There is another side to being a writer that seldom gets talked about. Writing as a form of insulation. Mass shootings, government in a death spiral, racism run amok. All these things make keeping a clear head for writing your novel difficult, even when you attempt to avoid the news, as I do. But the churning is insipid, creeping in through waiting room television, the radio in stores, from coworkers and strangers in line at the grocery.
What’s a writer to do?
Plunge into the world of your novel and don’t come up for air. Insulate yourself from the outside world by concentrating on your world and characters. (Although if you are writing something political and contemporary, you’re pretty much screwed. Sorry. )
I safely insulated myself in the head of my protagonist, concentrating on what drove her and her various predicaments. All well and good, until I found out my insulation wasn’t air tight. Or world tight. News from the outside crept into my character, until there were a few dark turns and talks I never intended. It leaves you wondering, did that really come from me? Should I be keeping my characters in cotton wool? Why won’t the world leave me the hell alone, can’t it see I’m busy creating?
I didn’t want the outside world influencing my story. I want a blanket fort, with me inside, typing away. I want to be oblivious, so caught up in my fantasy world that coming back to reality would be a shock. I want to live elsewhere. Or elsewhen.
It doesn’t work that way. The world doesn’t care what I want. It insists I be more aware, open my eyes, look around, and oh, yeah, I need to tear away that insulation. Let some dirt in on my pristine novel. It will be better for it. And for me. I acquiesce, and throw my blanket fort back on the bed.
Bring it world. My protagonist has magic. And so do I.