Seeing Dreamscapes - Writing in the Loose Tradition of Lovecraft's Dreamlands

Hello All.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, whether that be something your friend offhandedly mentions, or an article in the newspaper. The most powerful of any inspiration, I think, is that of dreams. It is a thing which everyone has experienced and everyone can relate to; something we all want to understand or at least try to.

          It is that need to understand such an ephemeral and intangible thing as dreaming that has perhaps caused so many artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers to create things based on or inspired by their dreams.

          It is also that sense of the unknown and unknowable that makes the idea of dreams a very interesting and useful setting for horror. For what is Cthulhu if not a nightmare creature? After all the strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the strongest fear is the fear of the unknown and again, what is more unknown than the realm of dreams?

           While this theme of dreams (excuse the rhyme) is a popular and at times ever present one in narrative and even non-narrative fiction---poetry, painting etc---I, being a writer, tend to focus on those of that field. And to me there is no finer example of both weird-fiction and the theme of dreams and illusions than those honorable works by Lord Dunsany and H. P. Lovecraft.

A map of the Dreamlands

Lovecraft's dreamlands, most notably explored explored in his novella The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath---which is where the majority of this map is derived from---is a grand, sprawling, unknowable landscape where anything and everything can happen. Where gods dance atop a mountain and cats run in the sky towards the moon.

           Where mankind can both exist not exist. A place where all conscious thought and both have a place and never really existed in the first place. It is a triumph of the imagination, and in my opinion where most of his best work takes place.

           The stories set here are as weird, hallucinatory and lovingly confusing as dreams themselves. The language he uses to describe these places is so languid, so tangible I could believe he was recounting his own experiences.

            It was these stories that made me take real notice of my dreams and how they felt and looked like. And, to be honest, his dreamworld is very similar  to my own. It is that fact that drew me to write my own dream-based horror and fantasy stories and, in the process, create my own tangled web of mythology, deities and monsters that keep popping up in my stories even if I don't want them to.

           So far there have been at least seven stories I've written which take place in this dreamworld and many others that have to do with it or make reference to it. The prose-poem Where Misty Towers Haunt in case you didn't guess, was one such story. I find it very difficult to write in this style. Very fun, but very difficult.

            The best way to think of it is like Goldy Locks. Not too weird and not too off-putting. It all has to be just right.

           You have to present an and alien world in a way that is both interesting and not off-putting. You have to try and confuse people make them You also have to think of odd and interesting things to inhabit this world and use languid, beautiful language and prose to complement the languid and beautiful world. Or, at least it should be a beautiful world. This is a dreamworld after all, there is unimaginable beauty in dreams just like there are horrible nightmares. Though I think that the latter are a bit more fun to be honest.

            With nightmares you can go as bat-shit crazy as a dead janitor's ghost with a claw hand coming to kill teenagers for reasons that don't exactly pan out and most people will accept and be scared by it. You can have ridiculous things like clowns, rabbits, pigeons and flies become blood thirsty monsters. You can even have inanimate objects spring to life with no explanation at all. You can be Wes Craven or John Romero for a while and that's just great.

             We're all dreamers, we're all walkers among the silent halls of nightmare and each and every one of us can find some inspiration, some fear and some adventure in the machinations of our own terrified and confused little minds. So, go with your dreams, no matter how odd or terrifying they may be. Because no matter what they are, you can bet that it'll be interesting.

Till next I may hold you.


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