Sitting on a train the other day I looked up, struggling to climb out of the enthralling world of the book I was enjoying, I realised that there were several other people equally engrossed in their books. It made me wonder where they were in their heads, what delights or terrors were they experiencing through the characters and what other worlds, places or environments they were experiencing as they read. Having been so immersed in another world myself, I found I was reluctant to let go of it (for the mundane necessity of finding my ticket for inspection).
I had a momentary image of all those different scenes being played out in glorious technicolour above my fellow passengers, like several films running at once, portals to other worlds.
When writing I have something like that running in my brain while the words appear on the page (or screen).I find that when I lose those mental images the result is a piece of writing that lacks conviction and is ultimately boring both to myself and possibly to the reader, too. If it doesn't excite me why would it grab the reader at all.
I remember one instance when I was writing late into the night and realised that I really did need to stop and go to bed, despite being still engrossed in the story with much more to tell. My characters were in a fairly desperate situation but my eyes were closing and my fingers making a mess of words on the keyboard. Despite being exhausted when I got to bed I picked up the book I had been reading the night before As it turns out the same genre (fantasy) as the one I had been writing. I opened it where I had left a marker and started to read.
After a paragraph or two I looked at the cover to make sure this was the book I had been reading previously because something wasn't right, it wasn't the story I was expecting. But, yes, it was definitely the same book I'd been reading. For a moment I was puzzled and then it dawned on me.
The story I had been expecting to read was not the book I had in my hands it was the story I had just been writing. I realised that I had been so engrossed with the images reeling through my tired brain that when I picked up my book I'd expected the story to continue on from where I had stopped writing. I exected to discover what was going to happen to my characters next. A very strange sensation.
It made me think about the wonderful thing it is to read a book to lose yourself completely within it, and what a privilege it is to be a writer. Despite the difficult times it is a wonderful job!