I’ve never been an adrenaline junky. I like the ground under my feet and the sky above me.
Years ago, when I had the opportunity to do a bungee jump I considered it for about three seconds, then decided it wasn’t for me. The thought of two weeks of anxiety in the run up to doing the jump followed by sixty seconds of euphoric relief didn’t seem to add up. Why? Because I could imagine how what it might be like, hear the rush of wind through my ears, feel the uncomfortable build up of pressure behind my eyes.
Yes, the actual event wouldn’t be quite the same as I imagined it, but anyone who writes, or draws, or does something creative will have one thing in common – a fertile imagination. So I could also imagine my feet ripping from my ankle sockets, the rope snapping and my skull compressing into the soft matter that was once my brain as I hit the ground below me.
Too many variables, too much imagination. Or maybe you’d call it cowardice. Either way it means I’m not the sort who seeks out thrills, puts my body in harms way to get the blood pumping through it.
But that’s not entirely true. My brain does seek those thrills, especially when I’m writing. I’ve noticed a growing obsession, a self-destructive streak in my storytelling that I’ve called ‘Page Jumping‘.
The first time it happened I had two characters from my début novel, Sorrowline
, trapped in a room at the top of a hotel. My original plan was that they would sneak out of an unlocked door and make good their escape. But as I started writing it down the door became locked! Then the characters barricaded the door and set fire to the room. What were my characters doing? What was I
doing? There was no way out, not that I could see, not that I had planned. I’d page jumped. I’d thrown myself off the edge of my planned narrative and didn’t know what I was going to do next – didn’t know where or how I’d land.I could have deleted the few pages of chaos, gone back to my plan, but I chose to run with it and see if a parachute would open. During the night my sub-concious (who I believe knows exactly what he’s doing, and likes to mess with me) offered up a solution that had been foreshadowed a few chapters earlier. Spookily it all fitted into place. My narrative parachute had opened, but not before everyone, including me, had bricked themselves wondering what was going to happen next. And if the writer doesn’t know how to get out of a situation there’s a good chance the reader won’t see it coming either.
And its not just me that seeks the creative thrills of page jumping. Tony Jordan
, creator of Hustle and co-creator of Life on Mars, discusses this very point:
The more I’ve page jumped the more addicted to it I’ve become. Its not always worked out, but in most cases its added an unexpected richness to my work. Its not for the faint hearted or the obsessive planners, but if you’ve not tried it yet – go for it! Page jump!