Hello all, I was wondering if I am alone in this.  I'm writing book two, "Ghosts of the Past" as a murder mystery.  Book one was very much a character-driven political adventure romance exploring gender politics in a feudal society in another galaxy.

But book two (perhaps not unlike George Lucas's Empire Strikes Back) is much darker.  I'm finding it difficult to sleep.  I have to kill off several characters and constantly write all this mysterious stuff.  I'm finding it messes with my mind.

I don't know if this is just because I'm a survivor of some pretty heinous violence and the work is just stimulating repressed memories -- or if it's the genre itself that messes with the author's mind.

I know it's natural to at least unconsciously draw upon your life experience, but I was really hoping it would not play with my head like this!  

Why are my villains scaring me?

Do you think as a writer this is good or bad?

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Personally I think it is a good thing, it means your totally into your writing. 

When writing my first novel, "Pearly Flats." It's about an organization put together to curb excessive greed and other wrongs in the world.

I had a nightmare where I was in trouble and Pearly Flats was not coming to my aid. I screamed until I woke myself up only to remember there was no Pearly Flats, it was a figment of my imagination.

One evening, wide awake, I was watching the news. A large group of people were be decimated by a more violent group of people. I thought to myself that they would get their's as soon a Pearly Flats catches up to them. Then I realized with horror, there is no Pearly Flats.

chuck 

I have often had dreams about stories or characters.  I always found it to be more like watching a TV show or movie.

I would personally take it as a good sign and see what your brain is trying to tell you about the story. 

Shouldn't our villains scare us? If they are not scary then they might be wimpy villains.

I find it a great deal the way you described it... like watching a movie. I just write down all the things I see and hear and live in that moment as best I can.

As a writer, I can tell you that sometimes we need to "heal" areas of our own life before we can deal with our imagination in a healthy manner. Our creations shouldn't give us nightmares as this is a sign that we have not established proper boundaries. I had to get "help"before I could properly tap into the scared connection that storytellers have and it sounds to me that you may consider doing the same.

The purpose of psychotherapy is really to help you function in your day to day life when you find that you cannot.  It's not intended to be long term.  if it is, it is clearly NOT working.

I'm not just saying that to say that.  I have my education first in psychology -- before I pursued my passions in writing and history.  I can go on and on about Freud (which I spent a month reading in class), Adler, Dr. Thomas Szasz (easily the most influential theorist I studied.  Szasz explored the role of social labeling in our concepts of mental "health" and "illness"), Maslow, and so forth.

There is an enormous difference between our conscious functioning in our everyday life (which is what therapy is focused on and therapists are trained to help with -- speaking as someone with the fundamentals of that training) verses our unconscious memory.  Dreams tap into our unconscious, which is why Freud and Jung were so focused on them.  In the psychoanalytic school founded by Freud, dreams and the unconscious are more important that our waking, conscious state.

In terms of living your life...I have to disagree with that.

But one thing I will say about the unconscious:  it never forgets!  Even with complete amnesia (my memory was wiped for seven years by traumatic brain injury in a car accident), you still remember on the unconscious level.  Our dreams often reflect what our working mind has forgotten or decides to repress for its own protection.

Again, this is normal -- it doesn't require "healing," a word that implies malfunction.   It's there to promote our growth and functioning.  It guides our conscience.

Perhaps the real meaning of nightmares involving my characters is that I find what my villains do to be truly morally deplorable (like bombing hospitals!).  I have a moral problem with killing.  So it bothers me, has to, to write scene after scene where people are getting killed!

This is HEALTHY.

But it still doesn't make it any easier as a writer!

I also think this will make more sense when I finish "Ghosts of the Past" (it's almost 50,000 words now) and finally publish it!

Hi Laurel, yes I have nightmares. I am now writing my second book and this one is about my abuse and boy is it bringing back memories that I did not want. I'm handling it as best I can and luckily I have a great husband who wakes me up and holds me when I scream in my sleep.

Is it worth it? I'm not sure at this time. I am hoping that when it is finished that somehow I will be able to help someone who is in an abusive relationship and if I help one person then it will be worth it to me.

Good luck with yours and hopefully we'll both get through it.

Rebecca Myers, author My Journey To Heaven And Back

The plot of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde came to Robert Louis Stevenson in a dream, so you're in good company.

Yes, this happens. In fact, most of my ideas are derived from nightmares. Unlike most writers, I'm not "inspired" by anything. The stories are given to me by my subconscious. 

I had another "Ghosts of the Past" nightmare this morning.  Only coming out of it, the "nightmare" showed me how to re-work my last scene and what I need to do in the next one (discuss the complacency created in our world's "new normal").  So while the dream was disturbing...I think at least this morning's dream is helpful!

Rebecca: I'm also a Survivor, but I don't dream about what happened to me.  I'm far enough in my healing process that I don't dream about it.  The main impact (besides the residual physical damage that will not heal further) seems to really be in the development of my villains.  I'm told by some readers that the "best" part of book one, Great Succession Crisis (released in August, 2012) is actually the villain and the mystery in the book building up to revelation of my villain.

so a "negative" transformed into a positive in my writing.

Laurel Rockefellow I am so glad you are a survivor. I did not dream about it until I started writing about it then the dreams came back, but I am blessed to have a man that holds me and says it's okay, you're safe and that's exactly what I need to hear is that I am safe. I have not been able to write it in fiction form I believe that would be much better than non-fiction. It really has surprised me to see how many people have been abused in their lifetime. I believe if you walk on this earth and have not been abused your are a minority. Good luck with all your endeavors.

Rebecca...I have a guidance cd out.. Walk With Me...:: there is a track on abuse...I would be honored if you would listen to it.. it is on my site  free of charge just ..click and listen.. it may help?  ... I also have a healing on the site..  just click the    healing link..

... and you are ok and never alone : )

my cd Walk With Me.... helps with many horrific moments in life..    I have a few links on my site  www.mitchbensel.com   ... one on abuse       one  is a healing    I am a healer      ... give it a shot.. it is free.. just click and listen

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