How I write novels #6: In Dreams
Monday, 3 August 2015
Writing fiction is a kind of dreaming. I know writers talk about it all the time. They talk about flow. Inspiration. Losing yourself. But it's true. When I write I'm not all there. I'm in the other place, like opening your eyes under the surface of the swimming pool (no goggles). Writing is a kind of dreaming. Submergence. A relinquishment of self, or rather a division. Like a lot of modern writers I tell stories through free indirect discourse, a kind of third person narration characterized by elements of first-person direct speech. It's a mode of storytelling that allows you to drift in and out of the consciousness of multiple characters while also retaining a degree of objective authorial control. But it’s also about loss of control. Loss.
Once in a while I’ll be gifted an idea in dreams. I’ll wake up with something, a treasure, a rough diamond, opaque when held to the early light but becoming clearer as time passes. Since my mum died two years ago these treasures have surfaced more and more. A kind of creative gold rush. It’s hard for me to explain why, or rather I don’t think it’s material for this blog. But it’s not just at night this happens. As time goes by, as I write more fiction, I’ve become a better treasure hunter. I see and hear things in my waking life. These glimmers in the backwash. That’s what being a writer is. I open my eyes every morning and I’m still underwater. Submerged. Not altogether there. Still holding my breath and diving for diamonds.
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