Dreams, nightmares, memories and imagination

Etching I made in 2010.

Etching I made in 2010.

Dreams, nightmares, memories and imagination

Those four things sum up exactly my sources of inspiration when I write a story, create a work of art or come up with a film scenario. They form the basis of everything I create.

Imagination is the most powerful skill we humans have, in my opinion. In a previous post about the story animal I may have said the ability to tell stories is humanity’s most powerful skill, but I have adjusted my view a little. As I mentioned in that post, we can tell stories about the past, the present, the future and the it-will-never-happen. To me, imagination is the latter, the it-will-never-happen. While a story about future plans is something the storyteller may wish for, or dread for that matter, imagination allows us to create stories about people, places and events that don’t exist and never have or will.

That is just an amzing thing to me. Fom an evolutionary viewpoint, I am guessing that imagination developed as a means to help humans envision plans for the future; it allows us to think ahead and consider consequences before taking action. However, probably as soon as we had the ability, we have used imagination to create stories that will never happen, for no other reason than to delight us.

Memories are our own personal stories of the past. Of course ‘memories’ is a very broad concept that pretty much encompasses one’s entire life, but what I mean is the kind of memories that made an emotional impact.This includes memories of stories that other people have told me (films, books, plays, history, friends, et cetera). No writer nowadays writes without carrying along a head full of stories. They have influence, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Dreams and nightmares are slightly weird and wonderful at the same time. And gruesome. I have a confession to make. I don’t have dreams. I only have nightmares, although some of them occasionally have a happy bit, too. I also have more dreams/nightmares than the average person. Normally I can remember at least one, and sometimes up to three nightmares every night. Every night. The things I experience vary from mildly unpleasant to outright gruesome. So I decided to use the most vivid ones (the ones with the strongest emotions) and try to channel those emotions and images into my stories. So far, this plan has met with moderate success. I once heard that filmdirector Paul Verhoeven has the same thing. His dreams are all nightmares too, apparently. I wonder if he uses them in his films. They are certainly weird enough!

What inspires you? Do your dreams and nightmares inspire you? Your memories? Do you have a lot of nightmares?

In Conclusion

     “Hi, I’m Otto,” the boy said to me.
     I looked at him in disbelief. I would never name anyone in my fantasy worlds Otto.
     “You wanted this place to be unpredictable. That’s why I’m here.”
     I frowned. Had I said I wanted this place to be unpredictable? Oh, yes. I had. Interesting. Otto smiled at me and I couldn’t help but like him. He was so unlike anything I had ever seen in the real world. That was precisely it of course, he was different and that was enough in itself. I smiled back.
     “You’re right. Hi. My name is… am I allowed to have a different name?”
     Otto cocked his head to the side. “Different from what?”
     Good point. I dug through my brain, trying to find a name I liked. They all sounded silly. Not that I objected to a healthy dose of silliness every now and then, but this was not the right kind of silly. The boy looked at me expectantly, pushing his glasses a little further up his nose. I sighed, defeated by my own lack of creativity after only a short struggle.
     “I’m Gertie.”

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