I had the pleasure of attending The Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival 2015 recently, where I met fellow authors Lisa Heathfield (SEED) and Jon Walter (Close to the Wind & My Name’s not Friday).
(Me with the lovely Lisa Heathfield)
After our events finished, we had an opportunity chat in the green room and consume a few lovely pastries (well, I certainly did – oops!). Whilst talking about the usual authory things, the subject of school visits came up - and what was the best question we had been asked by the students .
On this occasion Jon won hands down.
For Jon was once asked, by some young bright spark – “What does the inside of your head look like when you’re writing?”
What a wonderful question! And it really got us thinking.
Jon said that after careful consideration, he felt his was like a cinema reel, playing a film version of his book on continuous loop. Lisa joked that hers was probably totally blank initially, and then a swirl of colours. And as for me, I couldn't answer straight away.
But the question stayed with me.
What did the inside of my head look like when I was writing?
To be frank, mine is probably not a place you’d like to go! It starts off quite bleak and confused, full of jumbled images and words. I picture it a bit like a snow globe that has just been shaken: there is a central idea somewhere between the snowflakes, but it is disguised at first.
Once the snow begins to settle I can see a little clearer. Depending on the book, it might be the character or the setting I can see. For my current book it is the character; she is there, waiting for me, sitting in my mind waiting to be written. But if I get distracted or despondent it is like the snowglobe has been shaken again - the view becomes blurry and I might lose my way. And once the snow has settled I often see a new scene, or a better way of doing things.
So I guess the inside of my head while writing is a changeable, exciting but very frustrating place. I’m not sure I’d like to exist within it - but I’m thankful for it.
So I guess the question is - what does the inside of your head look like when writing?