Two hours, fifty-five minutes and counting. By my reckoning I should be able to file this blog at midnight. I wrote 1200 words in 90 minutes the other evening between 9pm and 11pm. But I won’t write even 300 words now unless I can go into the bubble.
The bubble is a quiet place. It’s a soothing, yet dynamic space where the ideas and words appear exactly as you need them. You don’t fight the words in the bubble. They plip into your consciousness as if by magic. Ah yes, you think, as you type the words. Of course . . .
For me, the bubble appears in the evening. When the day’s busy-ness recedes, when the business of eating is complete and when I can find no other excuses – that’s when I sit down and write the words that have eluded me all day, maybe all week. It is time to write this chapter, I tell myself as I settle at my desk – and write it I will before I go to sleep tonight.
And, somehow, I do. I may have faffed about all day, but around 9pm my brain settles and the words begin to flow: because that’s what happens in the bubble. The words come, one by one, the sentences build and little by little the story emerges right in front of your eyes. You find yourself writing a twist in the plot that you did not know was there until the moment you press the keys. That’s a good idea, you think. I like that. I wonder where it’s leading me? And, providing you don’t rush, providing you feel the stillness around and inside you, providing that you trust the process – then the story will unfold. And, as it unfolds, right before your eyes, you know it’s the story you were seeking all along. It feels – like magic.
My bubble came as the snow fell; four inches in the first night and the world transformed. For the next two weeks, I watched as the snow deepened and the ice grew more deadly. Inside I was warm, protected and quiet. Day by day I stayed inside my bubble and each day wrote a new chapter. How my story would finally resolve I did not know, but, like a crossword being pieced together and alert to the clues in front of my eyes, its resolution suddenly became apparent.
Suddenly I was typing the words THE END. Is that the best bit? I always laugh. It seems a surprise to finish a story!
For a few hours, maybe days, you smile. The feeling of elation remains even as you print out your story, do the read-through, correct the typos and tighten pieces of writing here and there, then print it out again.
Then, carefully, you place your manuscript in a box file – and, as you do this, the elation recedes. Suddenly it feels as if it has another life. This story is not just in your head or stored on a file on your computer anymore, you realise, staring down at it. As you close the lid on the box file you know that your story is already out there.
You get into the car and place the box file on the seat beside you. Nobody has seen this story, you think, glancing down at it as you find your way through the traffic. Nobody but me knows what happens – but it has already gone, flown away. In a matter of minutes you will hand the manuscript to your editor. This story that you have owned, which did not exist until a few weeks ago has to find its own way in the world.
You drive home feeling happy, but a little empty. The bubble has faded. The house needs cleaning and you need a walk, a good long walk. Over the course of the next week you find your mind begins to empty of words. The mental clutter of life returns. But the bubble is there, waiting.
Sheridan Winn is author of the Sprite Sister stories.
She has just finished writing the 7th title in the series,
Magic at Drysdale’s School.