Wednesday, December 5, 2012

IWSG December 2012 Edition

Boy, the fact that this blog fest by Alex rolls around so often makes me realize just how fast I'm aging. Before I know it, I'll be receiving the AARP magazine in the mail.

One of the weird insecurities that I experience when writing or getting involved in creative projects is that I kind of lose myself within them and become (for a short time) unhealthily obsessed. I don't know why this happens. And I think it's a state of mind that I enjoy while I'm in it, but when I look up from the computer or from whatever project I'm working on and realize, hey it's dark outside, that maybe this is not a good thing.

So I guess I'm insecure about losing myself or losing touch with the real world as I immerse myself in these fantasies that I create. The psychology of why I do this is probably even more disturbing, and I really don't want to be psychoanalyzed (yeah I'm gonna hide from the truth). But I'll at least have the guts to admit that maybe I am a little mentally ill. If I am, then maybe there are a lot of authors out there who are also mentally ill, and I'm in good company. If you're one of those writers...have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought: am I insane?

Just to be clear. I don't want to be mentally ill. But it's a distinct possibility that I am. I think that some of the activities in which I engage are not what normal people do. But my life has never been normal. So I guess with all things being equal, I'll plug away at what I'm doing because (at least) I'm pretty decent at it.

And just maybe (and this is where I branch off into my own theories) this is why validation from other people is so important to writers. It's because we all think (deep inside) that we may be insane. And by having someone validate us, those fears are then put to rest. We become authors.

We're not crazy, we're just working.

That makes sense, right?

Have a great Wednesday.

49 comments:

  1. I have looked in the mirror many times and asked myself if I'm insane. You're not alone in that. Maybe insanity is a prerequisite for being a writer.

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  2. Well, you know, creative types have always been "different." It's demonstrably true and there is ongoing research into why that is, but, right now, no one really knows. One day, though, they'll sell it in a bottle.
    At any rate, I think the best thing to do is just embrace it. "I'm not 'normal,' and that's okay with me. Better than not okay, actually, I like it." Who wants to be "normal" anyway?

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  3. I'm always looking up from the computer with a vague look on my face if I'm disturbed by someone asking an important question like what's for dinner? Who cares? Let me get back to my writing! I'm sure we're all a little obsessed. We have to be or we'd never finish anything. :D

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  4. What is normal, anyway? Normal people don't spend hours losing themselves in guitar practice either.
    Fiction writing requires some immersion. We just have to remember to come back.

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  5. Very true, you are definitely not alone. I also find myself loosing many hours of daylight or coming up for air and it is almost morning.

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  6. Very true, you are definitely not alone. I also find myself loosing many hours of daylight or coming up for air and it is almost morning.

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  7. Hey Michael,

    I know you'll "get" this, but others may not, but what the heck...

    Because we spat every now and again... Yes, I think you're mentally ill, but mainly only around Election time :)

    Love me my Freedom of Speech thingy :)

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  8. For most folks, talking to imaginary people (or creatures) could win you a trip to a clinic. And some major drugs.

    In our business, they give it a different name: talent.

    LOL.

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  9. I think many writers suffer this condition. I'm the obsessive type. I eat, sleep, and dream my stories while writing and editing. It might just be me, but I totally get this. You are not alone, my friend.

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  10. It probably makes your stories more lively. I love that you lose yourself into the worlds of fantasy.

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  11. I look around and I don't think I want to be normal. I have never been normal, why should I start now! Embrace your insanity, its probably what makes great writers because they are able to see things differently.

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  12. "We're not crazy, we're just working." Love it!

    I absolutely know what you mean. It's good to funnel the tendency toward obsession into something creative. On days when I don't write, I tend to get sucked into other black holes (things that don't really matter like cleaning cabinets) until one of my kids snaps me out of it.

    I sort of think this is a good quality in writers - I wonder if normal people can sit still long enough to create worlds. Probably not.

