Writing is a funny thing, some days it’s really easy and words flow onto the keyboard almost without thought being needed – it can feel like almost a direct transfer of information from your brain and it all just sort of makes sense without really trying. Then on other days, just stringing a sentence together can feel like wading through treacle, and it’s all just so much effort that it hurts your brain, making you wonder if you should even bother writing in the first place. On these days whatever you write makes little or no sense and you end up deleting it anyway. Days like this are not good for self-esteem.
It’s felt a bit like the latter scenario for the past few weeks. Work has been so incredibly busy and I’ve not really had the mental space to do any writing. I’ve managed emails to friends just about, but even that took effort, particularly as I couldn’t say what I wanted to say anyway, the combination hurt my head and I’ve felt like writing wasn’t necessarily my thing. Fortunately I know that writing isn’t always easy, you need perseverance with that as much as with anything in life.
It’s been a lovely sunny day in the north, glorious for this time of year, and being by the coast is particularly lovely when there are views like this to be had.
I was out this afternoon with a friend (a guy, I might have mentioned him a few times, and no, it wasn’t a date, felt like it but it wasn’t, regardless of the presence of jet-propelled butterflies) and had a long walk this evening to counteract the adrenaline from this afternoon. The combination seems to have released whatever blockage that’s stopped me from writing recently.
I love writing, it gets all the rubbish out of my brain and organises it. I think a lot, about everything, and I’ve usually imagined all the various scenarios (possible and impossible), but there’s only so much you can think about before it all gets in a bit of a muddle. That’s where writing helps me, it sort of organises the muddle and helps me make sense of all the things I’m thinking, and creating stories helps me organise a lot of the things that I’ve been through – creating alternative endings so that I can process everything and logically process the negatives, as well as put it all in context. Plus the things that are happening now are not really straightforward and I think too much, without much information to go along with them, something is needed to help process things. There’s loads of documents on my PC and plenty in my diary, where I’ve sorted out all the thoughts and figured things out – and vented when I couldn’t vent in person!
As well as being therapeutic and cathartic, writing is a creating process, you get to create something that others will read, although they may or may not like what you write! You get to write things that can transport people to other worlds or places in time, you get to elicit emotions and trigger memories; good writing can make people laugh and cry in equal measure.
Reading what has been written can transport us to any place the writer decides. If that’s a diary, it takes you back to the point in time you wrote about the scenarios, or the point in time someone else wrote about their experiences, showing you their innermost thoughts and emotions about the things they experienced. If it’s a novel you’re reading, you could end up anywhere from a local bar to the other side of the world, or even outer space. Wherever the writer decides to take you. It’s a journey and an adventure to somewhere else, a temporary escape from the world around you. A good book can make you feel lost within its pages and you need time to re-orient when you emerge from its pages and the world you’ve been taken to.
Writing is a really powerful tool, it can transport you into the mind of another person; all the things I write are giving you access to a little part of my mind, a little part of my inner consciousness, things that I’m willing to share with you, be that the things I’ve been through, the things I’m thinking or feeling, or the worlds I create in my stories. Take the following extract for example:
“Meg found them in the kitchen an hour later, still giggling but now covered in flour. She watched them, mouth agape, and surveyed their flour-covered kitchen with dismay “What on earth happened in here you two?” she said, hoping it involved something naughty but suspecting not “Do we have anything to serve our customers Izzy dear?” Izzy started to speak, but caught Jack’s eye and dissolved into giggles again “I had a small disagreement with the bag of flour” Jack said, looking at Meg with a grin, “and for some reason Izzy isn’t used to catching flying bags of flour so she missed, and, well, yes…” Jack looked over at Izzy and started laughing again. Izzy was laughing so much she was having trouble speaking; she took some deep breaths and refused to look at Jack in case he set her off again, trying to gather herself together. “Hi Meg” she managed before catching Jack’s eye and dissolving into giggles again.”
(extract taken from Cupcakes and Lies: by me! Hopefully I’ll get it published at some point…)
This extract gives you an insight into the book and takes you to a place that’s not this computer screen, it takes you to a kitchen where two people (who may or may not be involved) are having fun and laughing. If I’ve done my writing job right, then you can imagine the laughter and have already painted a picture in your mind of what all the characters look like. Writing gives us words, and then it gives us the space to fill in the blanks the words don’t cover. Writing takes us to another place, and allows us to enter that place and fill it with our own thoughts and contributions to the place we’ve arrived at. This makes reading a uniquely individual experience. I know what the characters look like, I’ve described them elsewhere in the book, but without that information, your brain has filled in the gaps and created the scene in your head, and you’ll all have thought of a different set of physical characteristics.
Our brains abhor a vacuum, the absence of information is not an option for your brain. In ‘Ganzfield’ experiments, you have all sensory information removed (red light in the eyes and white noise in the ears, in a clean and empty environment where you can’t smell or touch anything) and then the things you see are then recorded. What you experience is hallucinations as your brain, in the absence of sensory information, creates something to process. Your brain is processing sensory information all the time, even when you’re asleep, so when it’s not there it’s a highly abnormal state and something the brain is not evolved to cope with. Hence hallucinations and interesting paranormal experiments.
So when a writer leaves out a bit of information, your brain fills in the blank with something that makes sense to you. Poetry always has partial information, and is interpreted in the context of the readers’ experience; psychological horror movies are typically far scarier than basic blood bath movies – for the simple reason that your brain can conjure scenarios that are far scarier to you personally than things the movie producers can deliver for you. The movie producers don’t know what scares you, they can only work in generics, your brain knows what scares you.
So I’m writing again, it’s been ages since I generated some writing and it’s nice that it seems to be all working again – which is good news as I need to do quite a bit next week! I don’t know why it seems to flow more now, maybe it’s the fact that my fingers were twitching all afternoon. It might be seeing someone I’ve missed, it might be the rest I’ve had from having a break from work, or it might just be the sunny and good day we’ve had today round here. Whatever the reason, I can construct sentences that make sense again, I can write words that sound halfway decent, words are flowing and it feels good to write again.
Something must have got into me…