Lois Lowry's Blog


The Dream World

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 14 February 2010 in Uncategorized

I have sometimes been asked by kids whether I get book ideas in dreams. And the answer has always been no.

But the other night I dreamed a book plot. I think actually, within the dream, I realized it was the plot of a novel, and was excited by what a great idea it was, with such amazing and original possiblities. 

Essentially it was this: the main character, the protganist, was a woman in her seventies who though elderly was smart and energetic and interesting. In the dream she reminded me of the actress who used to play Miss Marple on the BBC.

Somehow, though, she had lost all of her money (plot detail to be worked out---how had this happened?  She invested with Madoff?) and so was homeless. But she was a church-goer, and the clergyman at her (maybe Episcopal? Anglican?) church had an empty room available at the church and allowed her to move in there.

So my protaganist is living in a church, which feels a little odd, even to her; and to repay the church's generosity, she decides to create and publish (somehow; no details in the dream) a weekly newsletter about the members of the church congregation.

So then it gets really interesting (or NOT) because each person, or family, that she writes about has deeply held secrets that---get this---only she knows.

Okay. That's it, folks. The dreamed novel. I woke up with a feeling of great discovery and exhilaration because of the stunning brilliance of this idea.

And then, in the light of day, I thought about what I had remembered of it. And: whammo. It wasn't stunning, wasn't brilliant, wasn't intriguing, wasn't, in fact, anything. And that is the fate of every dreamed idea I have ever had. Once, I remember, I dreamed a dream so funny that I woke laughing aloud. Then, when I thought about it, it wasn't funny at all. It was ten times stupider than the worst Comedy Central stand-up.

So much for creative dreaming. I do, however, have a standard repertoire of anxiety-filled dreams: the about-to-be-missed planes; the it's-Christmas-and-I-forgot-to-buy-gifts; the exam-time-and-I-never-wen-to-the-class-or-read-the-textbook; the oh-dear-will-people-notice-that-I-have-no-clothes-on. In a relatively stress-free life I nonetheless run through that repertoire fairly often, as I think most people do.

So: if I were on a psychiatrist's couch and had related my old-lady-living-in-the-church dream, I would be invited to examine the why of it. Not a clue.  I do have a book coming out next year in which the main characters all live in a church---but other than that there is absolutely no relationship to the dream. If the protaganist is me, as I think Freud would have me believe---am I thinking of writing a book which reveals the dark secrets of seemingly respectable people I know?  Do I even know people's dark secrets? No. (But I have been reading about John Edwards lately.)

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