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  13. Normal is relative and is different to different people.
    Getting physically old is a part of life. Looking old or young depends on how well we take care of ourselves. Even then elements of nature and certain illnesses can make us look older than we are.

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  14. This was a great post. I have done exactly as you, looked up after 12 hours in the writing chair and wondered what day it was. Yes, insanity runs rampant in writers, I think, and this is why we're all on the blogs now, making sure we're not alone in our madness.

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  15. Now, see, those days when I look up from the writing and an hour or two has gone by and I didn't even notice, those are the best. If that's mental illness, bring it on. :)

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  16. I once went down a research hole so deep, I was afraid I wouldn't fine the way out. I thought I was losing my soul. I wasn't blogging then, so I crawled back on my own. Also, both my parents at different times suffered from mental illness. Trust me, you are not mentally ill. Creative? Different? Yup! Glad you are.

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  17. Sometimes I wonder about my friends. I'm totally okay myself, of course.

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  18. Creativity requires a peculiar brain pattern, I think. We are...different (crazy) but never boring. :)

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  19. Pshaa. Normality is overrated. I'm with what Alex said.
    Also, you = awesome. That is all

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  20. I don't think sane people become artists or writers. It takes a bit of insanity to create something intensely personal from nothing and to then share it with the critical eye of the public. Our society is not set up to reward creative thinking.

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  21. Pursuing writing seriously takes a certain amount of unhealthy fixation, Michael. The average person isn't willing to commit so much time and energy to examining and articulating thoughts, I don't think.

    Doesn't make you crazy, just 'special'. Which is basically my way of saying we're all on the same short bus. :-D

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  22. To be honest, I've totally had that "mirror moment." I think ALL the time about other people and how they function and how they can just be content in their lives---and I think the thought about why we need validation is SO interesting... I think you're totally on to something here, Michael...

    But yes, you're right, we're in good company! Glad you can be my insane friend. ;-)

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  23. Wow. That's a great point. Creative obsession can be cool, to a point. Suddenly looking up and realizing you lost a day ... can be bad.

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  24. I think I'm crazy all the time. Whether it's because I can talk about my characters to others as real people or because I lose myself in a world, I don't know. Creatively it's wonderful, but in reality, I wonder if people do think I'm odd. I can't be any other way, though.

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  25. I kind of have the opposite problem I think. It's very hard for me to slip into a story and have time pass without my noticing. It's the same way when I'm reading, especially lately. My mind has not been wanting to process things unless I read it out loud to myself. :/

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  26. If you are questioning your sanity, then you are sane. Only those who are crazy don't realize they are. :)

    I know what you mean, though. I sometimes wonder if in some parallel universe if our stories are real and somehow we writers are susceptible to hearing these other people and their stories as opposed to just making all this stuff up. Heh. I don't say that theory much because it makes me sound weird.

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  27. Ugh, thanks to technology, my life seems to be going at light speed. I can't imagine writers 100 years ago felt so much pressure. But, who knows, maybe they did.

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  28. There is some truth to the whole crazy writer stereotype. We all feel a little (or a lot) crazy from time to time.

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  29. I don't think I'm insane. I know I am...

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  30. I often wonder if I'm insane for doing what I do. I spend my days lost in stories of one kind or another. There's the story I work on during the day, the next two perculating in my head, and there's the one I compose during down time and before falling asleep. Sometimes I get so lost in my thoughts while driving I forget where I'm going... My obsession may take a different form than yours, but it's there.

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  31. Hey! I do get AARP in the mail! JK, my mother in law likes to drop hers in the mail to me. It has great articles. :)

    Writers, crazy? Nah, we're just creative.

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  32. I think you have to be a little crazy to do this kind of work.

    And thanks for your help with my blurb. It's exactly what I needed. Geez, it's almost as if you already read my book.

    I really appreciate your advice.

