Tag Archives: dreams

Keys To Success

keys

All of us have some sort of aspirations for our Creative Writing careers. Success is different for each of us. While we may realize that triumph does not come about merely by well wishing, too many times we act as if it will. True victory in life, regardless of how we define it, will only come about by focus and dedication.

Like A Dog On A Bone

Have you ever seen a dog chew on a bone? He knows it’ll be a long and difficult process, but I have never seen focus in my life more than a dog on a bone. When I see that a dog has a bone, nothing can distract him from his task at hand. Even time does not weary him. You cannot take it from him, and after trying once, you’ll know not to try again. Not only will the dog win that tug-of-war, you could receive a war wound from this. You don’t even want to pet a dog when he’s working over a bone.

If we are going to find success in life, we needed to be as focused as a dog on a bone. Some people strive for success, but give up when the meticulousness of achievement wears down on them, but not a dog. Certain folk desire achievement, but strangely will let others take it from them. They don’t have the dog on a bone mentality. And just like a dog doesn’t like to be petted when he as a bone, we need to be weary of friends when it comes to our accomplishments. Our loved ones can be the one thing that can derail our victory train, and only if we let them. We don’t want to hurt our loved ones, and yet we will allow them to hurt us by blocking us from achieving ultimate victory in life.

Like A Gazelle Being Hunted

Sometimes you can define something by looking at its opposite. Success is not failing. Life is a pass/fail exam. So to do the things that keep you from failing will be in line with carrying out what you need for success. This is important because some people feel as if they can still fall just short of their aspirations and still be considered successful. That’s like saying you can strike out in baseball but think of it as a home run because you were close. If you strike out, you are out. No one in archery misses he target and yells, “Bulls eye!”

From the Bible, the sixth chapter from the book of Proverbs deals with the need to be industrious and productive. In the fifth verse, Solomon says, “Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter.” For a gazelle, success is not getting killed. Failure is not acceptable. Close enough and almost there still leave you as a trophy head on someone’s wall and steak dinners for the family. Run toward success, but also run away from failure. Run as if failure cannot be acceptable. Succeed or die! This is the only path to victory.

Going To The Mattresses

We have all heard the phrase “go to the mat,” especially when it is someone telling us how committed they are to some goal or project. They are willing to “go to the mat,” in other words, do what ever it takes to accomplish what they want. The phrase has grown threadbare and means little today, but its origins should breathe new life into the power of this claim.

It comes from the 1972 movie, “The Godfather,” and actually the phrase is “go to the mattresses.” Clemenza tells Pauly to see a guy downtown about picking up a bunch of mattresses (about 25 of them) because “Sonny is ready to go to the mattresses over this thing.” To go to the mattresses is gangster slang from this time meaning to go to all out war with a rival gang. These mobsters would have several rooms with nothing but mattresses covering the floor. These were for the soldiers in this makeshift barracks of sorts. If you are at war with another gangster, you are either on the street to kill someone or sleeping.

If success for us is just a little “it would be nice to” kind of fantasy, we will not succeed. Achieving our goals or not is the difference between eating and being eaten. It is winning and losing a war. All of these phrases have to do with survival. Human achievement is unique to people of dedication, and we need to keep it. We should all want something we can focus upon. If we have no dreams, no aspirations in this life, if we are not noted for accomplishments, but merely eat and sleep, nothing more, then we might as well be animals since this I how they exist. Dreams make us human and reaching them keeps us truly alive in every sense of the word.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative Writing

The Seven Types Of Dreams

We all dream. Psychologists and psychoanalysis have categorized our dreams into seven types. They have given us the common interpretation of these kinds of dreams. Since we all dream, then so should our characters. By this we can develop our characters with a very primal and universal device and go to depths of a character’s being.

Some may be wondering about this, saying, “I was told in Creative Writing class not to use dreams in my writing.” That is not exactly the rule. What is generally considered poor story telling is to develop a scene with your main character interacting with others in very interesting and quite revealing ways only to have that main character sit up suddenly in bed in a panting panic. In other words, don’t spring a dream on your reader. It’s a violation of trust that is hard to be forgiven of. It’s like some tease with no payoff or resolution.

