The senses are so important when writing – working them into the book. The taste of salt, or fear, or the dry mouth of shock; the sound of a voice. The subdued longing in a touch or the latent aggression in a clasped hand; the brush of wet grass against the skin. The sight of an empty room, or a face among many others.
How about colour? Do you dream in colour?
Some thirty years ago, I developed M.E. It lasted four years. I still wrote, but it could be an effort. Not least because one of the strange neurological side-effects was that my hands felt like a bunch of bananas, and I had to look down at the keyboard to make sure they were a normal size while I hit the keys. My feet meanwhile felt like snowshoes, or the kind of outsized shoes that clowns wear. Somewhere in my brain the meningitis that I’d had before the M.E .had burned away the tiny space that dealt with the extremities, I supposed.
But the brain is an endlessly fascinating place, and those neural pathways repaired themselves. Thank God I never lost my grip on words. During this time I wrote Second Sight, about a woman whose brain begins to fabricate – or perhaps discern – voices that others can’t hear. I also wrote about synaesthesia in Out of Reach, a condition where the senses have a kind of jumbled process.
Unfortunately the ME permanently took away my ability to dream in colour. Before the meningitis I would dream vividly; during it even more so. Afterwards, only vaguely. And then after the ME, all my dreams became monochrome.
Well, almost. Just sometimes I dream of a bright blue sea, or sky.
Strange, isn’t it? But kind of strangely wonderful, too. My brain’s plugging away at that colour block. Maybe one day it’ll break it down. I’ll let you know.