Dreaming of Jane

Dreaming of Jane

A couple of months ago I had a Jane Austen related nightmare. Can you believe it, a nightmare about our dearest Jane? In the dream, she was running through the woods, and someone was chasing her. She threw a pen at the pursuer because it was the only weapon she had. How’s that for symbolism? But what did my dream mean to me? It was scary, that’s for sure. Scary enough to wake me up in the middle of the night. I shared it on Facebook the next day, and got a lot of reactions, but if I had to analyze it myself, and most analysts would say that you are the decider of your own dream’s significance, I would say it means that I’m worried about something related to my writing. Breaking it down further, I sometimes worry about whether Jane would appreciate my taking her stories and twisting them around. What would she really think of all this fan fiction? Would she be flattered or annoyed? Another interpretation might be that I worry about whether what I’m writing will please my fans, or if they will hate me for it and come after me, figuratively speaking.

No matter how one might interpret the nightmare, usually my writing-related dreams are more helpful than not. For instance, the idea for the JAFF I’m currently working on, Darcy’s Awakening, came to me in a dream. I dreamed that when Darcy meets Lizzy at the Meryton assembly, he’s already engaged to someone else. I woke up thinking, wow! That’s a plot! Shortly after, it occurred to me who I would have him be engaged to, and the idea shocked even me. If you happen to be following the story on either fanfiction.net or Darcyandlizzy.com, you already know, and perhaps are one of the people who have expressed your great astonishment in the reviews, while also urging me to post more chapters as quickly as possible to see how it turns out.

In general, my sleeping hours really feed my writing. Often, if I am stuck trying to figure out what should happen next in a story, or how a plot point should come about, I run it through my mind before I go to sleep, and often come up with an answer. Then, it’s a matter of remembering it until morning. How I wish I were one of those late night writers who leap out of bed and write it all down. Alas, I need my beauty sleep, so ideas have to wait until the morning to get fleshed out on the page, and this is not convenient because sometimes I do forget an idea. For instance, one night I came up with a great idea of how the Gardiners would work into the plot of my current story, and then forgot by the next morning, and now can’t remember for the life of me.

I think the most useful my nighttime mind has been for my writing though is when I wrote my first novel, my Regency time-travel book, The Time Baroness. This was before I knew I even wanted to be a writer. In order to fall asleep at night, I used to sometimes tell myself stories. One night, after reading a Jane Austen novel before bed (I don’t even remember which one), I began telling myself a story of a woman from the future, a scientist, who travels back in time to Jane Austen’s day in order to find out what life was really like for women back then. Of course she meets with romance and adventure, and eventually the story became so interesting to me it kept me up rather than putting me to sleep. That’s when I knew I had to write it down.

I often share that story when people ask me how I got the idea for that book, which leads me to wonder how other authors get their ideas. Whether night-dreaming, daydreaming, or some other source, if you’re an author, please share! Where do your ideas and inspirations come from?

21 Responses to Dreaming of Jane

  1. Georgina, This is such a delightful post. I somehow missed it. I used to keep a small dictaphone on my night table. I would repeat my most excellent dream ideas into the little recorder. But after a number of brilliant nights, I listened to the tapes and wondered who that creature was mumbling gibberish into the recorder. PS… I can’t wait for you to publish Darcy’s Awakening. Cheers!

  2. My idea for ‘My Head Upon the £10 Note’ came from my continuous question: ‘What would Jane make of all this fame? How would she react?’ So I took her on a time-travel tour to 2016. I chose Limerick, Ireland, because it’s my home and also because Tom Lefroy came from Limerick. The writing answered my question – I no longer have to wonder!

