In the past week, an odd question has been put to me about my current work.
The novel is dark, handling themes of violence, abuse, sexual deviance and betrayal of the deepest loyalties.The question is this; what am I doing to protect myself while working on these topics and manoeuvring my characters in and around the tale?
I was touched by the question - offered out of genuine concern. And it certainly made me think. I mean, if you watched horror movies all the time, you'd get jumpy (I had a three hour nightmare about Zombies the other night that took a whole day to shake off). If you read sleaze all the time it would alter your perspective, wouldn't it?
When I studied Acting, we had strategies to put in place if you were undertaking a heavy role (I had one where I'd lost my mind and my daughter was about to put me to sleep with her gun). They were processes to disengage yourself from the role and the things that were happening to your character.
That was when the curtain drew back and I finally realised why I have been struggling to get on with this book. I simply haven't been looking after myself -carrying around deep grief and pain on behalf of my young girls in the story, and feeling generally heavier than I might otherwise.
So, I share this as a cautionary reminder that you should make conscious preparations to enter the created world you are writing, but more importantly, exit it mindfully and definitely when you are finished for the day.
I shall endeavour to put this into practice and let you know if it works.