“I begin to see that writers are liable to become callous.”
I read this quote yesterday in I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith (which I’m loving, by the way) and had one of those ‘so true’ moments. I’m not sure if writing makes you look at the world in a different way or if looking at the world in a different way makes you write. But I do know that I’ve always had a kind of detached ‘outside looking in’ feeling. I often see the more intense parts of my own life as though I’m watching a scene in a movie- standing on the sidelines and judging my conversations and movements. And those of other people, of course. It often means my words and actions are the result of calculations as to the probable result, rather than impulse. Perhaps writers really are just shy actors.
As a child, though, I thought this was the case for everyone. So I saw an element of acting in most people’s reactions. I rarely saw emotions like anger as being wholly genuine. So I wasn’t very sympathetic. I’m still not, even though I now understand that most people don’t experience life as I do.
But I’m betting that most writers understand this kind of detachment. That we’re aware that when someone is angry with us, or flirting with us, or upset about something, a part of our mind is not really present. It’s outside, analysing. And later, while we’re writing, we know what hand gestures someone uses, what their body language should look like when expressing a particular emotion. We just know people.
Please tell me this isn’t just me?