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Actor to writer

28 August 2017

‘To begin with, the novelist does not rely on someone to give them a job. They can pick up their pen, or add to a document, whenever they like. They can squeeze it around the day job, the nappy changes, the school day, the boiling of potatoes. There's no immediate pressure to "get it right" as there is with an audition. If a sentence or paragraph or chapter doesn't work, no one has to know. Best of all, the world they create belongs only to them. That is, of course, until the time comes to share; just as an audience can transform a theatrical evening, so a reader can take a book and make of it what they will.

For all of the ways the roles of actor and writer seemingly overlap, it strikes me they are as diametrically opposed as the two fish in the Piscean zodiac. However much an actor loves to research the world of the play, ultimately the time comes for them to think rather more specifically about their character. At this point, they have to become selfish about pursuing their character's persona. To be convincing, they need to sink deeply into the skin, the mannerisms, the psyche of another person. When they do that, their cares for the external universe necessarily shrink as awareness of their internal world increases. Not so the writer, for they may start with the smallest nugget and from that grow an entire planet. Their ideas expand and keep on expanding - the creation of every book is the Big Bang in miniature - forever spiralling outward, until deadlines, or word count, or reaching that magical (mythical?) satisfaction allows them to stop. Speaking of which...'

P K Lynch, author of just-published Wildest of All, in Bookbrunch