An occupational hazard?


So the edit’s progressing pretty well, which is good. I’m falling into a fairly productive rhythm, and whilst it’s not so easy to hold on to my clarity of thought now that I’m swimming in the words again I think things are heading in the right direction.

I’m definitely feeling like I’m getting deeper into my protagonist’s head, understanding more clearly why she’s acting the way she is (and actually sharing that with the reader rather than hoping they’ll work it out for themselves). I’m feeling the presence of my antagonist more keenly too, though he hasn’t explicitly made an appearance yet. And this is where the slight downside of all this comes in.

Having spent a week immersing myself in some incredibly tense and creepy thrillers, and now trying to layer that growing sense of dread into my own writing, I’m finding my relationship with the real world has gone a little bit off-kilter… I’m seeing things out of the corner of my eye, hearing noises that I’m pretty sure aren’t actually there, and at times feeling almost as on edge as poor Grace herself.

There was a particularly ridiculous night last week when Leigh was away in Exeter. I’d managed to get Arthur down to sleep reasonably early, and had stayed up a bit too late watching unnecessary TV. By the time I finally headed to bed, with revision ideas for the novel still whirring around my mind, I was overtired and a little too open to suggestion. It had just gone midnight, and Leigh’s bedside light was on when I got to our room. I’m still not entirely sure why (it hadn’t been when I’d gone upstairs earlier I swear), and at that moment in time I convinced myself it was because there was someone in the house. Heart racing, I cautiously checked the top floor was clear. I then crept downstairs and got Arthur from his room, waking him up in the process, and took him up with me to hide under the duvet. There was nothing rational about all this – and I knew that at the time, though it didn’t stop the creeping terror. I’m just glad I stopped short of calling Leigh and insisting he came home before I finally fell asleep!

It hasn’t got quite that bad since, but I’ve still been pretty jumpy. I’ve been prone to anxiety in the past, and it seems that letting my imagination wander into the recesses of a psychopath’s mind might just have awakened that… And I’m still only a few chapters in, so who knows what’s going to happen when things really start hotting up.

Ho hum… An occupational hazard I guess. Anyone else find their imaginary worlds seeping into reality, or is that just me?


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16 thoughts on “An occupational hazard?

  1. Nicola Young

    Oh no, Sophie! I can imagine that happening when you get so immersed in your fictional world. It’s bad enough watching a scary film (which I never too because I’m too much of a wuss).

  2. redpeffer

    Oh yes, if I’m not careful I can definitely get too caught up in my own words or those of other’s and totally freak myself out! It takes a huge effort to pull back to reality. But I think it is the occupational hazard of creative minds-imagination slips into ‘reality’. I guess it’s a good thing?!

  3. maddy@writingbubble

    Argh, scary! I think it’s one of the downsides of having a good imagination! I’ve not experienced it with my own writing but scary films really freak me out! In terms of writing seeping into other things though, I find when I’m immersed in writing rhyming stories I start thinking generally in rhyme. Making a cuppa for a friend yesterday I found myself thinking “And now I’ll make some cups of tea / one for you and one for me.” Thankfully I managed not to say it out loud! Thanks for linking to #whatImWriting xx

  4. Mummy Tries

    Oh my word it’s so scary when things like that happen, really freaks me out! I guess if you’re writing intense creepy scenes then it stands to reason your version of reality will be a bit skewed. Hope you manage to get back to normal nice and fast lovely xx

  5. Emily Organ

    Oh goodness yes, I’ve had this. For a similar reason. I wanted to create a ‘sense of menace’ in my second book so I read some horror. I’ve never read horror in my life, nor is it something I would write. However, I enjoyed the books and was a jumpy mess at night time too! Then I thought I’d watch The Shining on Sky+ *shiver*. Definitely an occupational hazard : )

  6. Dana

    Oh wow, that is scary, but I can see how easily it can happen, especially when you’re writing something dark! It’s a testament to how deeply you’re involved. Definitely a hazard of the job 🙂

  7. Morgan Prince

    Scary stuff. No, you’re not the only one. When I’ve been trying to write my darker characters I’m just the same, I get jumpy and see thing from the corner of my eye. Like you said, occupational hazzard. Good luck, I hope it doesn’t get too bad! #WhatImWriting

  8. Chrissie@muddledms

    Eek. Hope you’re feeling better now! I get creeped out if I read newspaper articles about people being robbed in the night or thinking about my friend’s piano that used to play itself. I’m not good with being home alone overnight either and have to plan exit routes and all sorts.
    With regards to the writing, I find a character’s state of mind can sometimes seep into my own and influence decisions, for better or for worse. This can make me behave in odd ways (the first book about Julianne had my other half particularly worried about my state of mind.) Well done on getting deeper into it though. Sounds like you’ve made some excellent progress this week.

  9. Pingback: The lure of the dark side | Sophie is…

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