Insane in the Membrane (theory)


There are writers feel story and character ideas are fed to them from “somewhere else”, a parallel universe perhaps, where these characters and stories truly exist.

Clearly, that “somewhere else” is a very vague concept and means different things to different scribes: it could be a religious concept, a spiritual one, or even tied in with scientific theory such as ‘brane cosmology’. Whatever your persuasion, writers who hold such beliefs say it is very important to allow your mind to be open to receiving these ideas – wherever they come from.

Personally, I’ve had moments when I felt plugged into a conduit, receiving stories, characters and ideas fully formed, all wrapped up and ready to go – though I hesitate to say if this was a spiritual event or just the  way the brain works in creative mode.

And it is a rare enough event – I can never conjure ‘the writing rapture’ but if I write often it’ll roll around every now and again. And when it does, it’s a  magical moment when stories and characters cascade.

All we can do is sit down to write every day and hope for the best – most days you’ll get coal but if you keep at it, the diamond muse will show up sooner or later.


About suehealy

Literary Manager at the Finborough Theatre and associate lecturer in playwriting at the universities of Lincoln and Portsmouth, Irish playwright Sue Healy has a PhD in modern theatre history. Her most recent stage play Imaginationship (2018) recently enjoyed a sell-out, extended run at the Finborough Theatre and is headed to the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough in August. Cow (2017) was staged at the Etcetera Theatre and Brazen (2016) ran at the King’s Head, funded by Arts Council England. Her work has been performed at the Criterion, Hackney Attic, Claremorris Festival (New Writing Award winner), Brighton Festival (the Sussex Playwrights’ Award Winner) and Sterts Theatre and has been developed by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and support by the Peggy Ramsay Award. Her nine radio-plays have broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (Opening Lines winner), WLRfm and KCLR96fm. She has won prizes for her prose including the Molly Keane and HISSAC Awards and the Escalator Prize. A UEA Creative Writing MA alumna, Sue spent eleven years in Budapest editing Hungary A.M. Sue also tutors Creative Writing at CityLit. View all posts by suehealy

7 responses to “Insane in the Membrane (theory)

  • europasicewolf

    Interesting! I think I’d go with the scientific theory for this 🙂
    It’s also very difficult to find time to sit down and write every day! I usually find that when I do a blank mind sets in…what was that you were saying about writing rapture? lol 😉 The closest I get to that is when I have one particular mobile in my hand, usually when I should be working and if the inspiration allows it flows wonderfully…for all of about 60 secs lol into my trusty mobile for use at a later date 🙂 Well! You have to capture those rare moments anyway you can! Once they disappear they never return in quite the right form 🙂

  • A. Michael Schwarz

    Clive Barker calls it Quididity. A vast dream sea of consciousness we all share in common. Hermitic Magick has a term for it as well, I think Dream Sea.

    I call it The Aesthetic Mind. Stephen King says all the stories are there and you as a writer more or less go about discovering them. Like an archaeologist, the action of writing, sweeps away at the sediment and unearths the relic.

    I agree with all of that more or less.

  • writerlyderv

    Thanks for that. I’ve been shovelling coal for way too long, but am still otpimistic about finding diamonds.

  • redjim99

    Everybody has a muse of a different kind I suppose, some call it hard work, others divine inspiration. Wherever it comes frome, if the wagon is rolling jump on board.


  • ldlagarino

    Sue, I’m new to your blog, and thank you for choosing to follow mine, although I haven’t posted much lately. I’ve chosen to do more off-line writing. When the time is right, I’ll pick it up again. Anyway, to stay on topic, I believe writing generates inspiration, not the other way around. One idea written leads to another and another. I never really thought of it as something mystical and magical. That’s not to say I don’t feel more creative some days than others. There are times when the mood strikes, I’d rather just sit back, daydream and enjoy it. Is that selfish?

  • wendyvitols

    I am very interested in this post. I think King is right – the stories are all there and it’s up to us as writers ti discover them…I’d go a step further, however, it’s up to us to express them in a way that becomes impermeable, a part of our collective understanding. But, well, whatever ‘it’ is, we must somehow enjoy it/need it. Look at us – we’re all doing it 🙂 And @Idlagarino ..I personally don’t think that’s selfish, I think that’s normal 🙂

  • Ben Naga

    Wow! Who remembers that track?

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