And what a marvellous thing it is too. Except when you’ve sprinted out of the house, mid-scene, to collect your kids and now one of your lovely mummy friends is trying to engage you in light chitchat in the school playground. You stare at her blankly as you try to process simple terms such as ‘play dates’ and ‘cake sales’. They may as well be quoting the periodic table or speaking Urdu, neither of which make any sodding sense to me. You see I embarked on an Imagination Vacation sometime around 2pm and now my headspace is all about whether my lead character will choose her lover’s private jet or yacht to whisk her away to the Festival de Cannes…
It’s tricky stuff being a writer but even worse trying to engage with one. When a burst of creativity hits it tends to fragment the simplest of conversations. Routine is ripped apart by its fuzzy-edged shrapnel. I overheard my kids chatting the other day, bemoaning the fact that the youngest cherub was forced to ask me five times for a glass of water. ‘But mummy’s working…’ explained the eldest knowledgeably, as if such a thing held mystical princess powers and shot fireworks out of my eyeballs. At this rate they’ll be in therapy long before I see one of my books on the shelves of Sainsbury’s.
It’s not just us writers that spend our lives in a semi-permanent haze of otherworldliness either. It makes the day bearable so we’re all as guilty as charged.
There’s a brilliant scene in one of my favourite movies, ‘The Commitments’, when the lead character, Jimmy Rabbitte, is lying in a bubble bath, clutching the shower head like a microphone and conducting an imaginary interview with the late, great Terry Wogan. Hands up who’s ever had that moment? For me it was Parkinson though, circa 1996, with Kevin Spacey on my left, chortling wickedly along to my witty asides.
But what about that other essential writer’s gizmo? The ‘Back to the Future’ plutonium-like fuel of this imagination stuff, better known as Inspiration. It’s true that much of what I write about has been influenced from my experiences in the film industry. Of course names and dates have been changed to protect the not so innocent… But it’s not easy sometimes to make that connection, from the no- milk-in-the-fridge-reality to when the words are flowing so fast that your fingers are tripping over themselves to hit the right notes on the keyboard.
For this I have no better inspiration than my children. How my eldest interacts with her toys is so genuine and all embracing. I’m mesmerised. When Rainbow Dash doesn’t win first prize in the beauty competition, that has taken over her bedroom, the landing and the upstairs bathroom, real tears are shed. Then again, she doesn’t have the lure of social media when the alliteration of Barbie’s victory speech proves somewhat problematic…
I didn’t win the Romance Writing Competition by the way. I did, however, receive a very personal and encouraging letter from one of the competition editors at Harper Collins. Thank you to whoever you are. You gave me the inspiration and the imagination to carry on a little bit longer with this writer’s dream of mine.