Every writer contains within their soul a world of stories desperately fighting for attention. Their desire is to drive their creator so mad with the very thought of them that the author will have no choice but to bleed the words onto page after page until the fevered passion dissipates. Every story clings to the hope that it will see the light of day and be sent off into the world to open minds and inspire the passions of other creative souls.
There is a stage amidst the roiling waves of the creative process where the passion of the story becomes all-consuming. You can call it inspiration, the work of the muse, or simply the art of the craft- your terminology doesn’t truly matter, all writers know this feverish stage. All creatives are dreamers by nature, it is written into our very existence, coded into our DNA. It is at the heart of who we are as people.
Lately I have found myself lost in the possibilities of another world, another person, another untold story. When this happens I can’t help but blindly and unequivocally obsess like a fifteen year old girl who has fallen for the guitar-strumming ‘misunderstood bad boy’ she sits next to in science class and who has only spoken the words ‘can I borrow a pen’ to her. There is no rhyme or reason to this newfound mania, no matter how many reasons she may be presented with on the subject. It simply exists and must run its course. My writing is no different than this obsessive compulsion.
The stories and characters take up nearly every ounce of useable brain space. I run through dialog as I wash my hair in the shower, finally giving an audible voice to see how the words taste- while maintaining the dignity of a private setting where no one can judge me speaking randomly into open air for no discernible reason. I have to turn off my audiobook as I commute to and from work because I can’t concentrate on the words of their story, given the preoccupation of my own. I politely decline lunch offers because ‘I’m trying to get a few things done on my break,’ without mentioning those ‘few things’ run heavy on the daydreaming with a slight peppering of frazzled note-taking I won’t be able to decipher later. I’m constantly having to put actual effort into concentrating on my tasks at work without letting my mind wander at the slightest provocation of a spare minute. I’m struggling to stay focused on polite conversations as I go about my daily business, my mind is consistently meandering it’s way back to the same consuming thoughts. I stay awake with plot lines darting through my mind and dream about this world that does not yet exist, not even on paper.
The passion propels me, redirecting my gaze back every time I try to look away. This is what we mean when we say that a writer writes because we must, that we need words like we need to breathe, that our stories are our souls. If I don’t write I become consumed by it, embers burning from the inside until I burst into flame. I can’t put my feel back on solid ground until my story finds the sanctuary of the page. I do not write because I merely like it, because it is a hobby I find pleasing. I write because I would suffocate if I didn’t. I would go insane and finally start talking loudly to those pesky characters that live in my brain. As writers, we walk a fine line between passion and insanity; ignoring the words will only send us over the edge faster.
So please, if you see a wandering, dreamy look in my eyes while you’re speaking, or you wave and I don’t seem to notice- please be kind to me, I sincerely apologize. It’s just that some days I cannot escape the myriad of worlds I carry in my head. Perhaps in a few weeks you will ask how the story is going. I will invariably turn bright red and stumble over my words as I try to instantaneously craft my response (which will probably contain a lot of meaningless hand gestures and a few disjointed sentences). But inside I will breathe a sigh of relief because you understand this one thing about me. I dive into my passion because I have no choice. I have lived my stories a thousand times before their words have ever met the page. Perhaps I am a bit crazy as I stare glassy-eyed at my screen mouthing dialog by nonexistent people, complete with facial expressions I don’t notice I’m doing until someone else mentions it. Perhaps my preoccupation with imaginary worlds means I am a tad unhinged. But then again, if you take a peek at literature through the ages, the best of their creators always were- so at least I will keep good company.
2 thoughts on “A Writer: Socially Acceptable Version of Insanity”
Ha! I’ve given a FAR less eloquent plea to my poor wife when she recognizes that far-away stare. Glad I’m not the only one.
I have been writing up a storm this month…as you know I’ve made February my ‘write month’ since November doesn’t work for me. For the first time in over a year, my book is finally coming along…to the point that I go to bed dreaming about my main character and wonder where her life is heading, and I wake up the same way. It’s become personal now, and the plot is finally beginning to come together!!! So I also have that dreamy look as I think about my characters and their lives. I’ve had family visiting this past week so I’m a few thousand words behind, but I plan on a few marathon sessions this coming week. 🙂