whatever that inner voice is saying. If your mother and I have raised you correctly, then that will be the correct decision to make”.
How do you think your mother will respond to the book?
It seems as if you have a very wise dad. I think I’ll have to wait until I get to that part of the rewrite which is towards the end of the novel, to see if I will include my grandmother’s story which is the one I’m deliberating about at the moment. I don’t want to hurt anyone who was involved or their descendents. If I do include it I would want to write it in a way that is non judgemental. But that’s hard when I am writing from only the protagonist’s point of view. Part of me is saying that it is too good a story to pass up as it is reminiscent of King Lear. The other part of me wonders whether my grandmother would want me to tell her tragic story. Perhaps what I will do is ask her, not directly as she passed away long ago, but through writing you can often find the truth.
I’m not sure how my mother will respond to the book once it’s published. I’d probably rather she didn’t read it at all because I’d be scared of her being too critical. She’s been very generous though, letting me use her story like this. I can’t imagine having a fictionalised version of my own life out there for any stranger to read. I think it would be really weird.