  3. This pertains to a source for creative ideas that may be slightly inappropriate; however, it is hilarious. My favorite craft magazine had a cartoon in each issue and they promised to pay $25 for each cartoon idea from subscribers. My Gyn had left town and the much younger doctor that took his place suddenly changed my hormone. Wow!! Let me tell you… changed my perspective completely. Everything was either full-rage-anger or hilarious laughter. For some reason I was constantly thinking of ideas for that stupid cartoon. I would wake-up in the middle of the night laughing and would write ideas on a note pad I had stationed nearby. The next morning I would find all these ideas. I had made nearly $400 by the time my poor husband said, “Honey, you are going to have to change that hormone or we are going to get a divorce.” Dang. I went back to the doctor and never had a cartoon idea after that. Oh well, I do still have the husband though.

  4. I just added your book The Time Baroness to my to be read shelf because it sounded really fun and the last couple of Regency Time Travel books I read were a really interesting. Your dream sounded really interesting, maybe it will help you come up with something for a story.

  5. I just added The Time Baroness to my to be read list because it sounded really fun. Your dream sounded really interesting, hopefully your dream helps inspire some new writing.

  6. Thank you for your post, Georgina.

    I find that ideas usually come to me before I sleep or when I wake up. And I’ve learned to write them down immediately, because, I too, found that they were lost and never returned.

    Lately, after reading an article on ‘Training Your Muse,’ I’ve found that writing just after I wake up when I’m half asleep has allowed me a free flow of writing. The author suggested 15 minutes, but I never do anything half way. Writing each time for about two hours has given me a chapter for each writing period. I’m already eight chapters into my next novella. So, it is working, for me, at least. 🙂

  7. Georgina, this is a fantastic post! I love your graphics. I believe our dreams can give us clues, if we are willing to search them out.

  8. I am an avid reader of time travel and I LOVE The Time Baroness. Great idea for a story. It’s been some time since I read it. Maybe a reread is in order.

  9. I love the two graphics you found for your post, Georgina. They’re perfect. I like to think Jane Austen would be flattered, maybe even incredulous, if she could find out how much people love her work and characters and want them to live on over and over again. Also, I’m sure what you’re writing is pleasing your fans 🙂

    I’m like you. Most of my story ideas come to me when I’m asleep. Often, the scene I dreamed doesn’t make it into the final book, but when I dream a scene all of the characters and the whole world come into my head (I only dream fantasy and sci fi, never Regency), as well as the overall story the scene is part of, so I have everything I need to work with.

    I also tell myself stories to fall asleep at night, but they never keep my up. I don’t know what that says about my stories! 🙂

    Maybe you should keep a notepad and pencil by the bed. I do. Usually, I can jot something down quick, somewhere on the page (I don’t turn on a light), that will let me remember my thoughts in the morning. I use a pencil because it’s less likely to get ink on anything I didn’t mean to get ink on. Much less likely, lol.

    • That’s so interesting, Summer! I love hearing about how your ideas come to you in your sleep. That’s a creative mind hard at work! I think I will start keeping a pad and pencil by the bed. Shoulda been doing that all along 🙂

  10. It’s funny what great ideas can come to you when you are trying to sleep or are sleeping. I had a work related issue that I wasn’t sure how to solve. And sure enough I was unable to sleep one night and suddenly thought of how I could solve the problem. I quickly wrote it down and tried it out and it was successful. I am sure your dream inspired Darcy’s Awakening will be just as successful:)

    • Glad you got your work problem solved 🙂 I sometimes wish I didn’t have to sleep at all (but I do! Eight hours to be optimally functional.) Just think of all we could get done if we didn’t waste all that time sleeping!

  11. What a fascinating post, Georgina! I read a theory, ages ago, that the brain becomes more creative when you lie down at night because your body isn’t fighting gravity to get blood (and therefore oxygen) to it, as it is during the day when you’re upright. No idea if that theory has any sound scientific basis whatsoever! I used to do the same as you and tell myself stories before drifting off to sleep but when I eventually decided to write things down, it seemd to actually negate the creativity so I guess I’m not destined to become a writer. I’m so glad people like you and the others here, and elsewhere, were, though. Keep on dreaming, please.

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