I’ve always been the same. As a kid, I used to make stories up with the cuisinere rods that were supposed to teach me my number bonds. I day dreamed constantly and it I wasn’t making up stories I was reading them - under the desk when I should have been knitting, or, sadly, doing maths. As a result at least one of my teachers thought that I was of below average intelligence and many more found my frequent mental absences, baffling. (I always felt that was their problem, never mine.)
I don’t care much about how I consume story - I’ll read on an e-reader or off my phone. I love library books, second hand books, rescued from a skip books, new books; high quality literary fiction and barely literate fantasy as long as the concept and the plot is strong. I am please and relieved to say that becoming a writer and a creative writing teacher has not impacted my capacity to read joyfully, uncritically, compulsively, till the early hours, till my eyes burn and water, until a story is done.
I am a highly critical person, as anyone who has ever asked for my opinion ( and many who haven't) will know, but somehow I can suspend both my disbelief and my disapproval when I read for pleasure. Books by-pass my reason and my adult conditioning. They still make me weep and laugh out loud, as if I were still the child who couldn’t see the pages of ‘the Little Princess‘ for my tears and ‘Just William‘ for my bouts of helpless giggles.
Long ago when I was a beginner writer, I claimed that I didn’t have to write stories, that it was a choice, a business decision and, like any addict I really believed I could just walk away; that I was in control.
That was a delusion. I don’t think I can. Worse, I don’t think I want to.
I moan a lot. I moan about the difficulties of writing, the long boring bit in the middle when a story is not fresh and exciting, the struggle to plough through dips in self belief when you can’t remember why you started the book and can’t imagine finishing it.
But I still want to write, maybe I still have to write. I love the way narrative makes my brain feel, the buzz I get from making an idea work on the page. I love that entirely legal high of beginning and the quieter deeper satisfaction of finishing.