I’ve spent the last six months waking early, writing late, holed-up alone in quiet rooms trying to bring a book to life. There are days that I don’t shower, and days that I look feral, and I wonder what my neighbors think when they see this disheveled, solitary writer still in her pajamas when the day is almost done.  If people ask me what I’m doing with my days, I tell them that I’m writing, and I am.  But the truth is, I’m also dreaming; I’m living in a second secret world, the world of my unfolding story, and it’s a world that seems as real to me as the one that keeps asking for my time.  

It’s serious work for me, this deep immersion into dream-life; I struggle to transition between imagination and reality. When I have to write a blog post (for example), I’m reminded how difficult it is to get yanked out of my story when everything unfolding on the page seems more urgent than real-life.   

Not every fiction writer works this way, but plenty do, and I know I’m not alone in my desire to live fully in my story, to wake and sleep with the people and the problems and the story-place vivid in my mind.  And I know I’m “in” a book when the people on the page are as real to me as the people that I love. 

Solitary dream-time is a rare gift in my life, and I’ve learned to use it well. So when I’m lucky enough to hang a DO NOT DISTURB sign on my days, I cherish every quickly disappearing minute.  I live deeply in the novel knowing that the world will claim me soon.

For now, the door is locked.  The phone is off.  The world is gone.  This writer is at work. 


  1. Some of the best writing "bits" actually happen when we are NOT putting pen to paper. Thanks Sheila.

  2. This is such a beautiful post. I've often heard writers say the real world is a poor substitute for the written one. There's a lot of truth to that...


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