where the writers are
The need for madness


I've just come back from another few days in Wales, and I'll tell you something: I can really write there! Peace and quiet, all the pressures of the normal routine removed, and the mobile internet so slow that I never stay online for longer than I have to. I sat down the first morning to a story I'd been getting into only slowly, and somehow, pow, those synapses started sparking, and by 5.30 I had finished the whole thing. Then another day I took up a story I've been trying to write for a couple of years now and which just somehow hasn't gelled (like an idiot I've sent it out a few times, but I've known really all along that it just hasn't hit the mark) and all of a sudden the real voice of the story came to me, as if out of the ash trees outside the window, and I re-wrote the story from scratch and it was done by 11.30.

It set me thinking. That idea of the synapses sparking really does feel to me to have something to do with it. Not so long ago, if I'm remembering rightly, there was yet another study proving that artistic activity was somehow linked to 'madness', most specifically to schizophrenia, that there are certain ways of thinking that are linked to both, a facility for making unusual connections. And connections were indeed the things that were coming to me, and which had previously been eluding me, and most importantly, they were coming to me in a non-conscious way. I'm so often complaining about needing a different 'head' for writing, the fact that writing needs a more dream-like state than most other activities. It struck me forcibly last week that a rational state of mind can be the enemy of the creative writer, and that that's what had been wrong with that story: every time previously I had tackled it I had been in too rational a state of mind. And then those hills of Wales set me dreaming again...

Well, then I came back in order to go last night to the Edge Hill Award ceremony, won by SF writer Chris Beckett, and which I report on here, and to which, believe it or not, I forgot to take my camera!!! (See where dreaming gets you?) And after which I have a mild hangover today, unused to booze as I am recently.

So it's back to busy-ness. On Wednesday evening I'm reading for the Oxfam Book Fest at the Didsbury shop, one of a series of events for the next fortnight. Tomorrow night it's Adele Geras, and Tuesday night Nick Royle and Thomas Fletcher. (And of course I love social events, and I love reading myself...)

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madness and creativity

Indeed, a touch of madness does get those creative synapses firing!