Writing As An Astral Projection Device

When a book comes alive it’s a wonderful feeling. Your words sparkle on the pages. The dialogue is snappy. You even laugh out loud at some of your one-liners. The characters leap off the page. You can’t wait to get back to working on it.

Well, I’m not there yet. This is my fifth murder mystery, the fourth featuring Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department.

I’m reading through the second draft connecting bits and pieces, finding notes to myself:  (Describe bedroom) and (More here.) You writers know what I mean.  Now it’s time to wrestle with exactly how the bedroom looks, what kind of comforter or curtains reveal the character of the protagonist, how her closet smells, what pictures are on the wall.

But there’s the fight scene I’m having terrible trouble with. I’ve never been in a fistfight, never been shot, and never seen an actual gunshot wound. But how many times have we witnessed violence and death on TV and in the movies?

I suppose this is why we are given an imagination. I can imagine a fist coming at me. In my imagination I know the smell of gun powder, the sound, and feel the kick of a gun.

Take today’s New York Times, book section:  Write What You Know’ — Helpful Advice or Idle Cliché? http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/30/books/review/write-what-you-know-helpful-advice-or-idle-c

I take this from the second essay by Moshe Hamid. He writes:

 But I also write about things I haven’t experienced. I’ve written from the point of view of a woman, of a global surveillance system, of a writer who is being beheaded. I write these things because I want to transcend my experiences. I want to go beyond myself. Writing isn’t just my mirror, it’s my astral projection device.

 Ah, yes. We’ve all catapulted ourselves into worlds we will never know. I’ve written from the pov of a Chechen gold digger, a homeless teenager, a Kurdish gangster. It all feels normal to me while I’m doing it. You’ve done it too as writers.

Where have you soared in your imagination?


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