The Reality of Dreams...

    So, back to our "dream studies" as they relate to the fiction craft. The question is, "What makes a dream memorable?" Because I am chasing down a hunch, here, that the words dream and book may be interchangeable. If so, we could be onto something exciting, but it is still too soon to tell. Let's start with a closer look at realities...

    The most common phrase when one is relating a memorable dream to someone else is, "It was so real!" By this they usually mean that the physical perceptions were so vivid that they actually physically responded to them. Was it something scary? They may have woke up trembling. Was it something happy? They got up feeling good all over. Or maybe they saw someone or something so clearly that they could only exclaim, "Why, I would recognize them, again, anywhere!" And they could.

    What is it about certain dreams that fire up all our senses to such an extent that they cause our brain to register on the same level as an actual experience? Whatever it is, the discovery of such a key might be something of an "Aladin's lamp" to the gateway of great literature. But like that famous mystical lamp, it isn't so easy to get into your possession. A lot has been written about the importance of sensory detail in fiction. But how many of us readers have been so bogged down by boring descriptions that we find ourselves skipping over those parts? It can't just be in the details.

    It' must be in the choice of details.

    In order to make the right choice, though, there would have to be some sort of criteria to sort through to help us decide. For choices in the fiction profession there are certain skills involved. Same as any other profession. For instance, one would not use a putting iron for a long drive in the game of golf, no matter how comfortable they felt with it. Simply because it would be the wrong tool for the job. The wrong choice under those circumstances. And one cannot choose the most suitable tool for a given situation until they know exactly what they are aiming to do with it. Only then can they figure out what they need to do it successfully.

    Oh, but this is a can of worms we've opened up, simply because of all the variables. If our Aladin is approaching the den of thieves, do we describe the little half-moons of sweat beginning to show beneath the sleeves of his shirt after such a long trek over hot desert? Or should we say, instead, how suddenly the hair on the back of his neck prickled up to alert him that someone else was watching? Well, hmmm... is it a comedy or suspense? Who would even notice the half-moons unless he had some princess tagging along? Certainly, none of the thieves.

    Even we writers can be tripped up over such details, because a good writer can write it well either way. Take it one step further and you can flit back and forth. But (unless you are a genius) that usually only spells disaster. Not so much to publishers. They will be happy as long as you meet their deadlines and maintain your audience. But to the readers, themselves.

     Of course, the loyal ones won't notice it right away. They will simply become more distracted over a period of time, only to end up vulnerable to some other author who has been paying more attention to his skills. One who knows without taking regular surveys whether he is better at comedy, or suspense, and makes his choices accordingly.

    A writer cannot pick the best details to connect any given project with the reading world until he knows what his own particular element is. Because that is where his skill levels will be highest. That is where the endurance needed to go the distance will not abandon him halfway through. One must at least know themselves well enough to recognize whether the material has been tampered with by muses or demons overnight. A demanding skill that takes a lot of practice to become adept at.

   You have to understand the reality of your dreams.

What's happening on the farm today: Our travels are going to be hard on the Peabody family, as none of the caretakers really like them. It is because of their pea-sized brains. Little brains that are incapable of being able to distinguish a friend from a foe. So, they only run at shadows. The trouble is, everything and everybody has a shadow. Especially caretakers!

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Remembering Dreams...

    Most dreams are forgotten so soon upon waking that only a mere few seconds of emotion are left behind. In less than a minute, the routines of real life click in and they are lost entirely. But some aren't.

    Some dreams -- whether good ones or bad ones -- refuse to let go of us. When this happens, we feel pressed to find someone to tell it to, as if the telling of it is the only way to be released from its mysterious grip. Normally, that's all it takes for it to be lost forever, and we are glad of that because most often these dreams are interlaced with a patchwork of silliness and illogic made up of our most recent concerns. But some aren't.

    There are certain times in our lives -- maybe only a few -- when we dream a dream so vivid that we never forget it. Months or even years later the memory of it pops into our conscious minds, unexpected, and brings with it all the clarity and intense emotion of that first original experience. Some of them are delicious, and we cherish those. But most of them are nightmares. The unpleasantness of this kind cause us to banish them immediately from our minds at the mere flicker of an appearance, until a battle ensues. It is a long battle. If we win it, it is only through a great effort of our own conscious will. If we lose, we are plagued with something called a reoccurring nightmare. Dark repetitive dreams that spring from our deepest fears.

    Except for children (who have an amazing capacity to outgrow their fears), we tend to eventually accept this thing as part of our lives and find some way to live with it. Mostly in private. Because somehow our soul now perceives it as some kind of weakness. The kind one only reveals to their closest and most trusted friends.

    It occurs to me that books are made this way, too.

    Most of them come and go like dreams. A few catch your interest but it is only a fleeting interest, and once out of sight you never think about them, again. But some you do. If this happens, we respond the same way we do with our dreams -- we must tell someone. Whether a person likes or dislikes a book they must tell someone. Because it is the most basic part of human nature to express our emotions. So, it seems that any book which causes readers to feel something (either good or bad) is a successful book. Yet, even most of these do not last.

    Of all the books ever written -- too many to count, because even the most famous writer of several thousand years ago (whose books are still selling, by the way), observed that "of the writing of books there is no end" -- only a comparative few are good enough to outlive their creators. And only a subsequent few of these become great.

    What, then, are the ingredients of great books?

    I have a feeling the answer lies somewhere back at the beginning, where that human connection takes place. The deeper, more universal one that causes people to express (or define) themselves before they can forget it. Almost like a law of physics, it seems to me that if you achieve a connection, you will automatically illicit a response. That might be the starting place.

    Because only when there is "current" is there any capacity for power. So it is, that if writers fail to "throw the switch" for this current to flow through, their work is doomed no matter how brilliant or painstaking the design. Without this conduit there is no energy running through the thing. No connection. And therefore, no capacity for power.

    Great books have the power to define people. But in order to have power, one must first have a sustainable energy. And if (as true science teaches us) all life is made up of energy, there must be a way to infuse such a substance into books. I know this, because this kind of substance can be found in all great books. This being so, the quest then becomes how a writer goes about capturing this "power of life" for their own creations.

    A very exciting subject. And I think maybe the secret might turn out to be a blindingly simple one. Something tells me it might even be something as simple as...

    Remembering dreams.

What's happening on the farm today: The dairy is shut down for the next month, and we shall see if it is possible to revive it again in summer, or if we shall have to wait for another spring. Current general opinion tells me this year is lost. But I find little patience in anything current, so, I wonder. Then again, it is in my personality not to give up on anything. A trait that sometimes brings me grief.

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