Dream Mapping and the Writing Process

When I took Rikki Ducornet’s poetry class at the University of Denver, I had no idea her workshop would open up such a strange, uncanny world to me. I was, during my stint in grad school, having horrific nightmares as I processed some rather unpleasant memories. These dreams haunted me so much that I felt like I didn’t sleep but instead wandered a shifting surreal landscape that left me exhausted in the morning. Rikki encouraged me to write a poem about this dreamscape, and so during the course of the workshop I finished REM, which was published in Inklings Magazine a long time ago. She liked the poem enough to then challenged me to draw a dream map of my nightmares. So of course I did. The great thing about the map is that it all suddenly became real to me–this underground lair.

Merea map

In my fiction workshop with Brian Kiteley, I morphed the landscape of my dreams into a short story called Ophidia, the land underneath. At only 300 words, it wasn’t much of story, but still, it was an eerie, darkish thing. Over the years it grew and developed characters caught in a a game of No Exit. I renamed it Mereá and finally published it Bourbon Penn in 2012. Ophidia, though became a special desert place in my new novel, Elementarí Rising, which housed the the earth spirits. I rather love how my greatest fears and night terrors, once mapped out and seen, became a doorway into the fantastic.

I now must return to edits for the novel. But if you’re in NYC, I might be headed your way for Armory Arts Week.

 In case you missed it, my poem Jael is up on Strange Horizons and my article on the ever lovely Jessca Joslin is up over at Weird fiction review. 


One thought on “Dream Mapping and the Writing Process

  1. Pingback: School’s Out and I’m California Bound « Nancy Hightower

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