Fear in Writing: Exorcise your Dreams

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Exorcise your Dreams

My sister took the train to New York today. She wandered Fifth Avenue in typical dreamer fashion, taking in the festooned buildings and dramatic window displays. She probably drank a steaming latte at Bergdorf and tickled her senses in Macy's glittering perfumery.

I am intensely jealous. I hadn't planned to be married, living in a lower tier city with two kids and a freelance job at the age of 29. No ifs, ands or buts. I AM JEALOUS.

So my question to you is this: what do you do with your jealousies and fantasies? Do you write them into characters or scenes, or do you bury them so deep you can't even express them on paper?

For instance, if you have always wanted to travel to France, do you make a connection with your detective that forces him/her to follow a lead to Paris? Or do you set your entire plot on a vacation overseas, thereby living out your dream through your writing?

This is not to say you won't live your own dreams. I have been to New York plenty of times, even at Christmas time. I have seen many major cities and I have lived. But I make no apologies for my jealousies. I think we all have them, a sort of regret or desire of the path not taken.

Not as a way for me to exorcise my demons, but purely as a curiosity of what drives your fiction, do you exorcise your dreams and fantasies through your writing? If so, do you take it further than you would in real life, or do you keep it realistic?


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  2. Let's try this again! I *thought* I was awake, but...:)

    I don't have a problem with jealousy, actually...not something I usually feel.

    BUT...I'm horribly impatient and easily frustrated. I've made Myrtle Clover that way, too.


  3. You are a better woman than I. No surprise there. Interesting that you gave Myrtle some of your own traits, though. Did you do that consciously?

  4. I'd like to do a lot of things that I'm pretty sure I'll never have a chance to do. So, yes, I let my characters do them all the time. I get to live vicariously through them - lots of fun :)

  5. I don't travel as much as I'd like to but my travels get extended as I write my characters into the locations that I have most loved. Then I feel like I'm there longer. As to our passions, agressions and ignorance making it on to the page - well ya! That's what it's all about Alfie!

  6. Jemi- I should have asked for a confession of people's most wild dreams they made their characters live out. Now I'm curious!

    Jan- Just for the moment we live? (I had to look that up.)

  7. I've not had my characters live out any of my dreams, but I have explored some 'what ifs' - most notably what if I'd had children.

  8. I had something similar happen to me this morning! I found out a college friend of mine and her husband (no kids yet) are going to London and Paris for 8 days this Christmas..out of the blue. Jealous does not even cover it. But on the flip side I really enjoy where my life is at the moment and all the chaos that comes with it.

    As far as my writing goes - my little dreams and hopes always seem to sneaks into things. I love the mountains and the beach...so they always find themselves in whatever I write. And what fun would it be otherwise? I also find that I try to keep it slightly realistic or to what I know...my comfort zone. I would be terrified to write about Paris or London having never actually been there.

    Great post as always....

    Happy Thursday!

  9. I have a brother who works in the hospitality industry and--to my eyes, anyway--lives the high life with some pretty high rollers. I confess I'm occasionally jealous also.

    But yes, I've certainly explored fears, dreams and imaginings in my fiction. It's a way to explore the consequences of actions without actually getting anyone mad... :)

  10. I suppose merely by writing mystery fiction we are exploring a sort of fantasty. I HOPE we don't all harbor some secret desire to kill or maim or destroy civilization. But some form of punishment must exist in our psyche to enable us to write these tales, correct?

    Diane- I have yet to write a character truly living one of my dreams either. But I noticed I usually write from a male perspective, and they are usually single. Wonder what that says? I'm sure Freud would have a field day!

    Kristi- My best friend works for an organization that does international relief of a sort, but on a higher level, more logistical/economic planning sort of way. She is constantly traveling to Sierra Leone, Kazakhstan, Bali, Haiti, Serbia, Hungary, YouNameIt-stan...She has THE life. Maybe I should kill her off in a book? But she is also THE best friend a woman could ever have.
    (P.S. I'm tempted to write about those places so I HAVE to visit them! Tax write-off!)

