The Origin Of An Idea, Part 1: Dreams

Do you ever lie down to sleep and suddenly you find your brain turning something over and over, and you get that idea that you either say you’ll write down in the morning or else drag yourself up by lamplight and scribble a note out. Chances are that if you wait until morning you’ll forget, so another hackneyed writers tip – always keep a pad of paper and pencil by the bed.

Of course it isn’t just the approach of sleep that can have this effect because an idea can strike at any moment. So for the next couple of weeks I’ll probably just ramble about this phenomenon in a variety of forms, starting with some strange brain activity when we do finally fall asleep: dreams.

Many years ago now I dreamed that I was holding a book with a picture and a yellow banner much in the style of the original fantasy masterworks layout. The cover depicted an anthropomorphic figure with a bird’s head, grasping a spear and riding upon the back of a giant. And the best thing? The book was written by me. This prompted the writing of a very short piece about two of these bird people who are fishing for a special kind of fish that changes colour when the blow an underwater whistle.

Not long after I started a new job working in a postroom. With flurries of activity and then stretches of time waiting for the next load of work I used my spare time to turn this original idea in a whole book that then became the beginning of a trilogy, and now resides in literally dozens and dozens of notes and computer files. It is an absolutely enormous body of work, containing a unique world and with at least three different cultures, a fantastical history and origin myth, and its own philosophy that draws upon multiple influences. At some point I hope I can finish this (although my current rate of work perhaps taunts me otherwise).

Anyhow, the point of all this is not to blow my own trumpet (although it may sound like that) but to highlight that one small idea, one small thought or dream could be the starting point for something so much vaster. It only takes a little seed, after all, to grow a whole tree.

So, with pencil and paper by the bed, you’ll always be ready for the morning 😉

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