Room to Dream

Written by Mark McElroy

Every book I read teaches me something; this one reminded me that memory is a tricky beast.

Room to Dream takes a unique approach to biography: each chapter written by a biographer (in this case, Kristine McKenna) is followed by a chapter written by the subject (in this case, director David Lynch). I confess that, about halfway through the book, I found myself skipping the McKenna chapters.

Every book I read teaches me something; this one reminded me that memory is a tricky beast. Friends and acquaintances of Lynch remember an event happening one way; Lynch will remember it di!erently. Lynch encounters a photograph documenting a high school kiss that he doesn’t remember … but another kiss, never photographed, proves more present, more durable, more meaningful.

Looking back at my own life, I wonder: how many of the scenes I turn over in my mind again and again — a fleeting kiss, an intimate late-night conversation with a friend, the loss of virginity, a date gone sour, a friend’s car accident, roads not taken — are more manufactured than remembered?

This was also the first book that pointed me to “the sequencing paradigm” — a screenwriting technique that builds a screenplay from scenes sketched out on seventy cards. I’d like to know more about it. (Conveniently, offered me the book today.)

Highlights and Quotes


  • “Give yourself permission to express yourself as freely and completely as possible, have faith that this is a worthy endeavor, and believe that you can do it.”
  • “You can live with yourself perfectly fine if you stay true to what you love.”


“People think anger is an edge, but anger is a weakness that poisons you and the environment around you. It’s not a healthy thing.”


“Failure is a beautiful thing, because when the dust settles there’s nowhere to go but up, and it’s a free You can’t lose more, but you can gain.”


“People don’t really have an age, because the self that we talk to doesn’t age — that self is ageless. The body gets old, but that’s all that changes.”

Featured image by Nong Vang on Unsplash

About the author

Mark McElroy

I'm a writer and professional facilitator. I'm the author of a dozen or so non-fiction books and hundreds of corporate video scripts. As a professional facilitator, I coach individuals, committees, and teams to change how they meet, make decisions, and plan, so they can get out of their own way and do work that really matters. I use this site to write about writing, adaptive strategy, travel, and spirituality ... and to "learn out loud" by sharing works (and what doesn't).