Shaun Levin

Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

The Smiling Face

In Writing on September 15, 2020 at 9:40 am

Speaking of death… I’ve been thinking about the courage it takes to write fiction, the faith one needs to disappear into a story so that you can write it. Distraction comes into this, too, because to write fiction we must enter into a dream state, but one in which we can still keep writing, undisturbed. Even now as I write I’m trying to let go into whatever I’m thinking but when I say thinking I mean feeling because to write is to feel, to relinquish analytical thought and merge into a character we’ve created so that we are them and not us observing them. Even if that character is the narrator, that narrator is not us. To make fiction we have to be what we create, much as when we are dreaming. We are whoever we are in the dream, not entirely us, some fictional version of our waking self, but also not entirely not-us.

For the duration of the writing, the character is us. It’s a feeling. You have to feel that what you are writing is true, that it’s not fiction, that whatever dreamscape you’re creating is as terrifying, exhilarating, fascinating, all-consuming as any dream. It takes courage to go there because like in any dream, who knows if we’ll ever wake from it. At least for the duration, but in the end we do, we will.

The analytical eye needs to stay out of this, the I that assumes a reader, that anxious eye, the censoring one. Eye, I, whatever. In the dreamworld of the unconscious, subconscious, whatever, in the dreamworld of the gut, where words are sounds, not letters, they are the same. Eye is I is eye.

The fear of writing fiction is the fear of disappearing, of going down, down, down into ourselves, not necessary into hell, but not not-hell, and to have faith (that word again) that when we re-emerge there will be a smiling face facing us, or we will be remembered (I know you!), our beloved will be there and they will recognise us and want to go out with us for dinner and a walk afterwards. Over and over we disappear and hope that each time we can disappear more and for longer. Each time we will have more faith. It’s a fix, a thrill, to disappear into these dreams of our own making and still – if we’re lucky – return as if nothing has happened, the way, more often than not, we return from dreams. How easy it is to respond to emails after you’ve spent an hour in this other world. “Easy” because you’ve survived disappearing and all that anxiety about the beloved and hell and the smiling face has evaporated now that you’ve emerged from the underworld, singing. Not madder, but milder. Who knew?