Revising Leah

July 11, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 6:10 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

One of the great mysteries of my own creative process is the almost complete absence of my characters from my dreams. When I’m in the middle of a writing project, I tend to obsess over the story and the characters, I spend a lot of my free time during the day playing out scenes and dialogue in my head and imagining my characters in all sorts of situations. I can see many of the characters, especially the main characters, quite vividly in my imagination, so one would think that when I close my eyes at night my characters would feature prominently in my dreams as well. They don’t. I have had a few dreams over the years in which my characters (or representations of my characters) appear, but such dreams are very, very rare.

More often (and this is what I find really interesting), when I do dream about my stories, I dream about the books themselves. For example, a few months ago, I had a very vivid dream in which I had in my possession a graphic novel version of The Spring. The whole story was there, but in comic book form. It was really cool, and I remember the dream because when I awoke, I was profoundly disappointed that it was only a dream and that a graphic novel version of my story didn’t really exist. (If I had any drawing talent at all, I’d probably make one myself.)

I really wish that I could dream about my characters more. Even though I can experience them in my imagination or when I read from one of my stories, dreaming about my characters would be so much more exciting because then they would be fully under the influence of my subconscious mind, which means they might do or say things that could be quite unexpected, perhaps even offering me new insights into who they are.



  1. I believe that our sleep state is where we process that which we compile during our waking hours. When I dream it is usually a process of sorting out decisions yet they take on a different meaning than the one dreamed.

    I will share with you that as I write, my characters are at times standing behind me telling me to do this or say that; I can feel their presence. There have been times when I say aloud, “please let me do this myself”! Like you say, obsessed… I enjoy your writing so much and sometimes I am compelled to make a comment, I admire your commitment.

    Comment by cedarstreetwriter — July 15, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  2. Thank you for your kind words.

    I’ve heard other writers describe their relationship with their characters in the way that you describe–as a kind of partnership or collaboration between writer and character. For me, I imagine my stories more . . . “cinematically.” It’s like I’m watching a TV show or a movie–the characters exist in their own world separate from mine. As an author or narrator, I’m more of an invisible force or presence in their existence that they are completely unaware of–like an historian, perhaps, who is simply recording what happened.

    And maybe that’s why I rarely dream about my characters. Most of the time when I dream, I dream in the first person, but since I’m not a character in my stories there isn’t any kind of first person engagement that can manifest itself in my dreams.

    Comment by jmreep — July 16, 2008 @ 5:26 pm

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