One of the most interesting things about writing this blog, for me at any rate, has been the effect that writing has on my thinking. It seems to free up out of reach areas of my brain and make them accessible in a way that nothing else does. A friend commented about my writing that “You have such a lot going on in your head!”, and indeed I do, much of it stuff that even I don’t know about. When writing my last series of posts about tattoos, whole vistas and steppes of ideas opened up as I wrote, revealing images and connections that I would never have otherwise thought of. Whilst writing it I occasionally wondered what I would say if anyone asked me where the set of posts was going: the only honest answer would have been “I don’t know, I don’t write the stuff”. I mean, clearly I DO write it, but much of it, particularly the meat of it, comes from a part of myself which is only accessible through dreams and writing.
I have heard other writers refer to similar experiences; the playwright Edward Bond, for instance, when asked why the protagonist in his play Restoration was only called ‘Lord Are’ (aka Lord R.) responded “That’s all he would tell me”. Similarly, when under pressure to finish a commission for the National Theatre, he explained that one particular character had taken the play over and he didn’t know how it was going to go. When told that they really did need the final scenes, as the play was starting rehearsals, he responded “That’s OK, I’ll kill him”. I don’t have characters to kill (at least, not yet), but I do often have the sense that a bit of myself which is not in my conscious control has taken the writing over and is driving it who knows where. It’s something which is fascinating and extremely enjoyable, albeit a little spooky, to experience.