It’s a big gift when readers respond to a story, its characters, and its world as if they have visited and are sad to leave. Even better is when a book lingers on in their own world afterward.
Someone told me recently that after reading Snow Fence Road, she had a dream set in its world, among its characters.
She may never know how deep an affirmation this is for me. The book came into being through my vivid dream about the trauma that shatters its hero’s life. Then, like an accompanying mark of closure the week after I finished writing it, I dreamed of the characters in the next stage of their life, after “The End”.
That experience the reader shared is also a reinforcement because in my newest work, The Munich Girl, a character’s dream life is as important a resource for her as every other kind of knowledge. Just as dreams have always been for me. I experienced some inner debate about this when I received feedback that questioned whether it’s of any value to include dreams and their contributions in the novel’s story. I had to remind myself that, for some, dreams have little or no validity in life.
“Dreams are the threads that weave our unconscious wisdom, wishes, knowing and foreknowing into the tapestry of our waking lives,” says Paula Chaffee Scardamalia of The Divining Muse.“They often call us to live larger, to be more than we have imagined for ourselves.”
If anything sums up the call pulling at my novel’s protagonist, it is that last sentence of Paula’s.
“Life consists of two journeys: the outward journey of the body through time and space, and an inner journey of the soul,” writes Dave Tomlinson. And stories are one of the most enduring ways that humans reflect and learn on each of those journeys.
“We are, as a species, addicted to story,” says Jonathan Gottschall in The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. “Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.”
Isn’t it interesting that what we call those nocturnal stories is the same name we give to our most cherished hopes and visions: dreams.
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