Saturday, 6 December 2014

I like to find myself deep within a story

People often talk about the immersive effect of stories on readers. How once you've been captured by the magic of a story, it takes you to a different place, as if you're actually there.

It's absolutely true, and as someone who has always been a passionate book person, it's always been one of my very favourite things about reading.

It's interesting though that not much seems to be said about the immersive effect of a story on a writer.

When you think about it, it makes sense to consider that we writers tend to get far more immersed in our stories than any readers. After all, we spend more time engaging with them. As a reader I might spend a few weeks, maybe a month or two at most on a particular story. But as a writer, I might spend years working on a story from start to finish.

Remember that the work of creating a story doesn't just involve the time spent at a computer writing the actual words. Before I actually sit down to put the words onto a page, I've often already done quite a bit of pre-planning - developing plots or characters or themes in my head, or mapping out the structure. There have been times when I've literally had a story in my mind for years before I get started on the actual writing.

I love how immersed I get while I'm writing a story. I love getting to know the places and the people, and feeling like I'm a part of the action that's occurring. But it isn't just a one-time event. The way I write a story, I'll often put it away for a while between edits, sometimes for over a year. Then, when I come back to it, I find myself totally re-immersed, back in a world of my own creation. Sometimes I'm working on more than one story concurrently, and I find myself being immersed in multiple worlds simultaneously.

It's always a bit of a sad feeling when the book is finally out. Sure I can go back and read it again, but it's never quite the same level of immersion as when you're actually creating the story and wrestling with the ways to make it right. I guess that's the time to hand it over to the wider world, and let all the other people out there immerse themselves in their own way.

In the meantime, I'll just have to find another world to immerse myself in.

1 comment:

  1. I doubt most non-writers will’ve much of a clue how much a book can become part of an author’s life. If you’re like me then you probably think of nothing much else and even when you’re working (or supposed to be working) on other stuff you keep finding your mind wandering. It’s actually quite horrible in its way and, yes, finally deciding your finished is hard because Christ knows if you’ll EVER write another one. At least that’s how I feel; every book feels like my last one. Why would I want to put myself through all of this again—and with me it is years—and yet, I’m pretty much lost when not writing. Blogs and stuff are a stopgap but that’s not real writing; it just takes the ache away a bit. If the bug bit me tomorrow I’d happily drop everything else and get started on the next one even knowing how miserable it’ll make me especially around the middle when I start to lose confidence and don’t know where I’m going and wish I’d never started the damn thing in the first place. But, like a woman once she’s given birth, once the book’s done I pretty much forget how hard it all was which I guess we really need to to be able to do it, well, in my case seven times now.