Dreams and creativity
Thanks for joining me at paulamarais.com. When considering my first blog post on my beautiful new website built by Kara Peters, I had so many ideas. Usually these appeared in the writing witching hour, which for me encompasses the final moments your eyes are closed and you slip off into sleep. Of course, I can’t remember my brilliant, erudite column in the morning and I’m back where I started. That doesn’t mean, however, that one forgets everything one dreams about. In my recent novel, Shadow Self, which was longlisted for the Etisalat prize, Thea – who is suffering from postnatal psychosis – dreams about a garden and a scene that I dreamt myself, except I was the person with the shovel…
It goes something like this: Thea’s husband Rajit is digging a deep hole. As he digs, “he dislodge[s] creamy-beige earthworms that pulsate and writhe, their saddles engorged and repulsive. Moving the soil, the earthworms beg[i]n to grow, crowning the soil now as fat, white maggots.” These maggots begin to sprout limbs and fur and eventually become bleating, bloody lambs as he attacks them with his rusty spade.
The dream was so vivid that even now I can remember it. So as my oldest son often declares – and he is not even a teenager yet – perhaps I am a bit weird. But isn’t that the benefit of writing? You get to express yourself in ways that may not be entirely appropriate in real life. Or that might indeed be – if you were someone else. Writing is your chance to live many lives but also to take on the worst or best of your experiences and recycle them into a story.
That is why my philosophy is: ‘one day I’ll write about this’. When I landed in hospital for major surgery on my leg that had me incapacitated for more than a year (and sometimes, unfortunately, still does), I spent a lot of time in pain, but also clenching my teeth and trying to remember what it felt like so I could describe it. Experiences like these are what really build us as humans. But they also build us as writers and readers because we understand.
In my other novels The Punishment and Love and Wine I touch on other human themes. For the first book: revenge, betrayal, infidelity and secrets. For the second: jealousy, sibling rivalry, creativity – both in wine and art – and mental illness. If any of these themes speak to you, I’d love you to read them and tell me what you think.