Lots of writers have posted here about why they write, and I always say this is something I don’t want to think about. I always feel a little anxious that I would sit down, mull it over, realise there’s some easy-to-solve problem with my psyche, and cure myself of the need to keep writing it all down by simply buying a Paul Mckenna CD.
So this isn’t about why I write. It’s about what happens when I don’t write.
This Christmas was a special occasion for a slightly different reason. My Hubby had been working abroad, and he returned with a long holiday to take, so I decided to avoid all pens and paper, and concentrate solely on him for a while. I don’t write every day as a rule, but I do seven dedicated hours a week, so this was a real departure from my usual routine. I was quite interested to see what would come of this experiment of attempting to be a bit more normal.
The first week was a lot of fun. We played the Wii a lot. We dug out Scrabble and I let him win a few times. We entertained our baby Munchie and all had fun painting butterflies on scrap paper.
It was in week two that the problems started.
I got grumpy. I will admit I’m not always a ball of glowing happy sweetness, but this was beyond my normal tetchiness. I started to snap at Hubby and Munchie. I collected pens into bundles around the house and idly doodled on cheque books and toilet paper. Munchie’s chalkboard got covered in a morose off-the-cuff poem (you should avoid my poetry in all circumstances unless you happen to be a bit of a Vogon too) and the shopping list ended up in a diatribe about sprouts.
Then things got really bad. I may have stopped writing, but I couldn’t stop myself thinking about the book I’m working on at the moment. So I began to tune real life out. I didn’t hear anything that was said to me. I blanked people in the street. I let the answer phone take all my calls. After the fifteenth time of commenting on this, Hubby gave up and began a meaningful relationship with the Wii instead – at least that responded to his movements. I realised I was writing again, only this time I was writing in my head. There was no delineation between my characters and myself any more, because there was no allotted time to be them, and no allotted time to be separate from them.
I gave up and picked up the pen again, and thankfully became all too solid flesh once more. So that’s why I write – I’m only getting out the stuff I’d be thinking about all the bleeding time anyway. As long as I write, I’m insane for seven hours a week rather than all the time. And that has to be a plus, doesn’t it?