On Writing, Dreams, and Talking with Children

My son is now four. Often on the way to daycare, Sebastian tells me about his dreams. Or rather, he tells me stories that he invents as we drive, and calls them dreams perhaps because he isn’t sure how else to name what it is that he’s doing. They involve fantastical journeys down sewer pipes that, in his dream world, are called “dreanies.” He flies, floats, drives, grows giant and shrinks small.

Then one morning he says, “I’ve run out of dreams, Mummy. Today I need to play a lot, so I can make more dreams and get good ideas.”

So, even though he cannot yet read, it occurs to me that Sebastian too is a writer in his own way.

My favourite dream is something he calls “World of Game.” It’s so complicated he can’t explain or even understand it. “No one can,” he adds.

Yes, writing can be like dreaming. When we create texts or tell stories, we go deep into ourselves to examine the things we can’t explain or understand until we find or write our way through our own puzzles and riddles. Each in our own World of Game. Each trying to understand the incomprehensible, and to explain the inexplicable.

“I still have many bad dreams,” explains Sebastian in his quirky English that comes from being bilingual. “It’s just my living.”

Telling his dreams is a way for my son to make sense of his life.

I write to do the same.

[Photo: DeeJayTee23]

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6 Replies to “On Writing, Dreams, and Talking with Children”

  1. I think he might be. For as long as I can remember that is what I did growing up.. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized I was writing stories in my head. It took me a while to figure out that I could write them down. For me, it was a pivotal moment. Silly as it sounds, it’s how I discovered I was a virtual writer and after I made the transition to journal and keyboard.

  2. It’s wonderful how you’ve been able to discover how Sebastian’s “dream telling” is his own way of writing! And I agree with you, writing is indeed a way many of us adults make sense of our own lives. I stand by the belief that writing is not only therapeutic, but it allows us to make sense of the things that we don’t understand. I try to incorporate it into my day every day and find that it serves to inspire my creativity. Great post!

  3. Bella, Kelly, and Brenda,
    Thanks so much for writing and sharing your thoughts. I recently have become friendly with a group of women writers who do “dream work” at writing retreats. I don’t often remember my dreams, but since these conversations with Sebastian started, and since spending a weekend with my dreamy and writerly friends, I think I’d like to try and be more vigilant and aware. Perhaps what brews in our subconscious is more connected to our writing processes than we think.

    As for Sebastian’s stories, I’m so grateful for them. He’s at such a magical age, and I’m trying to capture some of what he says and record it in my work, not only for him, but so I can remember what it’s like to be 4.

  4. I love this post, too! It covers my deepest passions: children, writing and dreams. I love Sebastian’s World of Games. It reminds me of when my daughter was his age and she wanted to play on the McDonald’s play structure that she called A Thing of Fun. Age 4 is such a magical age.

  5. I think I love Sebastian. How adorable! He sounds like the perfect MC for a picture book.

    I’m going to have to learn about his World of Games. That is such a fantastic thing… as well as being a great book title. (Hint hint. :-)

    This bit: “I’ve run out of dreams, Mummy. Today I need to play a lot, so I can make more dreams and get good ideas.” Oh my gosh! It makes you just want to kiss him, and reflect how true and right he is.

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