Last night I dreamed I’d written the perfect story. I came half-awake, filled with a sense of contentment. I even knew what the story was about. It was about a man who was mediating between two warring tribes when it came to him he had the answer to their conflict, which involved both sides saying exactly the same thing, but using symbols so wildly different one side couldn’t understand the other. My protagonist stood on a great wall and tossed a bowl to the people on one side. He then tossed something to the people on the other. I wish I could remember what it was, and I want to say a wand, crozier or scepter, but that seems so full of blatant Freudian symbolism I’d rather not. Whatever it was, each side thought the item had come from their enemy, and yet when they saw it, they were stunned — contrary to what they’d believed, their enemy had given them exactly what they needed, and apparently understood them perfectly. Peace is restored.
Well, clearly, this isn’t the perfect story. It isn’t even a very good story, but it is a highly useful one, at least for me, because it points to a kind of detente between two antagonistic parts of my self. And yes, possibly the female and male sides, given the whole (embarrassingly obvious) bowl and scepter thing. But also it might be other forms of chiaroscuro — active vs passive, introvert vs extravert, innocence vs experience, etc.
I’ll live with the images for a while. I won’t try and analysis them, but rather let them do whatever work, effect whatever change they were created for.
As a writer, I pay attention to my dreams since writing, like dreaming, is largely the work of the subconscious. I also find it interesting that I am embarking on a new book these days, one in which a woman whose brother has died undertakes a journey into the land of the dead to try and rescue him. This, of course, might also be seen as a quest to symbolically rescue the shadow side of the self, as wonderful old Jung might say.
Over the past weeks, I’ve grappled with the theme of this new book, with what symbols might work, and to try and define why I’m writing it. I doubt I’ll get a clear answer, at least not until the first draft is finished, which may take a couple of years, but after this dream, I do feel I’m on the right path, since the questions seem to be stirring up the subconscious waters.
I advise all writers (and everyone else, too, for that matter) to keep a dream journal. You just never know when something interesting will pop up.