Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Writer's Weaknesses # 1: Imagination.


There are many blogs that will tell you the strengths a writer needs so I decided, being contrary, to consider the weaknesses a writer may have.

Imagination was my first thought. Writing for children compels you to delve back into your own experience when young. A strong memory for me is watching Hammer Horror films late on a Friday night.

There's a theory that with any performance, the audience enters into a contract with the actors. They suspend their disbelief. My problem was that I kept to every word of that contract, even the small print. I still do.

Having watched the film, I then had to run (I had to run, believe me) a full 300 yards from my friend's front door to my own. Sometimes, my father, knowing what I had been watching would lay in wait and jump out, frightening the living daylights out of me.

Too much imagination, see. I still find it hard to watch horror or suspense films. My mind works on each scene all night. If they made a film of Mortlock, I probably wouldn't be able to watch it.
I've often thought those T-shirts with 'No Fear' written on them should be rebranded: 'No Imagination.' There was a phase in my life when I loved mountain-biking but they didn't call me 'Mr squeaky brakes' for nothing. You could hear me a mile away wearing the rims off my wheels as I squealed down hairpin single track imagining every possible break and contusion lurking in the rocks and ruts.
It's the same quality that leads us to submit work to agents and publishers. All writers are, by definition I suppose, total fantasists.
But some fantasies are worth chasing...

11 comments:

JJ Beattie said...

I'm chuckling at your Dad jumping out at you...

My sister and I watched the Hound of the Baskervilles, donkeys years ago, and as it finished our Dad crept out into the garden and howled... I've never been so terrified.

DOT said...

I think you will find that sofas weren't invented until Hammer Horror began their first production.

I spent my youth behind them. Still do.

I cannot bear horror films. If I want to frighten myself, I look in the mirror.

Pearl said...

weakness of writers? hm, thinking of who I know...dreaminess...people who forget about work when there's a story to be heard...?

>I've often thought those T-shirts with 'No Fear' written on them should be rebranded: 'No Imagination.' There was a phase in my life when I loved mountain-biking but they didn't call me 'Mr squeaky brakes' for nothing.

fabulous.

Michelle (Mickmouse) said...

Imagination is a gift and a curse, especially when it comes to being frightened! We live in a fairly old house and the squeaks adn creaks in the night (accompanied by tawny owls outside have my imagination racing and this generally leads either to writing on the notepad by my bed, or more likely, burying my head under the covers and desperately trying to think of something else!!
Often said someone's greatest strength can also be their greatest weakness!
Michelle
x
BTW Well done on running your feet down to your ankles in London!!
M
x

Megan said...

I was also brought up on a diet of Hammer - bu being scared can also be so much fun

BarbaraS said...

And your Dad adding to the scene and scaring the bejaysus out of you - that's participating in the act of imagination too. :)

Jan said...

When I was little ( I'm STILL little, actually) whenever I left our cosy sittingroom ( to go upstairs) my brother would yell after me :" Witches upstairs!" and I'd come skidding down those stairs again fast as poss...
SO those words ( witches upstairs!) still make me shiver...
And by the way I'll look out for you at the launch of the Uni book .

Tam said...

A monstrously bearded version of Guy Fawkes lived in the attic when I was five. Since the hatch was right outside my bedroom door, this presented some problems when I had to use the loo. And when we moved house, about four years later, Dracula used to lie full length on the skylights about my bed, staring in hungrily. More recently, the man who came to read the electric meter turned out to be a vampire, who came back later that night. I don't mind my imagination in the daytime but why does it seem to be so pessimistic at night?

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Oh what a spot on post! Yep, I relate totally to "having" to run home. Way too much imagination indeed!

Minx said...

Welcome to The Wuss Club - I still find the cybermen scary (cushion anyone?).

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

No Fear = No Imagination = Absolute truth...

Aren't the fantasies that are worth chasing the breath of life itself!!

What else are we here for, then, if not to live life to its fullest?

;o)

Scarlett & Viaggiatore