Dream balls, redwood forests and IASD

I’m thinking longingly of Chicago. It’s like an ache in my throat. I’ve never even been to the place, but it’s about to host one of the most fabulous yearly conferences: a dream conference where people connect through their dream imagery, spend days immersed in creative workshops and presentations, art exhibitions and special events, and end up at a rollicking costume ball where everyone dresses up as a dream they’ve had and dances the night away.

Since I can’t be there this year, a friend of mine has graciously offered to present my paper on lucid dreaming, synaesthesia, and sleep disorders; it’s about dreaming into fiction. Writers daydream books into existence, they draw on original imagery embedded in their unconscious and freely available in dreams. I love that about writing – there’s no end to creativity because new dreams are dreamed every night and can be expanded by day into fiction. Could there be a more fun career? OK, I know it’s not all just dream-fun but masses of hard graft too, but dreaming certainly peps up the whole process big time.


When I think of IASD (Int. Assoc. for the Study of Dreams) conferences, I think of the friends I’ve made and the dreams I’ve heard. I remember dressing up as a blonde hippie-chick for the dream ball; standing in the booming silence of giant redwoods in a forest in Sonoma; watching in my dream as a monkey woman gives birth to a smiling baby. You come away from a conference like that not only replete with your own dreams, but filled with the powerful, emotive dream images of others. It makes for a kind of turbo-boost of creative imagery which can split your mind so wide that suddenly it’s teeming with story energy and you can’t wait to leap to your desk and write by day… and close your eyes and swim back into your dreams at night. Well, that’s how it affects me, anyway. Do I sound jealous that I’m not going this year? I am!


Something to try: tomorrow morning when you wake up, don’t get up immediately. Stay in the same position for a moment with your eyes closed and think back to what you were just doing in your dreams. Even if all you remember is a shape or a sound or a feeling, that’s fine. Using your dream image/colour/emotion as a starting point, take a pen and write for five minutes without stopping to think. See what happens… surprise yourself.


2 Responses to “Dream balls, redwood forests and IASD”

  1. christine swint, June 28, 2009 at 2:08 am

    I wish I were going this year too. I dressed as Frida Khalo for the ball last year. She’s very iconic for me. Your description of the effect the conference has on creativity sums up how it is for me too. Well, maybe we’ll meet next year, right? I’m sure you’ll receive lots of good wishes from your old friends about your lucid dreaming paper.

  2. Clare Jay, June 29, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Yes, there’s always next year… Last time I dressed up for the ball as a kind of funky version of the goddess Lakshmi in a blue sequinned dress and sang a ghost-busting chant I’d dreamed. I love the dream-craziness of the conferences and it’s such fertile ground for the imagination.

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