What you may do is describe a character going to sleep and demonstrate going deeper and deeper and then describe the dream letting the reader fully know that it is a dream. Or you may have a character tell another character about a strange dream they had the other night and then detail the aspects of the dream to them. By these means a Creative Writer can use dreams to show us what that person is really like. So let us consider the seven types of dreams and their interpretation.

  • Being chased – This is the most common dream. The chase represents a threat. And while it can be a person, it is usually an emotion the dreamer is having difficulties handling in their waking life. What is chasing the dreamer, the setting of the chase, and how the dreamer feels while being chased also come into the final interpretation.
  • Being late – This demonstrates a feeling of something lacking within the dreamer. It could be regarding a missed opportunity, a missing interpersonal connection, or a perceived lack of self-control in a given matter. How the dreamer feels for being late, what made him late, and what others think about the dreaming coming in late are all important.
  • Naked – This usually involves a fear of exposure. The dreamer fells vulnerable to the fear that someone will learn of some secret or that others might learn the dreamer is somehow inadequate. Sometimes others notice and sometimes they don’t.
  • Falling – There is a lack of security and even a lack of support with this kind of dream. Falling is usually associated with failure or fear of failure. There is a terrible feeling of a lack of control over this insecurity regarding failure.
  • Flying – If falling denotes failure, then flying is success. Deep down the dreamer has a great deal of confidence and can soar over any problem. This can come from real success or a false notion of something that will work out that may not.
  • Losing your teeth – There are two uses for this dream. One is a fear that the dreamer looks physically insufficient or is sexually inadequate. This all has to do with our use of the smile in engaging others. The other use of this dream has to do with a fear that we are unable to deal with a problem, or chew over some difficulty. The interpretation can be honed into one of these two with how the lack of teeth becomes a problem. Is the dreamer losing his teeth before other people, or are they unable to bite and chew on something?
  • Snakes – If the dreamer fears some hidden threat, it may appear as a snake. If may be the dread of a real yet hidden fear, or it may be a simple paranoia where someone is just generally afraid that something bad is going to spoil everything and there is no real reason for this fear.

I have only used a dream once in a story. I was a chase dream. But I didn’t use it in these ways. It was used to show how the dreamer felt about a certain character. Clearly, there are different uses for dreams other than these. But let’s not neglect these applications, as they can be used to show the readers the real person in our stories. Remember that these are just broad categories and the details can be a varied as the dreamers. These are excellent places to start. Sweet dreams!

1 Comment

Filed under Creative Writing

Canines, Gazelles, & Mattresses

All of us have some sort of aspirations for our lives. Success is different for each of us. While we may realize that triumph does not come about merely by well wishing, too many times we act as if it will. True victory in life, regardless of how we define it, will only come about by focus and dedication.

Like A Dog On A Bone

Have you ever seen a dog chew on a bone? He knows it’ll be a long and difficult process, but I have never seen focus in my life more than a dog on a bone. When I see that a dog has a bone, nothing can distract him from his task at hand. Even time does not weary him. You cannot take it from him, and after trying once, you’ll know not to try again. Not only will the dog win that tug-of-war, you could receive a war wound from this. You don’t even want to pet a done when he’s working over a bone.

If we are going to find success in life, we needed to be as focused as a dog on a bone. Some people strive for success, but give up when the meticulousness of achievement wears down on them, but not a dog. Certain folk desire achievement, but strangely will let others take it from them. They don’t have the dog on a bone mentality. And just like a dog doesn’t like to be petted when he as a bone, we need to be weary of friends when it comes to our accomplishments. Our loved ones can be the one thing that can derail our victory train, and only if we let them. We don’t want to hurt our loved ones, and yet we will allow them to hurt us by blocking us from achieving ultimate victory in life.

Like A Gazelle Being Hunted

Sometimes you can define something by looking at its opposite. Success is not failing. Life is a pass/fail exam. So to do the things that keep you from failing will be in line with carrying out what you need for success. This is important because some people feel as if they can still fall just short of their aspirations and still be considered successful. That’s like saying you can strike out in baseball but think of it as a home run because you were close. If you strike out, you are out. No one in archery misses he target and yells, “Bulls eye!”

