|Icelandic fireworks. Image credit: Ármann Höskuldsson/IMO|
What? Did I what? What did you think I was talking about? The referendum? Ha ha! No, this week was the deadline for submission of my Open University Masters dissertation - snappily entitled “How far can our knowledge of past explosive volcanic eruptions in Iceland and elsewhere contribute to prediction of future events and mitigation of their impacts?”
That’s why I’ve barely written anything for weeks that wasn’t either a work commitment or else involved a complicated analysis of the current situation at Bárðarbunga volcano (which, by the way, is now looking as if it may yet erupt properly).
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve loved my OU studies. But I am slightly worried that, as I enter my recovery period, I’m right out of my fiction mindset. My brain is programmed to focus on rhyolite rather than romance, and the fireworks of my imagination aren’t emotional ones but spat out from the bowels of the Earth.
Now that I have the time to write I’m a little worried that I won’t be able to do it. Although I have no concerns about ideas (my holiday in Italy gave me plenty of inspiration) there’s the question of contrasting styles to consider. I’ve trained myself to write in an impersonal style — one that’s measured and objective, stripped of any emotion and geared heavily towards the passive voice.
My promise to myself was that when all this was over I would let myself write. I have the synopsis of my holiday story planned although I’ve rather got out of touch with my characters. But that’s easily sorted — I just need to have a little chat with them over a coffee and see what they think.
No; my fear is that I may have lost my writing voice. Have I changed it for ever? Have I given up any lightness of touch I may have had? Will I write my novels like a scientist (which might be funny for five minutes but no longer)? Worst of all, will I lose the best of each approach and end up with the worst of both worlds?
Help, please! What’s your advice?