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Are All Writers Crazy?
So, you're wondering, aren't you? You, who clicked on this article. I caught you. Yeah, it's all fine and good when I pick on the uber-smart in Are All Geniuses Crazy, because those smarty-pants technogeeks need to be explained away so we regular people can feel okay with our not so spectacular selves. But now, some joker is holding up a mirror and you don't like it, do you?
You do realize that historically, writers don't have the best track record. Ernest Hemingway: fabulous writer. Drank excessively and ultimately shot himself after failed electroshock therapy. Franz Kafka: described as having schizoid personality disorder (that's what you get for writing about waking up as a bug!) J.D. Salinger: recluse. Mark Twain: get a comb! Edgar Allan Poe: following a career writing of the macabre and studying cryptology, he died at the age of 40 wandering the streets of Baltimore in a daze. J.K. Rowling: Got her idea of the soul-sucking Dementors from her own battles with clinical depression.
Silly question, really. Of course we are. We're flippen whacked. That's what makes writers interesting, that little off-kilter, left of center, WTF's-happening-next quality that makes us want to tune in. Perfection is only interesting when its mocked, like in The Stepford Wives!
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me." ~ Hunter S. Thompson
Crazy is as crazy does
Of course, in many aspects crazy is rather definitional. Here's a simple analogy: In the 3rd century BC (pre-Copernicus and Galileo), the common understanding of the universe was that it was geocentric (earth-centered), which basically means the Earth is at the center of the universe, and everything rotates around it. So in a completely egocentric model, whatever isn't self (the center of the universe) is, by definition, crazy. Naturally, that means the further from the center, the crazier, right?
And if we all commit to a dull hum of similarity, we validate how alike (i.e. non-crazy) those closest to us are, and how whacked those on the outer edges appear to be. Which is all fine and good ... until we write. Suddenly, our unfiltered expansive brilliant mind allows in whatever universal seedling plants itself into our psyche, and spills out through our fingers into magnificently insane prose.
And crazy genius is thus borne.
"My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you're ugly too." ~ Rodney Dangerfield
Top ten reasons you might be nuts
Supposing that readers are writers and writers are readers, if you're reading this here on hubpages, you're probably a writer. That said, here are some reasons you might be a few french fries short of a Happy Meal...
- You feel compelled to write personal notes to an invisible audience of strangers you'll likely never meet, but you continue communicating with them, despite knowing you're really just typing words for no truly apparent reason.
- In your spare time, when you could be meeting with friends, hiking the nearest mountain, or spending quality time with your kids or partner, you instead compel yourself to sit down and journal your thoughts.
- You wake up in the middle of the night thinking about Voldemort.
- You can write an 80,000 word novel that takes thousands of hours, but when someone asks you what your book is about, you stammer, struggle for words, and then spill out some incomprehensible garble that makes the other person raise their eyebrows, back away and then suddenly remember they have a pot roast in the oven.
- You get into heated arguments over books vs. the Kindle.
- You get a fervish delight from penning out stories of the macabre, zombies, possessed cars, whacked out fans, post-apocalyptic wastelands and rejected teens who kill their classmates, and get a peevish smile from others when you delve into gruesome detail at holiday events and class reunions.
- You consistently stop active conversations with people in front of you with, "Hold on, I have to write something down," as you pull out your portable pocket journal.
- You are intimate with hundreds of alcoholic concoctions, and you're not a bartender.
- You remember what a typewriter is, and still have an IBM Selectric tucked in your attic rafters.
- You're really wanting to sign up for Hubpages, right now, and convey to the world what brilliantly prolific contrivances you can conjure for the indulgence of a you-thirsty world...
“I would imagine that if you could understand Morse code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy.” ~ Mitch Hedberg
Seriously, we're a world with a bit of an addiction to cries of crazy. What's one of the most common one-liners a person says about an ex?: "She was crazy!" And the other person nods, as if we all understand this verbal shorthand.
The 2012 edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 5, assembled by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) will list approximately 400 new ways of being crazy (up from about 60 in the 1950s). Logically, we can't be 667% crazier than we were sixty years ago. The APA has just added distinctions based on new social constructs. And those are constructed just to provide guidance to psychiatrists on what to do with the varied patients they encounter.
The truth is, most of us are a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, so it's silly to spend time on the yes or no question, and instead focus on an understanding and acceptance of the truth, which requires some ego-surrender and vulnerability. And if for no other reason than the fact that a writer is more frequently having to access and translate the intrinsically brilliant threads of inspiration and knowledge from God and the universe, its more likely the writer who is the most sane, and the rest of the world that is truly crazy.
"A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?" ~ Albert Einstein