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...