…which is how I learnt that what you write can have physical effects on you. OK, fair enough, I had an idea before, but yesterday I was writing a rather traumatic scene, Ned touched me on the shoulder to offer me tea, and when I turned towards him, his reaction was as above.
Today I’ve written as much, but because the tenor of the scenes I am working on is less intense, I’m still feeling quite healthy in mind and body.
I’ve said before Ned can tell when I’ve written a killing because I wander around looking vaguely miserable, ‘like a whipped dog’ apparently, but that’s not the same as becoming visibly pale at the keyboard. The effort of concentration is one part of it of course, but also as you write I think you are recreating in your own mind the mental state of the characters. I don’t think you can find the right rhythm to the prose if you don’t.
Now, I don’t spontaneously start to bleed when someone gets stabbed, and I don’t sweat and pant writing a chase scene, I’m not claiming some writerly stigmata here, but in the chase case I know my heart starts beating faster, and in the stabbing I’ll imagine it so vividly that the feeling hovers somewhere between the mental and physical.
It’s part of my job, and I am almost proud of the fact I can go deep enough in that when some character is going through hell, Ned can see it in the colour of my lips.