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Saturday, 9 April 2011

My ‘zone’ is full of strangers.

With less than two months to go before Lagan Love is released.  I try to keep my head down. I am working on a new story but I am struggling with it. For me, and, I would assume, others, writing a book is a lot like interpreting a dream. The embryonic idea comes from somewhere – not unlike all of those ‘immaculate’ conceptions that seemed to plague so many young ladies throughout history – and sticks to something inside of me. It is not a matter of gestation; it is a matter of becoming possessed by a vague awareness that, if cultivated, becomes a notion that could become an idea.
And when I sit down to try to make the idea into a story anything can happen. I have to allow myself to drift – or force myself to plunge – into a different reality peopled by strangers that I have to get to know through excavation rather than creation.
Like many worthwhile things in life, this requires focus and commitment – getting in the zone where you are functional and effective in a strange environment – not unlike when I learned to do laundry while staying home with our newborn, changing diapers and catering to unreasoned demand. But that was so long ago now.
Life demands getting in the zone on a regular basis and I think that is a good thing because so much of life can be a mind-numbingly dull, or just plain disappointing – or just a humdrum of electronic buzz about the constant need to sate all needs and desires.
So I get into my zone and try to extract my story from the mists. Like in all good wanderings in the mist, shadows loom and look like people, or animals, or those strange unnerving images from the memory of mythology.
You know what I mean, nothing like a good scary walk in the mists to get the heart pumping. But if you can hold your nerve, wispy shapes and shadows can become as real as they were in mythology. I think of Poe and Mary Shelly and the mists they must have walked through. This is not to be confused with the mists of Malcolm Lowry, Brendan Behan and Dylan Thomas, to name but a few.
For now, my zone is misty and full of strange new people that I have yet to come to understand. I now know not to get frustrated and to try to force themselves to reveal their character, it will come – I hope.
And when it does you can all get to meet them – the strange people of my zone.