VQ: Do you remember having vivid dreams as a child?
AG: Yes, all the time. I had a recurring one where I was swallowed by a giant
black cat. It would just materialize out of nowhere and I'd be drawn into and
engulfed by this enormous black mouth. In another dream all my playmates shrank
into Lilliputian like figures and ran away all babbling in high pitched voices.
Usually when the dreams became too unpleasant I would become aware that I was
dreaming and I had a technique where I would shut my eyes tight to wake myself
up. Sometimes it would take a couple of shots but I could always do it.
Occasionally I would be in a normal dream and become aware that I was dreaming
and try to consciously direct it but this usually just ended by waking myself
up. I had two particularly vivid dreams: one where I and my two sisters are left
alone in a car and the car starts up and starts driving round and round an oval.
Another where I and my sisters hitch a ride on the back of a garbage truck up to
this tiny little shoe store and the owner pulls a gun on us. To this day one of
my sisters claims to have had exactly the same dreams, whereas I am positive
that I had them. We still can't agree on this.
VQ: Do you feel that you do utilize your dreams in your writing and teaching?
AG: Dreams have been very important to me as a writer. In fact before I began
writing formal short stories by simply recording my dreams in an exercise book.
I did this for a long time before I tried to create my own. It has always
fascinated me that the dreaming brain can just come up with all these amazing
situations and scenarios so effortlessly, whereas when I consciously try to
write a story it's much harder. I love the unpredictability of dreams, dream
logic, dream humour, transitions from one piece of action to another and it's
certainly an effect I strive for in my stories. I have always been inspired by
Alice in Wonderland and the stories of Franz Kafka--the dreamlike state they
evoke seems much more real to me and closer to how we really experience the
world than attempts to portray the world in an 'natural' linear fashion. I think
our waking state is much closer to a dream state than we realize. I read
recently a quote on writing by on Jon Luis Borges which I can't quite remember
but went something like, 'A story is nothing more than a guided dream in the
reader's mind.' You can take people on little rides and go anywhere you like.
I've also been reading a version of this idea in a book called 'You'll see it
when you believe it' by Wayne Dyer who goes further and suggests that the whole
of our waking life is actually a dream created by us--we consciously or
unconsciously create the situations in which we find ourselves--we attract
certain people and ideas into our lives according to our ideas about ourselves.
Whether you believe this literally doesn't matter--it's still a very powerful
metaphor that makes us aware of how the thoughts in our brains affect the world
outside us and how that in turn influences our thoughts. The more I write
stories the more interested I become aware of my ability to write my own life.
To find out about Andy's work go to http://www.andygriffiths.com.au
The new book is called JUST STUPID and follows on from JUST TRICKING and JUST