The other day I had the fleeting and chilling notion that I was like a God deciding the fates of people who, as far as I know, may exist in a parallel reality. In that situation it would be heartless to make decisions based on what makes the most gripping story, but conversely, for a writer, kindness might cause failure of authenticity. It’s a fine balance. The imagination is illusive – where do the ideas that flit through the mind come from?
The first novel I wrote for adults, ‘Dreaming in Colour,’ was pretty damned awful. I couldn’t bring myself to read it now, but writing it was a tremendous experience at the time. I’ve rarely been so engrossed in anything – and so nearly unbalanced. How much easier it is to be a choreographer – at least you can see the work as it takes shape in the rehearsal room beyond the thinking mind. I recall the powerful sense that I myself was changed through creating one particular character, a dancer called Silas Hall. I’d recently seen Japanese dancer, Saburo Teshigarawa, and Silas emerged from the memory of Teshigarawa’s wonderful piece ‘Beyond Zero’. Silas lived in my imagination for a long time. One particular day, weighted down with stress, I had the sudden feeling that he stood beside me. It was like greeting a beloved friend, like sunlight breaking through cloud, an unsettling and wonderful experience. I don’t consider writing to be therapy. Often it’s the hardest work. But at times the relationship between the writer and her characters feels tangible and equal. Who is controlling who? Perhaps, when a character comes to life, it’s as close as the writer can get to standing apart from the familiar self? But it’s more than this too.