December 14, 2010

Anyone else find they have the same motifs running through their lives and writing? It seems to me like my mind likes to revisit the same patterns and images over and over… sure, they’re disguised and masked, but the underlying theme is the same. Alternatively, the imagery remains much the same, but I have no idea what it means.

This happens to me most often in dreams. I know, I know, dreams are a funny thing… we all love to speculate on our own, but other people’s generally don’t hold that much interest. Bear with me.

For me, it’s ice. Ice, snow, tundras, you name it. The internet dream dictionary I consulted explained that these might symbolize paralysis, or unexpressed emotions. Or purity/fresh beginnings. They threw that in as another perspective, I guess.

And I guess that could be true. Maybe. Although I don’t really trust dream dictionaries- collective unconscious and archetypes aside, I think that our sleeping brains are too unqiue, and full of too many idiosyncracies, to be able to assign meanings to things so easily.

To me, the interesting thing is the strangle-hold the brain has on certain things. Memories can live submerged for years and rise from the depths as strong as the day they were formed. I suppose I’m thinking about this because the other day I kept “hearing” a character in my head. A new character, one that I’m letting sit on the backburner for a while as I get to know him. But he was so familiar, and I couldn’t figure out why.

Then I remembered.

He’d been a character in a dream I had a loooong time ago (I don’t know about you, but my dreams tend to have plots, characters, and themes. No wonder I’m an insomniac). It was probably nine or ten years now, but suddenly this face welled up in my mind’s eye, and all I could think was, “I’ve seen you!”

Just like its fascination with ice, my subconscious, or muse, or whatever, has circled back to the same pattern, and seems to be stuck on it. Apparently, some things require years for the mind to work through. Maybe that’s why you sometimes see the same theme or motifs crop up in several of an author’s books.

I’m itching to write again. Perhaps this is my brain’s way of confirming that impulse. In the only way it knows how, it’s saying, “Get a move on!”

All right. Message received!




  1. Good post. My motif has always been the mountains. Forest, river, rock. I find if I try to write stories set in other areas, the words don’t flow. As soon as I go home to the wilderness, the stories immediately start growing in that fertile soil. I think the motif is something that makes our souls ache, a place that feels like home. And I think the tundra may represent to you what the forest wilderness does to me: a place of challenge, a place of survival, a place where all the noise of normal life must disappear in order to survive. And a place where you can’t hide from yourself. In other words, the perfect place to write.

    • Interesting. I quite like that perspective. I’d always considered the sea to be the place where I’m most comfortable… but perhaps comfort isn’t always what your psyche craves. I can definitely see motifs as being something unresolved (hence their tendency to stick with you) and something that you need in order to grow beyond your comfort zone.

  2. […] think I’ve finally found the story that fits all those images of ice and snow my subconscious keeps throwing at me. Needless to say, I am very excited, and frankly, this clears up a lot of plot issues I’d […]

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