The Creation of a New World (to Everyone who Does It)

It’s winter, traditionally a time for hunkering down and getting involved in a new world. I usually start a new book around October, so by now, most of the planning and some of the research should be done and I’m starting to hear the characters’ voices. It’s time to begin.

It’s never easy to begin though. That scary white page, that blank screen… There are so many possibilities and it seems so important to get it right. It isn’t though. The important thing is to start – and then once it’s on the page you can fix it (thanks to Ian Rankin for that quote).

Many writers say they’re finding it hard to write during this global pandemic – understandable; so many of us are suffering from anxiety and many more have loved ones who have been ill or even lost to the disease; how can we hope to focus on anything else while all this is going on?

We are though in a privileged position. Not only can we escape to another world through reading, which isn’t just a distraction nor just a pleasure; to many of us it’s a lifeline. But as authors, we can also take time out from these challenging days to create our own world. We can create our own characters (who may or may not be in difficult or traumatic situations – that’s our choice) and we can create their setting, their backgrounds, their problems and their joys.

Writing… It’s fun, it’s a distraction, it’s a way of being emotionally invested in something you can totally control. How good is that? Forget those well-worn clichés about authors not being in control of their own novels, of characters who ‘leap’ off the page and dictate the action. What were you – an empty vessel? Nah – as the author, you can make this happen or you can stop it from happening; the choice is yours.

Because when your characters seem to leap off the page – it’s because you made them so lifelike in the first place that they had the ability to jump. Yes, you did that. You created three-dimensional, interesting people with real issues that readers could become emotionally invested in. And if those characters seem to direct the action – it’s because you got them right in the first place.

That wonderful feeling, when as an author you are in the zone, your pen (or fingers) are flying, your inner censor is strangely silent, your authorly anxieties have gone to sit in another room… That’s not your story or your characters taking over, that is you letting go, allowing your imagination and creativity to run free, that is you being an author. Don’t let anyone take it away from you. You created this new world, it’s now yours to make of it what you will…

My writing bench

© Rosanna Ley
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