From the Bible, the sixth chapter from the book of Proverbs deals with the need to be industrious and productive. In the fifth verse, Solomon says, “Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter.” For a gazelle, success is not getting killed. Failure is not acceptable. Close enough and almost there still leave you as a trophy head on someone’s wall and steak dinners for the family. Run toward success, but also run away from failure. Run as if failure cannot be acceptable. Succeed or die! This is the only path to victory.

Going To The Mattresses

We have all heard the phrase “go to the mat,” especially when it is someone telling us how committed they are to some goal or project. They are willing to “go to the mat,” in other words, do what ever it takes to accomplish what they want. The phrase has grown threadbare and means little today, but its origins should breathe new life into the power of this claim.

It comes from the 1972 movie, “The Godfather,” and actually the phrase is “go to the mattresses.” Clemenza tells Pauly to see a guy downtown about picking up a bunch of mattresses (about 25 of them) because “Sonny is ready to go to the mattresses over this thing.” To go to the mattresses is gangster slang from this time meaning to go to all out war with a rival gang. These mobsters would have several rooms with nothing but mattresses covering the floor. These were for the soldiers in this makeshift barracks of sorts. If you are at war with another gangster, you are either on the street to kill someone or sleeping.

If success for us is just a little “it would be nice to” kind of fantasy, we will not succeed. Achieving our goals and not is the difference between eating and being eaten. It is winning and losing a war. All of these phrases have to do with survival. Human achievement is unique to people, and we need to keep it. We should all want something we focus upon. If we have no dreams, no aspirations in this life, if we are not noted for accomplishments, but merely eat and sleep, nothing more, then we might as well be animals since this I how they exist. Dreams make us human and reaching them keeps us truly alive in every sense of the word.

Let me hear your thought on success in life and focus for our dreams. Leave your opinions in the Comment section below.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

To Dream The Impossible Dream

If you’re like me, you have confusing aspirations. There is something you want to do, and it seems impossible. So what do you do? What do I do? Do we try to find some way to make this aspiration possible, or do we give up and keep our heads down? 

Our Focus

I’ll bet that upon closer examination, that to which we aspire is not impossible, but just very difficult. Maybe we have known that all along. It’s easier to give up on something that we think can’t be done than something that we know will take a lot of hard work to accomplish. Perhaps the thing we need to look at is not our aspirations, but ourselves.

Obstacles may stifle us, but rewards will encourage us. We may worry about how we will do it, or we can anticipate how great it will feel to accomplish it. Where we set our gaze has everything to do with how we set our feet. When we feel ourselves shrinking back by fear, we should repeat this mantra: Don’t focus on the Leap, but rather on the Landing.

A Scriptural Example

Consider an illustration from the Bible. Even if you’re not a Christian, it is still an interesting angle to consider. The 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews is known as Faith’s Hall of Fame. It details several Old Testament heroes who overcame various obstacles because of their faith.

From there we come to the 12th chapter, which begins, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” It’s as if we as runners who have entered a large coliseum filled with spectators, faith’s heroes mentioned in the previous chapter. By their example they are cheering us on as we run the race that is our life.

If life is a race, then it is a marathon and not a sprint. So what do long distance runners think about during the big race? Do they think about how thirsty they are? Do they worry about how sore they feel? Do they focus on how weary they have become? No, they think of only one thing: the finish line.

That brings us to the second verse in Hebrews 12. It says, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We, too, look to our finish line, and Jesus is holding the ribbon.

Jesus’s obstacles were more severe than any we will ever face. He was willing to endure the cross and despise its shame because of “the joy that was set before Him,” which was the prerogative to sit down at the right hand of the throne of God afterward. Said differently, Jesus did not focus on the Leap, but rather on the Landing.

No Easy Guarantees

Just because we take the Leap does not mean the Landing will go smoothly. We may not get the job. Our new business may fail. The girl of your dreams may turn you down. We may fall short, but there is something to be said for the person who has the courage to try, because even when he or she must lift themselves up from dismality, that type of person will have the courage to try again.

