I love this question. I sometimes first envision a book as a shining, shimmering castle on a distant hill. It is my greatest longing to recreate that vision so that not only I can inhabit it, but you, as my reader, can, too. The castle always appears the same: distant, sparkling, ethereal. There is never anything menacing about it. But I ache with yearning as I gaze at it in the distance.
We are told by psychologists that when we dream of a house we are really dreaming of our inner selves. Perhaps the castle I see in my vision is some sort of waking dream.
When I’m writing I enter an alternate reality, going deep within myself so that I am not aware of the physical act of making a book; I am inhabiting a reality separate from the one my body occupies. It is an extraordinary experience. One that I’ve repeated over and over because of how deeply satisfying it is.
I’m not certain this comes close to answering your question, Emma, but I think it might come close to answering one of mine.