I’m currently reading The Legacy Human, by Susan Kaye Quinn. It’s a gripping story about a young man who plans to use his artistic ability to win a competition, a competition where the winner will have his consciousness inserted into a synthetic body that will allow him to join the other Ascenders and live forever. The trouble is, his best paintings only occur when he’s in a fugue state, a sort of out-of-body experience that brings out the best of his abilities, and he can’t control when the fugue comes and goes. As I said, an excellent story you might want to check out. If you’re interested, I’ll be posting a review of it next week.
But Susan’s story got me to thinking. Even though the fugue state in the book was associated with painting, it seems to me it’s a perfect analogy for writing. Most of the time, we writers sit in front of the computer (or pad of paper) and force ourselves to write, regardless of whether the muse is willing or not, hoping against hope we will slip into the writer’s version of the fictive dream where everything just seems to come together.
I slipped into one of those states this morning while sitting in bed, still half asleep*. I wasn’t trying to do this; it just happened on its own. Suddenly I found my mind sliding back to one of the earlier chapters in my story and running through it as if I were watching a movie. The dialogue, the internal thoughts, the descriptions—they just appeared in my head as if someone was reading them to me. Someone who knew what they were doing. Needless to say, I rushed to the computer and began typing everything down before the feeling evaporated.
It’s a wondrous feeling when you’re experiencing it, and incredibly exasperating when you’re not. Considering all the people in the world who want to be writers, if someone were to ever invent a way to trigger that mental state on command, I suspect they’d make a fortune.
I’d buy it in a second.
How about you? Have you found the secret to entering the fictive writer’s dream?
*I know my kids are dreading the return of school, and I feel for them, but the sooner school starts, the sooner they’ll go to bed earlier, which means the earlier I can get to bed too. I’m definitely not a morning person, even if it is the time when the fictive dreams come to me most often.