Some words on Dreams and Storytelling
How did High Season: The Learnings of Mohammad Wang come to be?
It sort of began with a short, simple dream last year on an island in Mexico that confusingly lingered, an annoying medical professional, two manuscripts I had forgotten I had penned and Victoria's Little Romantics (characters in Book one High Season).
I am learning its been the same for many in my writing workshops and Nano Writing Month when communicating about inspirations in between breaks. Not the parts about Mexico, two mystery novels, a shrink and friend's school-kids... but dreams and telling a story.
Imagine it’s been a sensational night inside your skull.
You were in a hotel room at a crossroad in life looking at a picture of a big hat; the tide was coming in with furious winds. Someone threw a gigantic pencil at your head; you were now in the back of a large car with an attractive lady repeating 'Do you have the Disney soundtrack?!?The Colonel wants Lion King for the battle!' on the way to see the base commander in your Dress-blue uniform and a Teddy Ruxpin holding a massive blunt. Then you had to climb past a big wall but kept being annoyingly tickled by a giant orange squirrel with tiny hands. You kick at him as you climb to the top and then you wake up! It felt hugely significant, but if you go downstairs and make an effort to inform your breakfast mates about the amazing things that went throughout your sleeping brain, the outcomes are a little sobering. You keep saying that it felt ‘exciting,' that 'it felt so strange but real' and that it's 'indeed amazing and brilliant what goes on up there,' but some dispiritingly blank stares meet your attempts to get others to consider the particularities of your rollercoaster night. Half way through the narration, someone pipes up to say 'the cereal is running low. Pop to store later, will you mate?' Another individual mentions 'it might rain later. Take an umbrella, and the weed jar is running low'. Then the doorbell rings. It’s a poignant impasse, but not an uncommon one. It’s tempting to ponder the problem has to do with dreams themselves because they are so strange, exclusive and particular to us. However, the issue isn’t restricted to dreams: it’s a general dilemma when we attempt to explain how our holiday had gone down for example. Which can equally hit us well on what we feel about our ideas or our youthful struggles about how society ought to run in our day to day. Assessing our lives is similar to a very intensely-felt dream we can’t quite get others to listen to correctly. A small reason is dramatically down to a collective lack of preparation, an insufficient awareness that what we’re trying spit out will require a high degree of practice and trying to do this is really quite hard for many including me at time. We naively suppose that if we feel something to be brilliant or important, it'll necessarily and immediately hit others as being so as well and return the same. And that eagerness and authenticity could be enough. This very charming, though ultimately lonely, egocentricity can be best found in ninos, or as I've poetically dubbed them Victoria's Little Romantics in High Season. They are on the list of worst storytellers I have encountered from my new experiences, and partially because they have a touchingly weak hold on very distressing new thoughts exploding in their minds. Thoughts that other individuals are apt to be in different areas from us internally and are highly unlikely to comprehend, feel and see as we do unless we go to considerable lengths to express, arrange and methodically package up the contents of our heads for them. Writing helps a great deal in this new department. These are a few of the rules for storytelling I have recently adopted:
First, we all should know when it's to be shared in the company of humans as to when thoughts merely need to be left to marinade in our own brains. Hear the story as your listener, and comprehend a narrative five times before taking it to the breakfast table.
Second, keeping a narrative summary requires far more effort than letting it enlarge. The philosopher in tights and a wig named Pascal once touchingly apologized for the length of a letter to a mate he'd written immediately in a rapid emotional response. As he admitted: ‘I’m sorry I didn’t have time to allow it to be briefer.’ Size doesn't matter with words. It can be tough, but clarity will achieve more.
Third, we need to simplify. The downfall of virtually all anecdotes is a collection of incidental detail untethered to the underlying logic of the story. If one is describing how it felt to see one’s lost love in a dream, it's inconsequential (and a waste of somebody else’s somewhat short and valuable life) to say what time one left the house to 'play pool with the lads' twisted into the story. Or what the weather happened to be like that day if it has nothing to do with the dream and story's logic.
If we feel about what occurred and not merely what happened, that immensely counts towards a valuable storytelling experience and avoid requests to fetch cereal, milk, and ganja.
Most of what comes out of our mouths, is more or less, socialized in a sense it's not quite fit for the consumption of the planet just yet outside our heads. Plus a legacy of our surroundings sentimentally places the bar of successful communicating way too low. People who grow up not able to discuss dreams are particularly alive to the catastrophe of being misunderstood as well as the threat to their personal achievements in storytelling.
The contents of our minds, and our dreams, are never actually too strange or tedious for other people to understand: it’s simply that our culture hasn’t yet taken seriously enough in the bracing challenges of narrating the actual substance of our complex individual day and nighttime madness.
Keep dreaming and I am looking forward to the NANO Writing Month this November! If you would like to get those dreams out of your skull, please check it out at http://nanowrimo.org/