When my daughter came home for lunch today, I was in the year 1910. In Ireland. Needless to say, I had a hard time having a rational conversation. She thinks I drink during the day, I know she does. No, I’m just a writer.
Sometimes I get so deep in a story – it could be in a time and place completely foreign to the year 2011, Toronto – it’s very hard to snap myself back into the present to deal with my “real” life. During a normal weekday, I could travel from Vermont to Scotland to London to the flanks of Vesuvius or down the street, depending on what I’m working on. My mind refuses to stay in one spot. I’m a wanderer, a gypsy, who sits down every morning and allows my mind to run wild – wherever it will. What never changes is, at roughly 3:30 every afternoon, I have to return to the present; to my kitchen, to greet the hordes returning from school.
This transition is never easy. Sometimes, I write until the back door crashes open, getting the bejesus scared out of me. Other days, I’m smarter, getting up from my chair at around 3 or 3:15 to let the story ebb away like a falling tide. The latter method is a lot less jarring but it also means my day has not been as productive as I’d like. There hasn’t been the complete immersion that is so sweet and so all-encompassing. It’s the feeling that I’m swimming in a story that makes the writing so satisfying. Then a small face appears at my side. The face is speaking to me. It’s asking for food/drink/homework help/something not related to anything I’m working on…I blink stupidly as if long in the dark and suddenly exposed to blinding light.
When I’m really deep in a story, I disconnect from the whirl of life around me. I am here but not here. I will not be “here” until the story is down, the problem solved. Questions have to be repeated; answers are terse. My temper is short – especially if I’ve been jarred out of my make-believe world suddenly or unexpectedly. Worst is when I’m far away from my computer. Writers can be grumpy creatures indeed.
I’ve said it before that I dream of having an idyllic, secluded space to write in for as long as needed. Sadly, life intervenes, as it has to. Otherwise, I might become a hollow wraith floating around the planet – disconnected from the real world. The real world offers a wealth of material – I just have to remember to tune in and feel it. The real world keeps my feet on the ground, warms my heart, and gives me sweet Goldfish flavoured kisses at 3:45 every afternoon. 1910 Ireland can wait until tomorrow…