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  33. I tend to question why I squeeze in writing in my spare moments because it does seem crazy. Sure, I like to write, but the purpose beyond that is foggy these days.

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  34. It makes perfect sense to me, and I work for a mental health facility. So, if you ever need a psychoanalyst ...

    That's certainly a part of it - validation. I had a bit of struggle with that for the last couple of months, namely, sitting on a pile of MSs that aren't going anywhere, and what's the point if I can't get them out there to share with others. Even if someone doesn't like what they read, they read it. That's validation enough for me. Then I asked a good friend of mine, "is it wrong to want validation?" His answer? If it's external, yes. He always knows the right thing to say to spin my mind. So, in short (too late) I had to learn to validate myself. Things are running smoother now because of that.

    Appreciated your comment today, and all the comments you make, imo. It may not have shown, but it helped. :)

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  35. Writing and craziness often go hand in hand, and a lot of the most famous writers were supposed to have been at least very neurotic, if not bat-shit crazy. Me, I like to think of myself as being "special" or merely "different," when yeah, I'm in reality just nuts.

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  36. What Cherie Reich said.

    "Normal" hasn't been something people wanted to be until relatively recently. It wasn't until the advent of those who study us (I mean the human race) that a desire to be "normal" appeared.

    I'd rather be weird anyway.

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  37. I've looked at myself and wondered if I'm completely sane. The boundary between "sane" and "insane" isn't exactly concrete.

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  38. Funny, I look in the mirror and wonder if I'll ever be sane. ;-) And yeah, I've been getting those AARP membership offer mailings for a while now. I flip 'em the bird and flick 'em in the trash. Denial is power.

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  39. They say that if you can wonder if you're crazy it means you're not. And I think being a little obsessed is a sign of successful individuals, and it'll make your writing better. :-)

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  40. Yes, I think we writers are all a little loony: we talk to our characters as if they were real people, we spend way too much time in our heads, or in dark rooms in front of flickering laptops, we work too many hours hunched over, we drink too much coffee and rot our guts out, we live in the fantasy settings we spend months, heck, years building. Isn't it grand, and wonderful and exhilarating?!

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  41. Perhaps one could argue that creative writing is a form of mentall illness in itself - after all, we spend a lot of time listening to the voices in our head. As you know, I have previously suffered from a panic disorder, and that form of mental illness is NOT conducive to creativity. It's not conducive to much, really! I'm so very thankful that I'm no longer in its shadow! :-)

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  42. I don't think you'll ever lose touch with the real world because you love us too much. (; And so what if you lose part of your day to writing, can you really call it lost if you've been productive? And I agree with Lexa, a little bit of obsessiveness is not a bad thing and may be in fact necessary.

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  43. Have you heard the quote about how nobody would choose to be a writer? I can't remember it off the top of my head but it was something like "If I could put down my pen, walk away, and never write another word in my life, I would do it." Paraphrased, obviously.

    I've called writing a "compulsion" and to a large extent I really think it is. I think a lot of people are driven to do it. Yes, we get enjoyment out of it. But we also have the always-lurking demons.

    I think probably a lot of writers (if not "most") are kind of insane.

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  44. People that follow their passions tend to have an addiction to them, the creative obsession. That's how the best art is created. That's what we do. And you are quite the artist, whether it is words or pictures!

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  45. Michael...

    We are ALL INSANE! No SANE person would spend YEARS on a ms and still have hopes and dreams for publication.

    CREATIVE minds are special, beautiful, and above and BEYOND Normal. IT takes imagination. Not everyone has it but WE do. It's in our hearts and soul. We are ruled by PASSION.

    How sad an existence without it...

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  46. I don't beleive all that qualifies as insanity. I think that writers, and artists in general, go to a place in our minds that most other people don't ever go to and not that such a place doesn't exist in their minds ;)

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  47. Yes, all writers are mentally ill to some degree. Actually, if you think it, you're probably not. It's a hard life. You are an excellent writer--remember that.

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