    Simon- Writer's Digest had an article recently on writing without hurting your personal relationships. Maybe this would come in handy for us jealous types. :)

  11. Thanks for the link! I'll check that out post-haste. Not that I have a problem or anything. Nope. Never that. Uh-uh... :)

  12. I was actually going to blog about this soon. One of my H.S. frenemies popped up on my Facebook "You might know" list the other day, and it brought back a wave of emotions. All the jealousy. All the hurt. All the ick.

    But here's what I noticed about her picture...she looked sad. I never noticed it in H.S. because, well, I was a bit caught up in my own thing. But there was no hiding it in her 32 year old self...unhappy and bitter.

    I (perhaps subconsciously) modeled the antagonist in my WIP after her. I need to forgive her and move on. Hope my inspiration doesn't disappear with the jealousy! lol :)

  13. I have taken it much further, but I prefer to exercise my dreams, thoughts, and ideas through my writing.

  14. Myrtle is sort of an amalgam of several different people---but her worst traits are mine. I did write them consciously as hers, yes. At first it was an inside joke between my grandmother (who Myrtle is based on) and me--my grandmother knew, before her passing, that I would get annoyed when the mail didn't come on time, etc. I decided to poke fun at myself.


  15. I don't think it's a coincidence that my WIP takes place in England; a country where I've always wanted to live. My life has been somewhat of a surprise; never thought I'd end up where I am! Would I move to England? In a heartbeat. Just waiting for my kids to graduate...


  16. Simon- I hear you! :) Writers don't have issues!

    Karen- I've gone through a lot of that as well with the invention of facebook. For me it wasn't so much high school and what people did to me, as choices I made in college - a little too much fun and the people who reminded me of that time! Blog away! Hopefully these comments gave you more fodder.

    V.S.- Curious what you mean about taking it much further - in life or in writing?

    Elizabeth- Interesting. Makes your book even more interesting to me as well! Thanks for taking the time to come back and answer my question.

    Elspeth- I am soooooo excited to read your book upon completion! And I'm waiting for mine to graduate as well. Only problem is, they're only 4 and 20 months!

  17. I like to keep the writing realistic (write about what you know, etc.) and set stories in places I can easily access, or have been.

    We will be in New York on holiday in March for the first time. Looking forward to it...must take notes for a story...

  18. I confess, I skipped over the other comments, but ONLY because I'm pressed for time, and wanted to comment.

    Anyway, I hadn't really thought about it that way. I guess I do do that to my characters, but then again, I find myself to e quite lucky. I am (fortunately) very amicably divorced. I have the opportunity to drop off the kids at their mom's house whenever and take off. In return, she does the same, therefore letting us enjoy the best of both worlds.

    How is your novel coming along, btw?

  19. Alan- Welcome and, here's to realism! Makes for great crime, unfortunately. Enjoy New York! I love the place.

    Jm- You are very lucky. Two children AND an amicable divorce. My novel? I don't get much time on it. Blogging works in nicely in my life b/c my children are so young, so my attention has to be divided. But big chunks of time to write and really delve are just not there for me right now. I'm trying, I really am. I have a great series plan...And a few chapters hashed out...But time is the real factor. So it goes...THANK YOU for asking! Means a lot!

  20. Oh boy can I get jealous! Slimy green jealous! But thankfully as I've gotten older, I've learned to subdue it somewhat--it helps if you're actually happy for the other person, of course. But I must say that feeling such a powerful emotion has helped me in my writing. My characters are typically teenage girls, so it comes in handy to be familiar with jealousy ;)

    By the way, I'm super jealous of your sis, too :)

  21. Hmmm... I wouldn't mind ruling a world superpower like Hatshepsut did. Does that count? :)

    I do get jealous, but then I have to remember that I have an insanely wonderful life. That puts things into perspective.

  22. Carol- Glad to have you back and congratulations. Jealousy DEFINTELY helps with teenagers! I remember that stage well.

    Stephanie- Yes, that counts. :) But I have a fabulous life as well, and I am still prone to little jealousies! I am already over my sister's trip, but it was a great jumping off point for thought...and maybe characters!

  23. I need a routine instead of catching up a month at a time on here. Recently I've had some jealousy that has made me feel insane (but being unemployed for coming up on two weeks has left me nothing to do but job search and THINK and THINK about how jealous I am of the people who are hired into the numerous positions I've applied for). I guess at this point my jealous thoughts should be constructively put into New Years Resolutions since I don't have a character in a book to live out my fantasies.