Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: fictive dream

The Fictional Dream Invades My Personal Life…


In the previous post, The Dreams of The Writer Lead To The Dreams of The Reader…, I began an exploration of what’s called the Fictional Dream, a state of mind writers and readers enter when either creating or consuming a good story.

I urge you to read that post, as well as its comments, before continuing. I was going to incorporate those comments in this post but life has made physical reality take on the garb of fiction

I spend much time in the virtual world, Second Life, and I’d become friends with a remarkable woman. She had become mute at the age of 14 yet had written many poems between then and the age she’d attained when I met her. I’d encouraged her to host one of the Happy Hours on Book Island and share her poetry. Due to her being mute, she could only use the texting feature which puts words above one’s head in a little bubble. I offered to read her poems and she would lead a discussion after each was read.

She was already a good friend of mine when the readings began and those who attended quickly fell in love with her and her work.

Yesterday, I received word that she had died

Her attorney had emailed me and the hours following created many emails and a lengthy phone call.

The attorney was having extreme difficulty getting details of the supposed car crash and the coroner would not release the purported body.

I say “supposed” and “purported” because, until the attorney has taken possession of the body or seen her in a morgue, Jamie will not be dead. It’s still a fiction–a gripping story with drama, mystery, political incompetence, and conspiracy theories centered on a lovely, talented women cruelly cut-down in her 27th year of life

I’m in too much shock to draw-out all the similarities between my experience of this story and the fictional dream of the writer/reader. I’m in the story

If she is proved to be dead, I will still face the fiction of grief’s denial.

Some of you may feel that comments on this post might be in bad taste, but I encourage anyone to make any comment that comes to mind. I’m very much alone, inside a story that threatens to be glaringly true; and, realizing my current state, as I struggle with the lack of precise and confirming information, I quiver to think the story is true and need as much companionship as this venue can provide………
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The Dreams of The Writer Lead To The Dreams of The Reader…


The ideas we’ll explore today were inspired by reading certain posts in Haley Whitehall’s blog.

The dreams indicated in the title up there are what have been given the fancy term, “fictive dreams”, more reasonably called “fictional dreams”.

The writer is in a dream-like state when the creative act is flowing and, hopefully, the reader can fall into a similar state. Still, the dream of the reader is rarely just like the dream of the writer. I’ve explored this natural difference between what the writer proposes and what the reader experiences in four other posts: Reading Leads To Writing, Even If All You’re Reading Is Life… and, Rewriting While You Read ~ We All Do It …, which links to two other, related, posts.

I want your help in writing tomorrow’s post :-)

Edit: If you look at the next post you’ll see I don’t continue the idea explored in this post. What I thought was the death of a good friend caused me to write on other topics. I have yet to return to a follow-up for this post though I’m linking to it today, 10 September, in Google Plus and will be working toward a follow-up post, hopefully soon :-)

I’m going to put three quotes about the Fictional Dream below and hope you’ll put your ideas and feelings in the Comments. Then, I’ll continue today’s conversation tomorrow by weaving your comments into my post :-)

From The Literary Lab: “Writer and teacher John Gardner had a concept he called the fictional dream, which was the idea that fiction does its job by creating a dream state for the reader, and as long as the writer is doing a good job of maintaining that dream state, the reader won’t “wake up” from it and will continue to read and believe in the fictional world the writer has created. Gardner argues that this fictional dream first happens in the writer’s head, and the writer’s job is to write it down for the reader:

“In the writing state—the state of inspiration—the fictive dream springs up fully alive: the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols. The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it, so that when the dream flags he can reread what he’s written and find the dream starting up again. This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things—sees them clearly—and in the act of wondering what they will do next he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.”

From Anatomy of Melancholy: “Writers are often asked: ‘How do you write? With a word processor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand?’ But the essential question is: ‘Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write? Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas–inspiration.’ If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn. When writers talk to each other, what they discuss is always to do with this imaginative space, this other time. ‘Have you found it? Are you holding it fast?’” — Doris Lessing,  Nobel Lecture, 2007

From Star-Crossed Romance: “I’m so glad to know other writers feel the same as me. Ever start writing and not want to come out of that dream state? I have. The obligations of real life take a back seat to story when the fictive dream is flowing strong. My dog Lily will stand beside me in vain, trying to will me to take her outside to play. I tell her she has to wait, like the dishes and laundry and sometimes the cooking. When I’m deep in the flow, it’s difficult for me to find that exact wave again.

“Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes the flow slows to a trickle and strands me on a rocky bed. So getting up and walking away can be a good thing. It can lend perspective, so that next time I dive in, the flow will be stronger.”

O.K., let the Comments Begin :-)
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Follow the “co-author” of Notes from An Alien, Sena Quaren:
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