On the importance of immersion

A recent FB post by Karen Moning struck a chord so much with me that I find myself blogging about something she said now.  Excerpt from her post..”My creativity comes from two things: Joy and Immersion. Joy I usually manage to hold onto even at the darkest times because I fundamentally love being alive. Immersion means being able to turn your back on reality and live in a fiction for extended periods. The longer you can stay in, the tighter and more tactile the story becomes. Immersion means not having to get out of the chair…”

I have been struggling with my writing recently, and it wasn’t until I saw her post that I realized the problem is immersion.  When I first created my manuscript I didn’t have nearly as much in my life as I do now.  Now I have a child, MANY animals, a house to take care of, a job that requires constant attention, relationships to manage with friends and family, bills to pay…the list goes on and on.  Immersion is both the most wonderful and awful thing to happen to a writer.  I equate it to the drug of choice for any addict. When you are immersed, you are high.  Living in a world where the colors are brighter, the smells stronger, and the emotions take you on the wildest and fastest ride of your life.  The type of writing you achieve is the best you will ever do.  It’s tight and cuts right to the heart of what you wanted to say and do with your characters.

The problem with immersion is coming out of it.  What will your life look like when you come down off the high? What relationships will you have wrecked from neglect?  What does your house look like if you don’t do dishes or clean for a week?  And this isn’t something writers need once or twice, we need it over and over and over and over again.  The longer we can immerse, the better the manuscript will be.

Lately, even when I have the time to immerse, I won’t do it.  It wasn’t until seeing Karen’s post that I realized, I’m afraid.  I’m afraid of what will happen if I dive back into my work headfirst.  What will I lose in the name of writing? What am I willing to sacrifice for the sake of this work? If I continue on without immersion will I always wonder if my manuscript could’ve been better? Do I really want to put work out into the world that isn’t my best? Where is the balance? Is there a balance?

I wish I had more answers than questions.  Knowing I’m afraid of something brings in a flood of other negative feelings, but it will never stop me.  I spend too much time convincing myself I can have it all to quit in the face of fear.  Maybe I can’t have it all at the same time, but there is a way to achieve everything I want.  I’m pretty sure no one’s first book is the best work they’ve ever written.  For today, recognizing the fear is enough.  The next step will be battling it and being a good and supportive friend to myself.  Immersion, here I come.

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