Pet peeves. I’ve got lots of them. I guess I’m just a peevish person. But numero uno pet peeve relating to writing is this phrase, “I was having this amazing dream so I woke up and wrote it down and it turned into a novel!” I know of several people for whom a dream turned into a six-figure book deal.
Because this peeve usually comes from the mouths of urban fantasy/romance writers, I’d sort of chalked it up to genre thing, but then recently I read that Josh Berk’s The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, started as a dream. Because I know and respect Josh, I wasn’t immediately peeved; I was intrigued. His book is not urban fantasy and it’s being published by Knopf, most likely on high-quality deckle edged paper.
So I’ve been thinking: What is it about books that start as dreams? I always remember my dreams and have an incredibly rich dream life, but I never wake up and think, This would make a killer novel! Usually I think, Wow, trippy dream! Shouldn’t have has so many Thin Mints before bed.
I think the reason books from dreams become so popular is because for the most part we dream in archetypes—primal, inherited patterns of thought. Look how Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, the perfect example of dream to novel, has become a worldwide phenomenon. That’s some straight-up anima/animus + shadow archetypes mixed with some Mormon doctrine (or at least that’s how I interpret the old man/Edward & young girl/Bella relationship, as well as Edward’s parents/The Church, who gave him everlasting life by “saving him” from dying. But that’s just me!).
Tapping into the archetypes of the collective unconscious is like hooking your pipes up to city water instead of pumping from a well; you’re tapping into a steady flow of ideas that we all share. These have nothing to do with personal experience, but rather inherited thought buried deep in the primal brain. Sadly, I think I’m a writer who continues to work a deep, drying well. I need to get hooked up to the flow.
Has anyone out there had the dream-to-novel experience?