Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Unconscious Speaks

I had a dream several nights ago. The dream's meaning was very clear to me. It concerns the direction of my book.

As I write the book it has occurred to me to go into the heads of several of the characters. I like to know what they are thinking. However I have been limited because the story is being told through the eyes of my main character, Rachael. Whatever Rachael sees, and interprets, about other people I can detail. She can see sadness, she can see craziness, she can see greatness, and of course, because the story is being told through her eyes, the reader can see all of her insides,- her memories, her fantasies, and her opinions are always very important. But to return to the exterior world, what is known about another character is always known through the lens of Rachael's eyes. The tendency was to make Rachael practically supernaturally intuitive. She just "knows" things about other people. I have thought, "my goodness, is Rachael a genius?"

My blog is being written through my eyes, the first person. I tell you, the reader, what is happening to me, all my thoughts, as thought happens. This is the way that Rachael narrates the book. The book begins with Rachael explaining to the reader the strangeness of her name (I haven't told you yet Rachael's last name) and then continues as she makes a drawing. Yes, Rachael is an artist. Being an artist myself it was very easy to write about the experience of making a drawing through the first person.

When I started this book, a decade ago, (my, my, that dating sounds horrible) my purpose was to write everything that was true. Everything that had happened to me as a result of having this mental illness. I stopped writing the book when my character entered the hospital. I found that my memories of the hospital are not too clear. This is because when I was in the hospital I was always in a desperate and weak state of mind. It rapidly became obvious to me that I would have to invent hospital experience. I would have to turn to fiction. And a decade ago I was not up to the task of writing fiction. So the work on the book stopped. And I turned all my creative energy to making art.

Now I have returned to writing my book and I am deep into writing about the hospital experience. I am writing fiction. There are many interesting characters I've invented that are in the hospital. Lately I find that I have to restrain myself to only see these characters through Rachael's eyes. And then I had this dream.

The dream was longer than what I remember. But I remember the message part of the dream.

In this dream I was an assistant to a famous movie director. This director was in the beginning stages of making a movie. He was at the stage where you draw scene after scene on a piece of paper. So he had in his hand a tablet of blank pages.

On a blank page he drew a rectangle. This is what the lens of the camera would see. In the rectangle he drew the capital letter "I". It meant that the main character would begin the movie as Rachael begins my book, saying "I" blah, blah, blah. The movie would be shot in the first person narrative. The movie would begin with a scene tightly focused on the face of the main character.

Then the director erased the "I". And in his rectangle he proceeded to draw a landscape. It was a lovely landscape. And as a picture on a piece of paper naturally it was much more rich and varied and interesting than the letter "I".

What the landscape meant is that the director was going to start the movie, not with the main character, but with a scene of a beautiful landscape. I believe it was a tropical island. The movie camera pulled back from its tight focus on an individual to instead take in a very wide view.

What I understood, was that by changing the drawing in the rectangle, the movie director was changing the narration of his movie. The narration of the movie changed from the first person, to the third person. The third person is what I call the "God" perspective. It is a perspective where everything can be seen and nothing is hidden as long as the narrator wants you to see it.

My interpretation of the dream is that it was telling me to write in the third person. In this form the narrator is allowed to enter into different people's minds, including of course Rachael's mind, and it is probably a much more interesting way of telling a story. The reader sees a far broader "landscape".

So I woke immediately knowing that the style of my book must change. My mind was telling me that there was a better choice to make than my original one. As the dream director of the movie changed his mind, so I must change my mind.

I really don't know the rules of this new perspective. But today, as I wrote, I went very deep into the mind of a social worker in the hospital. What do I know about the art of being a social worker? Ah, it was all invented. Risky business. I shall have social workers complaining that I know nothing about their talent. One can only hope that inspiration runs true.

Social workers of the world look out. I have invented someone who is either your best hope or your worst nightmare.

And my thanks to whomever, or whatever sends me my dreams.

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