In writing, we have many tools at our disposal. Editors, agents, and publishing houses. Writing reference books, English and literature courses, instructors, pre-existing stories from which to pull inspiration, and a world of other authors who are invaluable and quite often friendly and helpful in navigating the business end. We have bloggers, and their diligent work. And we have a world full of information all around us from which to pull ideas, plots, and the mechanics necessary for fabricating entire artificial worlds and universes and beyond.
And whose to say those creations aren’t alternate realities the moment we put pen to paper, or even before that. Whose to say an entire parallel dimension isn’t instantaneously created the moment we begin to imagine them up?
But we also have, Dreams.
When I write, it is very much an after-effect of an exercise in actively dreaming…Imagining.
In fact, I spend so much time and energy actually day-dreaming, sometimes it tricks my mind and confuses me as to which reality is the reality I live in. Or at least, it distracts me from the real world so thoroughly I can lose track of the numbering of the days, and their names. If it weren’t for a day job, the weeks would blur together and I wouldn’t be able to tell you what was Thursday and when Monday is happening.
I also end up spending far less time physically writing than I should, because day-dreaming consumes so much time.
But for me this is integral, if not paramount, to storytelling.
Sometimes, dreams while sleeping can become entire stories, if you can recall them when you awaken. However, I find more often than not, day-dreaming is far more useful.
The way I do what I do very much revolves around visualizing and executing what I see. So much so, that many times, I’m not even reading what I’m typing. I’m simply describing what’s actively taking place in my head. I’m chronicling. I’m taking dictation. I watch the movie play out, over and over again, and it changes bit-by-bit as I write it down. It asks questions, and provides its own naturally-occurring answers. It modifies itself as it unfolds, and by the magical miracle of dreaming it creates connections within itself and our external world to produce clear, resonant images of messages of genuine significant and meaning to me.
(Hopefully others find them important as well, so I’m know I’m not alone in this world.)
And all of this happens because of how I happen to be wired in my own brain. All of its identifiers and its internal networks of connections begin to interact, creating parallels between my worlds and my World.
Plots emerge from the ethereal fabric of thought, and a genesis occurs quite naturally.
Grammar and punctuation can wait. Editing can wait. Rewrites, omissions, additions, ARC readers, cover art, blurbs, reviews, and feedback can all simply sit on their hands and wait. That’s all a set of aspects of writing a story that are utterly irrelevant to me and my story.
First, I must simply dream it to being. Then I can worry about making a coherent vision out of it.
Being a visual artist, and trained in animation arts and film, this comes naturally to me. It’s second nature.
I realize that not everyone has what I have, and not everyone can write linearly, creating plot elements and messages that will inevitably come to a well-tied-together book; all as I fly by the seat of my pants, only holding on for the ride.
But I can impart to others who might do things more structured, just the exercise of day-dreaming and jotting down what comes to you. And I do so for a very specific reason.
The act itself could be as simple as taking the time to reflect on the clouds, or the sound of the birds in the trees, and trying to visualize their world…putting yourself in their place to get a picture of what is happening there…and jotting it down without care as to how lyrical your prose may sound. (Though you may surprise yourself with how poetic things can end up spilling out)
Though, the importance of day-dreaming isn’t to write lyrical, or even sensical. It is to get the ideas turning, and out and down upon the page. Everything else is just fluff, pomp and circumstance, form and function…and in the case of self-editing, pillory for the imagination. Stifling. Yuck. (To me)
Some do wonders when they’re in the editing phase, so I’m not discounting it. I’m simply saying, my magic works in the dream-time, and it’s important because…
The heart of your story is what matters most. The raw idea, the concepts, and the message is worth more than any editing you can do, more precious than any pro-editor, or more prized than any lucrative contract, or even your well honed-grammatical correctness.
For it is that raw idea, those messages, and the concepts that are uniquely yours.
Fret not for your style, or areas you need to work on improving.
Instead, focus on the one thing you’re really trying to sell…the one thing no one else on earth can provide.
You. Your unique individual self.
For no one else can present to the world what your singular imagination can.
It’s your dream. No one else’s.
And perfect it later.
M.P. Ness – Author of White Leaves (E.L.F. Volume 1) – Fantasy
Born in the Midwest, I share my birthday with Leonardo Da Vinci, and seem to share a bit of that creative monster’s spirit.
I paint, draw, write, sculpt, and more.
I’m extremely prolific when I don’t have life and day-jobs tying me down.
I published my debut novel, E.L.F. vol. 1, White Leaves, July 1st, 2013, and hope to release the sequel, Blighted Leaves, sometime early/mid 2014
White Leaves is currently available at all major online retailers in both print-paperback and eBook forms.
I do my own cover-art, book-trailers, formatting, and marketing.
It’s tough, but a thoroughly engaging ride.
I’ve also done logo, cover art, and animations for local Seattle area musicians, other musicians elsewhere, luthiers, videographers, authors, and retailers.
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