I would much rather be the one who took the Leap even though the Landing was hard than be the person who never had their knuckles scraped and bloodied by life. I would much prefer to be made miserable by my tremendous catastrophes than spend my life sulking about how my life never turned out the way I imagined it. I want to be the one who will dream the impossible dream and fight the unbeatable foe regardless of the outcome rather than the one who kept himself clean and safe, who clucks his tongue and says, “I told you it wouldn’t work.”

Also, I want You to be carried by your dreams beyond the visible horizons of the aspirationless. Write down your dreams, and then make lists on how you will carry them out. You may see that your Impossible Dream is not just Possible, but with passion and hard work, who knows but it may be yours.

Remember, Don’t focus on the Leap, but rather on the Landing.

Your thoughts are important to me. Please leave a Comment below and let me know what you’re thinking.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Why The Great Gatsby Is The Best American Novel

This material is available in my book, The Gatsby Reader. It is available on Amazon and Kindle.

gatsby reader

I can’t wait to read the comments for this post. I’m sure there are some who like me enjoy reading Fitzgerald, but I’m further convinced there are others who will strongly disagree.

The Great Gatsby is my favorite American novel. I have read it over fifty times (to tell the truth, I’ve lost count by now). But when I say that The Great Gatsby is the greatest American novel I mean more than it is the best novel writer by an American author. I mean it is the most advanced book on the subject of America itself. Jay Gatsby is not just an American by his national citizenship, but he exists in the clearest way of what it means to be an American. He is an American Everyman.

He Is We And We Are He

Nick wonders at Gatsby’s capacity for hope. Fitzgerald ties this into the American ideal in his close to the novel. Before Nick leaves West Egg, he looks around and thinks about the wonder that Dutch sailors must have felt when they first saw this New World. This sense of wonder is also expressed as their dreams in this verdant and green world.

Fitzgerald moves then to the green light at the end of the dock of the Buchannan house across the courtesy bay over in East Egg. Remember that the first time Nick sees Gatsby, the playboy is standing on the beach staring at the green light. Fitzgerald ties the Dutch wonder of dreams regarding this new, green republic to Gatsby’s hope when he then tells us that “Gatsby always believed in the green light.”

In his closing words, Fitzgerald associates all of this with you and I with the personal pronoun “we.” The sailors’ dreams and Gatsby’s belief symbolize American hope. Jut like Gatsby, someday we will reach out further and we will run faster.

We Hopeful Americans

This hope of Gatsby’s didn’t quite work out like he would have liked it. In fact, his hope started after his failure had begun; and still, he hoped. Like the dreamful Gatsby, we beat on, even though our boats run against the current. This is because of what has already been locked in by our past. And yet, we continue to hope.

Americans are indeed the inheritors of these Dutch sailors and all who came to this New World looking for a better life. Scholar comment on how The Great Gatsby addresses the failure of the American Dream, and yet, we as Americans still dream. Bunker Hill didn’t kill the revolution, it fueled it. The dread of 9/11 did not compel us to give up, but pull together a rebuild. We don’t throw in the towel very easily, eve when it seems there is every reason to.

The Challenge To Writers

What makes Gatsby so Great is what makes Americans Great. His capacity for hope and belief in the green light mirrors our national stick-to-it-iveness. For all of the collapses and failures, tragedies and melodramas, I feel better about things every time I finish reading The Great Gatsby.

It makes me think of the possibility of whether or not I could ever write anything so ennobling. Fitzgerald set the bar quite high for all of us authors. I believe that The Great Gatsby is the greatest American novel because it is the greatest account of what it means to live as a hopeful American. If any of us could ever write anything that inspires such hope, then it would be an accomplishment indeed. That is something I would like to read, maybe fifty times or more.

Agree or disagree, I would love to read your ideas. Let me know in the Comments section below, and thanks for reading!

Here are some more articles regarding The Great Gatsby you can find here on A Word Fitly Spoken:

14 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized