It’s been a sticky couple of months.

I got to the end of the path on my first draft, and there didn’t seem to be anywhere else to go.

I looked around, reread, forced myself to take little forays into the woods on both sides of the path, set my brain free, reeled it back in. But….


The book remained incomplete, thin, unresolved.

I know it’s in there somewhere, I can feel it. I know roughly what it’s about. But it felt like a loose clothesline — a string with no tension — and only a single damp sock flapping on it.

So I gave up. I finished my book tour and stopped trying to work. I did other things. Had a few days off. Went to the V&A and looked at the new design show. Saw Gerhard Richter at the Tate. Started planning the masterclass I’m teaching on finding a voice. Wandered around the Ashmolean in Oxford and had lunch in a pub.

It felt like psychological trepanning — knocking a hole in my skull to let in some fresh air.

And then last night at around 4:15am, just like magic, a ghost crept into my room and planted a new idea in to my brain. I got out of bed and wrote it down.

OK, so it’s not the world’s biggest idea. But it has opened up the landscape. And it’ll lead to something else. A buried skeleton. A pumpkin. A witch.

It’s a bit early for Halloween, but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the idea ghost.

Come by anytime. Don’t bother to knock.


14 thoughts on “The idea ghost visits me in the night.

  1. Mieke Z. Mackay 7 years ago

    That’s just wonderful. Now that’s a ghostly visit I wouldn’t mind.

    How I wished I lived in London. I’d love to sign up for that masterclass.

  2. Kate 7 years ago

    You have well-trained ghosts. Mine whisper rubbish in my ear at 4.15 – though it always seems fabulous at the time.
    We are planning Gerhard Richter for half-term next week! My son and I don’t get too inspired by his work, but my mother and daughter love it. (Similarly, the Joan Mitchell also in Tate Modern.) Perhaps you called up your idea ghost by abstract art association?

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      I prefer the non-abstract Richter, though he has some beautiful big abstracts too. You might change your mind…!

  3. Lia Keyes 7 years ago

    A lovely post, Meg! I’ve been in the same place with my manuscript for a while, and had a couple of visits from the idea ghost this week, too. Then a boost from a friend who believes in the book made me put it into action when I was about to give up. This writing lark is not for the faint-hearted, is it? Thanks so much for sharing your own experiences with us. If even you have these moments, I don’t have to feel quite so hapless.

  4. Ray Hewitt 7 years ago

    Them ghosts that used to keep me awake … well they’re getting edited arrggghhhh etc – I blame you for this Meg .. But we’re getting there!

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      Beat them to a pulp, Ray.

  5. Peter Bryenton 7 years ago

    Wonderful imagery (“a single damp sock flapping”) thanks Meg. Those big artists’ dates should materialise some ideas to haunt you.

  6. from an anonymous student in worcester 7 years ago

    this is fab! hope the idea ghost comes and visits me while I’m on holiday on my cruise! I’m taking your book on holiday with me, so I will let you know what I think of it. the idea ghost for the win!

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      It is weird, but it’s not magic…

  7. Amy Windridge 7 years ago

    I love the idea of psychological trepanning (and think I probably need some). Thanks for continuing inspiration and delight. 🙂

  8. Amy Windridge 7 years ago

    Oh yes, as well, I heard your magic fish fairy-tale on radio 4 recently. It was fab and I’m wearing my flat chest and frizzy hair and sun-damaged skin with pride now.

  9. Charlotte 7 years ago

    You are lucky to have such brilliant ghosts. My best friend is a ghost cat who whispers Victorian jokes and puns into my ear. They make me laugh, but the only one that gave me any brilliant ideas was when he whispered how Victorians scorned the way Greeks competed in the Olympics NAKED.

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