Finding Inspiration: Listen to Your Dreams

Finding Inspiration: Listen to your Dreams

I always keep a pen and notebook by my bed so when I wake up in the morning I can capture ideas from my dreams. Here’s a perfect example.

I am on stage with Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox. We are rehearsing for a show and Brad Pitt runs into the theater, up the aisle and jumps on stage. “Do you need anything from the store?” He picks me up like I’m a rag doll and swings me around planting a big kiss on my lips. My face must be burning red because I can hardly breath! I look into his baby blues and melt when Tina brings me back to reality, “Alright, that's enough, you, two! I have to wait till I get home to get any.” Brad grins and my knees go weak. Whose wouldn't?

In this dream there is enough for the start of a story. It is being told in first person with a specific setting, the public figures (whose names would be changed) and a love interest. Let’s continue…

Reba pokes her head in from upstage. Her hair has grown out and she's wearing a top from her new line. "What's shaking, ladies? We gonna have some fun tonight?" Aretha leans back relaxing in her favorite red leather chair. "We've got all the basics covered. All we need to know is when you and Dolly are going to bring out the big guns.” In walks Dolly from stage right, her arms full of freshly baked goodies as we rush to help her. Once we settle in the green room, she looks around for her chair. "Well, how y'all doin'? I made my favorite recipe for double chocolate chip cookies. I sure hope you love eatin’ 'em as much as I love makin' 'em." The table is dwarfed now by the platters piled high with chocolate chip cookies, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. “This is my momma’s recipe for fried chicken. And honest to goodness, it’s the best fried chicken North of the Mason Dixon Line”. As everyone gathers around the table she throws her hands up in the air. “I may have overdone it a little, but I wanted to make sure you girls had a good home-cooked meal tonight. Now, who wants to say grace.”

The characters begin to develop as the roles they play in the story. Dreams are a hotbed of ideas when you pay attention. Even if you are not planning to write a story about the characters in your dreams, there may be elements that might be mined from the texture woven into your subconscious mind while you are sleeping. What is it they say? If you drill a ton of ore, you might find an ounce of gold? If you can find one nugget like that you can build upon it and soon you will have a gold mine! The important thing is to use the tool. It’s a gift so accept it and honor it. Over time you might find a whole new resource for your novels.

If you are diligent and patient you can watch it grow.
Now let’s get back to the dream…

Annie Lennox leans over and gives Dolly a big hug then Reba chirps in, “Come on you, two. We better hurry up before the fellas get here or there won’t be a leg to lick on.” They all laugh while dishing up their plates. As the other women are eating and talking, Dolly brings her plate over and sits next to me on the couch. “Hey, darlin', how you holdin' up?" she leans in close. "You're gonna do just fine, little lady. Don't you worry about a thing. You got your sisters here and we aren't gonna let you get in any trouble. Besides, we're just here to have fun!"

I’m getting reassurance from a woman who created an image for the world to see that has made her a fortune and she is one of the smartest business woman who used her image wisely to get what she wanted so that she was the one running her own career.

"20 minutes to show time, Ladies.” “Thats our cue,” Annie says as she jumps to her feet, sleek and slim in her jumpsuit. We take a few minutes to finish up and form a circle. As we join hands Aretha turns her head skyward. "God, thank you for bringing us all together for this special event and welcome our sister into our circle of love. Give her strength to trust in you, again. Shine your light on her as she makes her debut. Praise the Lord. Amen!” We all chime in. "Let’ go have fun!

"...and now, Ladies and Gentlemen, let's give a warm welcome to our next performer direct from broadway…” I don’t hear the rest of it. My stomach is turning summersaults. I shake it off, listen to the rhythm of the music. The curtain goes up and I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to do what I love!

That's what every day is like when I am writing and performing. When the ideas come and I can let them come out and capture the essence of it, watching the idea grow from an idea and take shoe over time till it finally is ready to be heard. Then it has a life of its own. I've done my part. Then I have to just let go and see what happens with it. You give it room to grow. You nurture it. Just like a child, an idea is a mysterious creature, full of life, but you don't know how it will develop. I do my best to stay out of my way and be open to the process instead trying to make anything happen or conform to my rules. Then it can really blossom. That's how I write.

Sometimes I just get a couple of words or a picture. For me these images mean something special. To you they might represent a totally different sceneraio.

Here we have a story in a setting with two of my idols, plus a love interest.

Reba pokes her head in from upstage. Her hair has grown out and she's wearing one of the tops from her new line. "What's shaking, ladies? We gonna have some fun tonight?" Aretha leans back relaxing in her favorite red leather chair. "We've got all the basics covered. All we need to know is when you and Dolly are going to bring out the big guns.” In walks Dolly from stage right, her arms full of freshly baked goodies as we rush to help her. Once we settle in the green room, she looks around for her chair. "Well, how y'all doin'? I made my favorite recipe for double chocolate chip cookies. I sure hope you love eatin’ 'em as much as I love makin' 'em." The table is dwarfed now by the platters piled high with chocolate chip cookies, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. “This is my momma’s recipe for fried chicken. And honest to goodness, it’s the best fried chicken North of the Mason Dixon Line”. As everyone gathers around table she says, “I may have overdone it a little, but I wanted to make sure you gals had a good home-cooked meal tonight. Now, let’s say grace.”

We have additional characters and from each there is a picture of their personality. As you can see these are pretty straight forward images. But that’s not the point. The point is that someone is sending you messages. You can study them, you can learn from them and you can use them as a writing tool. What is it they say? If you drill a ton of ore, you might find an ounce of gold? If you can find one nugget like that you can build upon it and soon you will have a gold mine! The important thing is to use the tool. It’s a gift so accept it and honor it. If you are diligent and patient you can watch it grow.

Sandy Kastel, Author
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