I am usually able to put aside a couple of hours to write each day, but this week a family emergency put everything on hold, including writing.
Some people write to escape whatever demons are chasing them, but apparently I don’t. I just couldn’t sit down and concentrate on the story while my real life drama unfolded around me. I need a clear head before I fill it full of imaginary life-and-death situations, any distractions render me useless.
I could read and in fact I devoured two books (a paranormal romance and a supernatural thriller). The escapism was welcome which made me wonder about my motives for writing. I thought I wrote to escape, and believe me, I do sometimes need to bury myself in the zone (usually when the kids have been driving me bonkers all day) but that doesn’t always seem to be the case. It’s more complex than that.
I need to concentrate on the story and its characters. It’s not just a ride which I can hop on and off as I please, there’s a lot more to it than that. The setting, the people, the conflict, the drama, it all takes time and effort to craft. It’s not a simple case of just ‘writing a book’ (as many who ask me ‘have you written it yet?’ seem to think). It’s about applying layer after layer of complexity to a point where the reader doesn’t actively notice the little details any more (if I’ve done it correctly!). This subtlety takes concentration and many hours of deliberation.
That’s why I couldn’t write. I couldn’t face the hard work, despite the lure of the escapism, because my mind was elsewhere. Reading, yes. I could sit back and let the book take me to another place, but writing when my real life was filled with enough drama, I just couldn’t face it.
Needless to say, all is well and life has returned to normal. I’m back in the saddle as though nothing ever happened.
So I was wrong. I don’t write to escape. I write because I can’t say no to an adventure. Being a mum of two pre-schoolers it can be tricky finding the time to save the world from a vampire apocalypse, but writing gives me the opportunity to explore other lives, to ‘walk in another persons shoes’ .
It’s not escapism, it’s curiosity.