"My whole life has been dreams. Some times day visions. They would take advantage of me. No one taught me to paint. It came to me."--Minnie Evans folk artist
|Folk Art by Minnie Evans|
When I was pregnant and found out I was having twins, I dreamed of myself in a large waterbed and two crying babies in a crib. As hard as I tried, I couldn't get to those babies. Every time I tried to reach them a whoosh of current pushed me farther and farther away.
These days not only do dreams help me psychoanalyze myself in relation to what is going on in my life, they serve as fodder for my fiction. I use a common exercise to help me engage with my character's subconscious thoughts. Last night she dreamt about __________________. That's all the prompt I need to delve underneath my character and find things I may have missed while writing only their waking life.
At other times, I find getting into a deep state of writing where everything else fades away, is a sort of dreamstate which Robert Olen Butler so eloquently talks about in From Where We Dream.
Plots, subplots, characters also come to be sometimes as a waking dream. I get an image and suddenly a door opens in my novel that I didn't know previously existed. One such discovery is one I speak of often regarding my completed but unpublished manuscript The Birds of Opulence. I was having difficulty with the point of view and then suddenly it came to me that I could control the point of view if I thought of it as a bird. There are other birds throughout the book (the tangible variety) but this invisible bird gave my novel a clear concrete shape.
I'm sure there are many guides online to writing your dreams online Writing Effective Dreams is one I found.
Of course on the other hand tricking a reader by writing an entire scene then simply writing Then she woke up is a cop out and your reader never enjoys being manipulated.
Minnie Evans based her life's body of work on strange dreams that had haunted her all her life: giant birds, biblical figures, flowers, faces, etc. Ms. Evans, a native of Long Creek, North Carolina continued to channel her dreams even when she was steeped in poverty, was shunned by the art world because of her lack of training and her family called her crazy.
According to Painting Dreams, a book about Ms. Minnie's life as a visionary artist she painted on brown bags, old stationery, poster board or canvas--anything that was available to her. She sketched her dream in pencil and then would go over it with oil paint, watercolor or even crayons. Sometimes she would draw an entire dream and then erase it and spend days drawing the same dream again. "I keep putting down something till after a while something says, 'That's right, Minnie, that's right. All right.'" (Painting Dreams, p. 25)
Isn't that what we all want our art to say when we get as close to the dream as our talent allows? "That's right. All right."