One of the pleasures of writing is creating a world that is, for now, all yours. It’s a place you escape to where no one can follow unless you invite them.
Your husband wants to know where supper is? Kids need attention? You cope with it using the small part of your brain that’s left over. The part you left behind on your expedition to your inward world, to what feels like your real self and the place and people you have invented.
In this world the people fill their prescribed roles, with needs appropriate to their situation and outbursts conveniently located at plot points. Not when you’re busy with something else (like writing).
And you can produce the kind of weather you’d like. Snow and frost? Cool! You can make one day become surprisingly warm and sunny just to keep the variation going. Not like real life where the weather persists on doing its own thing – one hot day or wet day after another without a break. The writer can mitigate such inconveniences.
It feels strangely uncomfortable when you have to yank yourself back from some future or past world. There’s a sense of unreality as you peel yourself away from the frosty day with Isabella in 16th-century Venice. Oh! Oops! Frost is unlikely in Venice… from a sultry day in Venice because you have to deal with the dog throwing up on a West coast foggy day.
It’s annoying to drag yourself back from Isabella’s devastatingly broken heart to deal with road rash on Jason’s knee.
And yet, dealing with the fog and the road rash – minor irritations, definitely not on a literary scale – are what builds us. They build our focus – that focus muscle that lets us mop up the blood, say soothing things, hug gently and get right back to Isabella. She is waiting, poised in her grief, gazing heartsick across the canal.
And while you were looking for the ointment you thought of a terrific twist to pull her out of her despair. No time to waste.
The happenings of our everyday life build our bank of experiences. How will we express fog? After a few days we can clearly articulate the feelings it gives us – the mystery or the dreariness. We remember fine details of sensations and feelings for use later in our writing.
We hold Jason’s tumble in our mind as part of our experience as parents; as part of the integral structure of our life and its emotional fullness. Without it, irritation and all, we are less rich. And less rich emotionally means poorer as a writer.
It’s all inter-connected. No part is wasted. You create a world. The world creates you.