Literary Support Crews

Here’s the thing about being an author: it’s a solitary, always in your head kind of thing. I can ask for help with the very tangible steps in the process (critiques, beta-reading, listening to passages), but there are times when an idea or image is a whisper of a thought in my head, something that hasn’t been worked out yet, and may not be for years. But it’s there, and I want to know everything I can about it while it’s swimming around in my brain.

So how does a writer take a whisper of a thought and turn it into a total sensory experience? Well you imagine each and every sound, sight and sensation that could go with that (imagined) moment in time. And sometimes, you risk exposing the humiliating randomness of your brain, and you ask for help to “experience” what you’ve imagined.

Being the friend of an author isn’t the same as being friends with a photographer, painter, or musician (or so I imagine). To take part in the process with a writer or photographer, you might be asked to pose, with a musician you can hear the creative process as the piece is developed. With an author–well, a lot of time we don’t even know where the piece is going, can’t describe it, and you won’t even see it until it’s done-ish.

But what’s important is to have those people in your life that you can turn to and say, “So, I have this totally random thing I’d like your help with.”

And so it was, in Scotland when my own family and friends (my literary support crew!) helped me capture the sounds and images of what it might be like to march into an enemy castle…

Storming the castle…

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