Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dear Writers: We Are All Nuts

After the rather bleak and "depressing" blog about writing last week, I thought I owed my dedicated followers, fanners, and lovers, a more positive and upbeat excerpt from my brain. Writing isn't always bad, but like most things in life, when it rains, it pours. And while there are bad writer days, I find, for the most part, my writer days are good ones because they are the days I am able to sit down and open a vein into a whole other world.

If you are anything like me, you long to write. I have a 9-5 job (well, technically 5-2 job) that takes me away from my laptop for nine hours a day. Yes, I do feel sad about it, as if abandoning the little hunk of technology. When I leave before the sun breaks the hills on the horizon, I look longingly at "my spot". I never want to leave, but I'm an adult and I have to pay my bills, so I zip up my jacket, pull up my collar and step out into bitter reality (the working world).

The hours I spend at work are filled with fun things like copying and pasting, correcting other peoples mistakes, and staring out the window trying to ignore the fact that the hours, minutes, seconds are dragging by. It's painful, really. No, I'm being serious, I feel physical pain some days. Throughout the day little bursts of ideas well up and I get excited. Thrumming with eagerness to get home, sit down, power up and get down to business, I motor through my day. And when I sit down, my word document open, I heave a contented sigh, because for me, this is home.

My ass has left a perfect, comfortable nook in my couch, one that cannot and will not be duplicated in this lifetime.

The struggle of being published is certainly a trying one in a writer's life. It's one of the least enjoyable processes in the world. It weighs on your self-esteem and you question whether you should even be writing. It's a tedious process filled with broken hearts, love, loss, insomnia and weight gain. But we still write. Why?

Because we love it. It might hurt at times, it might feel defeating, but we wield the pen because we enjoy doing it. Sure we bleed, sweat and cry over our works, dumbfounding the people we share space with. And of course, by the end of a novel we've exhausted our fingers, brains and will to live, but still...we sit down and do it again.

The truth is, it's rewarding. We get to stand before the masses and say, we write. I'm the only person I know in my reality, meaning the people I can physically touch, who has ever written a book. And I know a lot of people. So what makes me so stinkin' special? Why are we the ones who are blessed with the ability to put words to paper?

I don't know!

From personal experience, I've learned not everyone is creative. For the most part, the average person lacks the quick wit and imagination to brainstorm ideas. It's why we, as writers, cultivate a support groups of other writers. So we aren't alone and when we bounce an idea off someone and ask what they think of something we don't get, "I don't know, is that realistic?" On more than one occasion, I've had someone tell me they can't understand how my brain works. How do you sit there and simply create? For us, it's simple, we simple write what we think, but how did we kick down the door to our imagination and invite it in for a tea party?

The answer is: lunacy. We are all nuts.

I am a firm believer that you have to be half cocked or off your rocker to create. There's a reason why artists go crazy...because the demons won't let them sleep. Of course, every one's writing process is different. Some people want silence, others a nice cuppa, and others still need to smoke a big, fat joint and listen to The Roots. To each their own, but the common thread is, we are all nuts.

If you break it down, it's insane to even entertain the thought of writing, let alone actually sitting down and doing it. Not only is it an art you suffer for, one you might never get total fulfillment from, but it's one that is so time consuming. It encroaches on areas of your life you never thought anything could elbow in on. Like bathing or having sexy times. But there you are, soapy the dirty bits and thinking about how one character is going to murder another character. The internal banter is never-ending!

And so, I have yet to meet a 'writer' who isn't batty as hell. Okay, okay. You're a writer, and you're reading this with a scowl thinking, I'M NOT A LUNATIC. Step away from the defensiveness and view this from an outsiders point of view.

You would rather stay home and write than attend a good friend's birthday party. You talk about your characters like they are real. The norm for you is sleepless nights, constant mulling, talking to yourself, talking to your characters and your care an concern for your surroundings is tossed out the window. Someone could be sitting next to you talking, but you don't hear them because your writer brain is turned on. You throw your hands in the air and storm off saying, "this character is an idiot" as if you didn't create them. Often you're seen, frantically searching your purse for a pen and paper in order to write down a smarmy thing you MC would say. You tell people that when you finish a book it's like you didn't even write it. Ever so often when editing your work, you laugh out loud and exclaim something is "so funny" because you don't remember writing it. On more than one occasion you've woken in the night, flicked on the light, blinding the person next to you, and started writing in the notebook by your bed. Upon completion of a novel, you sit back with a grin as if you've just had the best sex of your life.

If that's not insane, I don't know what is.

And your general lack of care for personal hygiene and presentation during NANO isn't helping.

The irony of this whole thing is...we are damned if we do and damned if we don't. Can you imagine how crazy we would be if we didn't allow the creativity out? We'd explode! It would be gruesome, the carnage would be immeasurable. The lives lost would be catastrophic.

The truth is, I'm a vessel for creativity, as you are, and when the time comes to write, write is what I do. That's my job, no matter if it doesn't pay the bills. If I don't put those words down, who will? It's my responsibility to tell the story in my head. And publishing isn't the reason I started writing. I never had a choice, so I'm going to enjoy it.

And even though it is time consuming, and others don't understand it, I still love the creation.

And for the record, I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.


Matthew Temple said...

Yay yay yay. I agree. It's the best thing in the world (for me). Keep brawlin'. MT

Toby Neal said...

We do. Because we have to. I've often thought that many of my life's persuits to this point were efforts to suppress the insane urge to write.
Did three degrees and a licensure and still couldn't keep my characters down...

Dan Holloway said...

I have a little imagination. Sadly my wit is so slow that I have to wait before crossing the road for it to catch up with me. I am, however, officially nuts.

rodgriff said...

I did wonder if I was nuts when I'd wake up hearing conversations between characters in my books. I came to the conclusion that if you hear voices telling you to do mad things then you may well be nuts. On the other hand if you hear voices having interesting conversations about some other world that they live in, then keep listening and pick up a pen (or other writing implement of your choice) because you may well be a writer.