Two Worlds



I don’t know what it’s like for the rest of you when writing on a new project, but for me it can be trying. During the height of my involvement, when I’m so wrapped up and agonizing over every single detail in an effort to spill my imagination onto the page and bring it to life, all the while making it as believable as possible, my mind tends to splinter. For that period of time I live in two worlds…the one my body exists in…and the one my mind gets sucked into.

I find myself constantly thinking about people who don’t really exist, but mean everything to me. I envision how they look, what they’re wearing that day, situations they might be forced to deal with, emotions tapped into by interactions with others…which surprisingly include people from my other world. Because I tend to use places and settings I’ve experienced first-hand, it takes no real effort for me to slide back and forth between my real-life world and my imaginary one. It’s not unusual for me to tell my wife that I feel like I’m forgetting something important or a task I was supposed to accomplish, only to remember that it wasn’t me…but one of my characters who was having a memory lapse.

I’m guessing this sort of behavior is normal for us writers, though I imagine it might be a tad easier for those who write Sci-Fi or Fantasy, given their two worlds are so dissimilar. That is unless the authors plot already involved two worlds (i.e. alternate reality), then they’d have three worlds to contend with. :)

It’s really during this stage of my writing that my other world is so dependent on me…and vice versa. The longer the break between writing sessions, the more I feel my other world begins to dwindle. Everything turns bleak…colors fade…shapes lose their definition…and the dialogue between characters loses its sense of spontaneity. I must plug in…like Neo jacking into the Matrix…if only for a small time to keep the world vibrant and alive. And when I’m in that world, I become a just a shadow in the other. Straddling both worlds’ leads to distraction and confusion, but living in one or the other is just as unsatisfactory.

But that’s our life as writers…right?  An inhabitant of two worlds, and where the question of which one is more real, is not always a simple answer.

7 comments

  1. I'm currently drafting, too, and I know EXACTLY what you mean. I think it's all about balance... it's important to spend some time in the Other World, and to do it regularly, for short periods of time every week (or every day if possible!). I also find that if I'm away from my books for too long, the worlds and the characters start to fade and it takes more for me to get back into it when I'm ready to pick up the threads.

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  2. Yes yes and yes, DL. I think that's why I'm an introvert. It's so hard to engage in the real world sometimes.

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  3. Normal for all of us, no matter what genre! I have one foot in RL and the other in my Cherry Hill, GA. ;-)

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  4. You hit the nail on the head with this
    "The longer the break between writing sessions, the more I feel my other world begins to dwindle."
    I write in fantastical worlds with magic and monsters, but my characters have to be just as real as people I come in contact with every day. It's easier to stay passionate about that world when I spend time there every day, even if it's only a few minutes.

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  5. Isaac Asimov used to kiss the walls and floor of his precious "room" whenever he got away from the wife - who was always trying to drag him away from the typewriter, LOL. I enjoyed reading your story and I know what you mean. We all have an Achilles heel! Thanks for sending everyone to my corner of the universe. High fives DL.

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  6. Agreed! I've done the same thing where I've thought I needed to do something but it was my character - such a bizarre feeling - at least the first time it happens :)

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  7. That is frighteningly true. I think it's also why writers are encouraged to take a month off between finishing a novel and editing it. Things that seem obvious to you while you're living in that written world suddenly get plot holes when you come back from your vacation. (Was that castle purple or green? Did the attack happen before or after the fishing tournament? How would any readers know about the meteor shower since I didn't write it!?!)

    The two worlds are wonderful though. And when we publish, we let others come play in the new world we created. That's a very spiritual experience for me.

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