Crazy can mean many things, depending if we invoke the formal definition, or use informal slang. It is a word I use all the time in self-reference, because looking at myself askance, at my life, and at the thoughts my brain stirs up inside or spews out for others to hear or see, it just is de rigueur behaviour for me. What I feel intuitively, but not what I cannot know as fact, is we have to be a little…crazy to write.
Who else but us writing crazies would sit here typing away for hour after hour, backtracking, backspacing, cutting, pasting, adding, deleting, editing, changing, and evolving our words and our stories into something just right and presentable? Who else but those of us a little off our plumb bubble would see worlds non-existent, characters in full contentious dialogue, yet they’ve never moved a mouth or wagged a tongue in real life? Who else but we would learn to be master craftspersons of written word, so honed by our efforts we view every writing, even those not our own, through the filter of edit?
‘I like the way the author phrased this’, or ‘the author was sloppy with the close proximity of repeated words’, are usual thoughts in my head when I read any book now. And crazy of all crazies, we actually go around calling ourselves – gasp – writers. Writers! I’m not a Bronte sister, although I feel as old right about now, what with my back all taut up in a kink. I’m not Nora Roberts, Rita Mae Brown, Sue Monk Kidd, Jodi Picoult, or even Kris Radish. I don’t know if any of them are crazy, but I’m declaring they are right here, and why? Because they write.
Passion to create with word burns in them, probably burns in them more than it burns in me, because they are ahead of me, they tasted this process and found addiction long before my fingers could press the right key.
In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Richard Dreyfuss throws a ton of trash and mud into his living room, in an attempt to create before him the image or place in his mind. He worked for the power company? I don’t believe it, nosiree – he had to be a writer.
Octavia Butler (may she rest in peace) was crazy. Carol Cassela, Anita Shreve, and Kate Mosse…all crazy. A friend and writing buddy, yet to know I’m declaring her crazy but soon will, told me yesterday she sprung from bed in the midst of the night to record a note for her story, an important character tangent she did not wish to forget, in the process leaving her hubby intrigued and bemused. Say it with me, ‘You’ve got it bad!’ Crazy.
And what is really crazy is all of us writers do this. Admit it, you know you do, and if you don’t, rethink your claim on writing passion. We may not go about it in quite the same way… maybe we carve a few letters on the discarded banana peel our partner left beside the bed next to their underwear from three days ago. Or we scratch our idea on the headboard, ready to blame it on the cat if noticed. Maybe, in a more mundane moment, you scribble on a semi-dirty napkin in a restaurant and slip it in your purse. Being practical crazy, it could be you get up as my friend did, and take time to record a proper message to yourself. Worst of all are the ones among us who get back in our writer’s cockpit (remind me to look up the root of the word ‘cockpit’, it just does not sound quite right, though I suppose vagipit is no better sounding in reality, just better suited to those of us who are known as women. It does seem a bit more apt than cockpit, but I’ve digressed) and start hands running over the computer keyboard as if we play piano in Carnegie Hall, disgorging our inspiration into the vision still fresh in our writing deluded mind.
Embrace your craziness, writers; do not run from what you cannot escape. Warm to it, cuddle with it, and recognise eccentricity is a great excuse for anything out of the ordinary you may one day do. You had one too many drinks on Saturday night, and regret naked dancing on the barroom table. You are writer; you are crazy. People will nod their understanding and go about their business.
I’m whacked, cracked, and batty, loonier than a cartoon festival held under a world renown trademark which by legal necessity must go unmentioned here. If I slipped, it would be okay, really. I’m a writer.