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.